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From the American Scene: Labor Organizer: New Style

- Abstract

Behind organized labor’s rise to power in the 30′s were vast economic movements and tides, government laws, and mass pressures. But, also, there were the organizers.

The organizers of the 30′s were not, by and large, professionals. When section 7a of the National Industrial Recovery Act suddenly gave unions the signal for large-scale organization, the need overwhelmed their normal staffs. The call went out over the left-wing grapevine and organizers simply appeared. Members of a new kind of preaching fraternity, they were akin to missionaries; dedicants who thought of themselves as sacrificing ease and comfort and the promise of brilliant, worldly careers for their mission. (Some really did, most—quite humanly—liked to think they did.) And among them in significant number were Jews, whether more or less than there “should have been,” I do not know. Jewish organizers as emissaries to non-Jewish workers were a new story and, in some sections of rock-ribbed New England and the reputedly even grimmer Deep South, strange apparitions—or at least so it was feared. As it turned out, they were not, nor were they, for the most part, so considered.

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