Walter Reuther (1907-1970), president of the United Auto Workers, wrote in January 1958 about auto contract talks: “In practice this means that collective bargaining decisions must be based upon economic facts rather than economic power, for only as the power of persuasion replaces the persuasion of power can collective bargaining be made a socially responsible and constructive force.”
Later union presidents have preached the “persuasion of power” (the threat of strikes) if the “power of persuasion” fails—a reverse of Reuther’s phrasW. George Romney, president of American Motors, used the phrase in the early 1960s. UAw president Owen F. Bieber said in 1984: “If the power of persuasion doesn’t work, we will use the persuasion of power if that’s what is necessary.”
In the 2000s, the phrase became associated with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) president Andy Stern. The New York (NY) Times quoted Stern in 2005: “Sometimes this can be done with the power of persuasion. Sometimes it takes the persuasion of power.” The phrase also appears in Andy Stern’s book, A Country That Works: Getting America back on track (2006).
Wikipedia: Walter Reuther
Walter Philip Reuther (September 1, 1907 – May 9, 1970) was an American labor union leader, who made the United Automobile Workers a major force not only in the auto industry but also in the Democratic Party in the mid 20th century. He was a socialist in the early 1930s; he became a leading liberal and supporter of the New Deal coalition.
Wikipedia: Andy Stern
Andrew L. “Andy” Stern (born November 22, 1950), is the president of the 2 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the fastest-growing union in the Americas. SEIU is the second largest union in the United States and Canada after the National Education Association. Elected in 1996 to succeed John Sweeney, Stern is working to revitalize the labor movement by making universal health care a top priority, empowering workers through the Employee Free Choice Act and helping workers and employers recognize the new global economic model American businesses operate under today.
For his talent at recruiting new members, Stern has been described as the “most important labor boss in America”. The share of workers belonging to a union in 2008 showed the largest annual growth rate since the first report in 1983. Growth in SEIU in 2008—88,926 members—accounted for nearly 21 percent of the national union membership growth.
Proceedings and Executive Council reports of the AFL-CIO
Only as the power of persuasion replaces the persuasion of power can collective bargaining mature in a free society.
14 January 1958, New York (NY) Times, “Text of Reuther Proposals on Auto Contracts and Companies’ Replies,” pg. 38:
DETROIT, Jan. 13 --
We recognize that in a free society there inevtiably will be differences of opinion between free labor and free management. In a Communist or totalitarian state, unity is achieved by absolute conformity. In a free society we must achieve unity in diversity.
While having differences, we must seek a way to resolve these differences that will reflect an understanding that the good of the whole transcends the special interest of any one group. In practice this means that collective bargaining decisions must be based upon economic facts rather than economic power, for only as the power of persuasion replaces the persuasion of power can collective bargaining be made a socially responsible and constructive force.
28 February 1960, New York (NY) Times, “A Maverick Starts a New ‘Crusade’” by A. H. Raskin, pg. SM44:
He (George Romney, head of the American Motors Corporation—ed.) regards the recent steel strikes as a tragic illustration of the extent to which monolithic groups on both sides of the bargaining table have substituted the persuasion of power for the power of persuasion, with disastrous results to the economy.
Labor Law Journal
By Commerce Clearing House
In those situations, the persuasion of power seems more important than the power of persuasion, if I may use a Reutherism.
10 September 1961, New York (NY) Times, “Toward Auto Contract” by Damon Stetson, pg. E8:
“We have consistently deplored applications of Big Three Patterns or mores to us in the past,” he (George Romney, president of American Motors—ed.) says. “We continue to oppose pattern settlements, whipsawing tactics and the persuasion of power instead of the power of persuasion.”
7 January 1966, Amarillo (TX) Globe-Times, pg. 4, col. 2:
A year ago, some of labor’s oldest friends warned it that it had abandoned the power of persuasion for the persuasion of power. If previous history is any index, the handwriting is on the wall and will soon be on the statute books. More particularly, if the right to strike is expanded to the power to paralyze, the law will step in to protect the public with compulsory arbitration.
15 May 1969, Oakland (CA) Tribune, ‘Revolutions Devour Their Young” by Ernest Cuneo, pg. 16, col. 3:
If history is applicable, the liberal arts revolutions lost their case when they abandoned the power of persuasion for the persuasion of power.
7 March 1984, New York (NY) Times, “Auto Union Seeks Big Economic Gain” by John Holusha, pg. A14:
Mr. Bieber (Owen F. Bieber, president of the United Automobile Workers—ed.) also said the union was not spoiling for a strike but added, “If the power of persuasion doesn’t work, we will use the persuasion of power if that’s what is necessary.”
11 March 1984, New York (NY) Times, “Auto Industry Profits Could Make Contract Talks Costly” by John Holusha, pg. E3:
Owen F. Bieber, the U.A.W. president, rattled the strike sword, declaring “if the power of persuasion doesn’t work, we will use the persuasion of power if that is what is necessary.”
19 January 2003, New York (NY) Times, “Stirring Words, Realist Tactics” by Steven Greenhouse, pg. BU2:
But Mr. Fire (Ed Fire, president of the International Union of Electronic Workers-Communications Workers of America—ed.), who is threatening a strike in June, isn’t buying that argument. “You’re not going to convince G.E. to do anything on the basis of what’s fair, what’s simple justice,” he said. “What influences this company is the persuasion of power, not the power of persuasion.”
30 July 2005, New York (NY) Times, “Support Labor Law Reform” by Steven Greenhouse, pg. C13:
“Sometimes this can be done with the power of persuasion,” Mr. Stern said. (Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union—ed.) “Sometimes it takes the persuasion of power.”
A Country That Works:
Getting America back on track
By Andy Stern
New York, NY: Free Press
The former required the power of persuasion, and the latter the persuasion of power.
Although we preferred to lead with the power of persuasion, with many resistant employers we were often left no choice but to use the persuasion of power.
SEIU and the “persuasion of power”
By Michelle Malkin • August 6, 2009 11:44 PM
EXCERPTED FROM Chapter 7, “SEIU: Look for the union label,” Culture of Corruption
“The persuasion of power”
Asked about his organizing philosophy, Andy Stern summed it up this way: “[W]e prefer to use the power of persuasion, but if that doesn’t work we use the persuasion of power.”
New York City • Government/Law/Politics • (0) Comments • Monday, September 14, 2009 • Permalink