Dualism And Overlooked Class Consciousness in American Labor Laws

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Houston Law Review


This article will show that the class-consciousness, so obviously missing when responding to the practices of capital, was ever present when responding to the activities of black workers. From slavery days to the present, white working-class consciousness and ideology have been molded to separate black and white workers, and to accommodate practices designed to subjugate black workers. This article will demonstrate how federal regulations reinforced white working-class consciousness by improving white worker status through unionism and permitting unions to wield their statutory powers as a sword against black workers, thereby perpetuating the racial division of workers. Federal intervention in the field of labor consciously accommodated the racially hostile sentiments white workers harbored. This regulatory toleration of racist attitudes further assisted in anchoring white working-class consciousness and solidarity in policies that were harmful to black workers. This article does not contest the conclusion that, at the labor/capital level, an absence of working-class consciousness seems to be a defining feature. Rather, this article focuses on the false assumption that working-class solidarity generally was absent from the American labor movement. Proceeding from the premise that race and class are intertwined and enduring in American life," this article accounts for white working-class solidarity from slavery times to the present.

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Publication Date

Fall 2000