Organized Labor After the Freeze

October 27, 1971

Report Outline
Labor Discontent and the 1972 Election
Growth of Labor's Political Activity
Changing Nature of Union Membership
Special Focus

Labor Discontent and the 1972 Election

Reactions of Unions to Wage Freeze and Phase II

Organized labor's agreement to cooperate with the Nixon administration's economic control program defused, at least for the time being, a potentially explosive confrontation between the unions and the Republican Party in the 1972 presidential election. Most labor leaders were quick to denounce the 90-day wage freeze announced by President Nixon on Aug. 15, and their initial reaction to Phase II of the New Economic Policy was equally negative. However, AFL-CIO President George Meany said on Oct. 12 that labor would serve on the tripartite Pay Board that will monitor wage increases during Phase II.

Meany's announcement came after he met with Labor Secretary James D. Hodgson and Director George P. Shultz of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Hodgson and Shultz handed Meany a statement, initialed by Nixon, saying that the administration “will not approve, disapprove or serve as an appeal level for case decisions made by the Pay Board and Price Commission and it will not approve, revise, veto or revoke specific standards or criteria developed by the Pay Board and Price Commission.” That promise of autonomy seemed to remove Meany's previously stated objection that the Pay Board would be subordinate to the Cost of Living Council headed by Treasury Secretary John B. Connally.

Nevertheless, labor support for the President's program was less than wholehearted. The AFL-CIO Executive Council, President Leonard Woodcock of the United Automobile Workers and President Frank E. Fitzsimmons of the Teamsters served notice on Oct. 12 that they would set up units across the country to monitor prices and make sure there are no violations of the administration's price controls. One week earlier, on Oct. 5, United Steelworkers President I. W. Abel delivered a broadside attack on past and present economic policies of the administration. “The worker got it both ways” under the old policy of abjuring controls or even persuasion to hold down wage and price increases, Abel said. “He was hit with both unemployment and inflation, not to mention record interest rates.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Labor Unions
Aug. 07, 2015  Unions at a Crossroads
Sep. 02, 2005  Labor Unions' Future Updated
Jun. 28, 1996  Labor Movement's Future
Jun. 14, 1985  Organized Labor in the 1980s
Nov. 06, 1981  Labor Under Siege
Mar. 24, 1978  Labor's Southern Strategy
Aug. 20, 1976  Labor's Options
Oct. 27, 1971  Organized Labor After the Freeze
Oct. 19, 1966  Labor Strife and the Public Interest
Jan. 30, 1963  Strike Action and the Law
Sep. 20, 1961  Conflicts in Organized Labor
Aug. 04, 1960  Labor, Management, and the National Interest
Dec. 16, 1959  Future of Free Collective Bargaining
Nov. 04, 1959  Featherbedding and Union Work Rules
Feb. 18, 1959  Public Intervention in Labor Disputes
Jul. 09, 1958  Suits Against Labor Unions
Nov. 13, 1957  Right-To-Work Laws
Oct. 31, 1956  Union Organizing
May 01, 1954  State Powers in Labor Relations
Oct. 02, 1953  Toward Labor Unity
Apr. 11, 1953  Industry-Wide Bargaining and Industry-Wide Strikes
Sep. 03, 1952  Labor and Politics
Mar. 25, 1950  Labor Injunctions
Jan. 25, 1950  Trade Unions and Productivity
Sep. 26, 1949  Fact-Finding Boards in Labor Disputes
Mar. 05, 1949  Closed Shop
Dec. 01, 1948  Revision of the Taft-Hartley Act
Jan. 01, 1947  Labor Unions, the Public and the Law
Oct. 09, 1946  Revision of the Wagner Act
Sep. 25, 1946  Labor Productivity
May 29, 1946  Labor Organization in the South
Jan. 30, 1946  Compulsory Settlement of Labor Disputes
May 18, 1945  Labor Policy After the War
Mar. 29, 1945  Union Maintenance
Feb. 02, 1945  Labor Relations in Coal Mining
Oct. 12, 1944  No-Strike Pledge
Sep. 16, 1944  Political Action by Organized Labor
May 30, 1944  Unionization of Foremen
Apr. 01, 1944  Dismissal Pay
Apr. 29, 1943  Labor in Government
Apr. 09, 1943  Public Regulation of Trade Unions
Nov. 19, 1941  Labor Policies of the Roosevelt Administration
Oct. 23, 1941  Closed Shop Issue in Labor Relations
Mar. 29, 1941  Labor as Partner in Production
Feb. 12, 1941  Labor and the Defense Program
Feb. 23, 1940  Labor in Politics
Jan. 17, 1939  Settlement of Disputes Between Labor Unions
Jul. 01, 1938  Three Years of National Labor Relations Act
Nov. 12, 1937  State Regulation of Labor Relations
Jul. 10, 1937  Restrictions on the Right to Strike
Apr. 28, 1937  The Labor Market and the Unemployed
Mar. 26, 1937  Control of the Sit-Down Strike
Mar. 13, 1937  Collective Bargaining in the Soft-Coal Industry
Jan. 22, 1937  Responsibility of Labor Unions
Nov. 11, 1936  Industrial Unionism and the A.F. of L.
Jul. 30, 1936  Federal Intervention in Labor Disputes
Jul. 14, 1936  Labor Relations in the Steel Industry
Apr. 17, 1934  Company Unions and Collective Bargaining
Feb. 07, 1934  Settlement of Labor Disputes
Sep. 12, 1933  Trade Unionism Under the Recovery Program
Feb. 17, 1932  Wage Concessions by Trade Unions
Oct. 01, 1929  Status of the American Labor Movement
Jul. 20, 1929  Trade Unionism in the South
Aug. 31, 1928  Organized Labor in National Politics
Feb. 04, 1928  The Use of Injunctions in Labor Disputes
Sep. 09, 1927  Organized Labor and the Works Council Movement
Oct. 12, 1923  The A.F. of L. and the “New Radicalism”
Unions and Labor-Management Relations