UAW Politics in the Cold War Era

By Martin Halpern

Subjects: American Labor History
Series: SUNY series in American Labor History
Paperback : 9780887066726, 361 pages, October 1988
Hardcover : 9780887066719, 361 pages, October 1988

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Table of contents



1. The Automobile Industry in the Postwar Era

2. The Auto Workers: From the Industry's Beginnings Through World War II

3. The UAW and Reconversion

4. The General Motors Strike: The UAW Jumps the Gun

5. The General Motors Strike: The Long Stoppage is Won

6. The Faction Fight Begins: The 1946 UAW Convention and its Aftermath

7. The Characteristics of the Two UAW Caucuses and Trends

8. The Politics of Auto Union Factionalism: Anti-Communism and the Erosion of the Popular Front on the National Level

9. The Politics of Auto Union Factionalism: The Michigan CIO in the Cold War Era

10. Defeat at Allis-Chalmers

11. Round Two in the Postwar Wage Negotiations

12. Shop Floor Issues and Labor Relations Philosophy

13. Taft-Hartley and the Defeat of the Progressive Alternative in the UAW

14. A Victory for the Left: Coleman Young and the Wayne County CIO Council

15. The Reuther Caucus Wins Control

16. The Consequences of the Reuther Victory

17. The Cold War and the End of the Popular Front






This is the first book-length study of the triumph of the Reuther caucus over the Thomas-Addes-Leonard coalition in the United Auto Workers union. The dramatic defeat of the left-center coalition had far reaching significance. It helped to determine the shape of postwar labor relations, the direction of postwar liberalism, and the fate of the left.

Based on manuscript sources, oral histories, and quantitative analyses of convention roll calls, UAW Politics in the Cold War Era places this union conflict in a national political context of postwar economic conflicts, the cold war, and the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act. Halpern offers a fresh point of view on the character of the two contending coalitions and the reasons for the Reuther triumph. His work is a valuable contribution to the current reassessment of the domestic politics of the early cold war years.

Martin Halpern has published articles in Labor History and The Michigan Historical Review.


"This is an extraordinarily well-researched piece of work that offers its readers a detailed understanding of the most important internal conflict to engulf any trade union in the twentieth century. Halpern has an intimate sense of the politics and motivations — the political ecology, if you will—of that most complicated of trade unions, the UAW. He explains that the victory of the Reuther caucus was based not so much upon a rank and file rejection of the Communist-oriented left, as upon Reuther's ability to convince the UAW's local cadre that only an anti-Communist top leadership could protect their union from the rising tide of right-wing sentiment in the country as a whole. Within labor history, Halpern's work fills a big gap. " — Nelson Lichtenstein, Catholic University of America