Union Raider | Letters | Chicago Reader

Union Raider 

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To the editors:

I am less perplexed by the apparent contradictions in the union buster Jack Sheridan than David Moberg apparently is [July 24]. Sheridan may in fact be the best of the breed, but I'm not impressed with his "switching of sides" in the 50s. When, in his short career as a union organizer did Sheridan ever go up against goon squads, strikebreakers, or even "plain old determined management resistance" such as that which he now provides? From the article, I can't see one instance when he ever had anything to do with organizing a new union. His thing, and that of IBEW Local 1031, was "raiding," that is taking already organized shops away primarily from the United Electrical Workers (UE).

This sort of campaign has much similarity with union busting because the "raiders" frequently heap much of what today would be called "negative campaigning" on the current union in an effort to get the members to switch sides. Further, since the targets of these raids were for the most part militant left-wing unions like the UE, it is safe to assume that in most cases the efforts of Sheridan and his cohorts would have been met at worst by the benevolent neutrality, if not the covert and possibly even outright support of management. Sheridan may say he admires the militants now, and he may even be sincere, but he was never one himself.

Steven M. Cohen

N. Sacramento

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