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August 1989, Vol. 112, No. 8
Cyrus S. Ching: pioneer in industrial peacemaking
A. H. Raskin
Through much of America's rise to greatness as an industrial power, mistrust and misunderstanding have been dominant characteristics of relations between employers and organized labor. Most managements viewed attempts by unions to represent their workers as mischievous intrusions, destructive of the interests of company and employee alike. That attitude found expression in tactics so hostile to unionization that many of the country's foremost corporations built up private armies of labor spies and strong-arm men to keep labor at bay.
Unions responded with counterweapons that were violent and often illegal-a response made more virulent by the widespread belief within labor that the agents of law enforcement were vassals of the all-powerful captains of industry. Strikes were long, bitter, and often bloody. The costs were high in lost production, shoddy workmanship, and inefficiency. They frequently were even higher in the damage inflicted on the public by a prolonged cutoff of vital services or by the weakening of companies whose financial health was essential to the jobs of their employees and the well-being of whole communities.
In the 1930's and 1940's, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal opened the way for a union assault on the mass production industries, a tiny group of men of good will became pioneers in the development of techniques to reduce the conflict between management and labor by substituting reasonableness for tests of strength. A position of towering eminence in this select circle was occupied by Cyrus S. Ching, a corporate executive who demonstrated such breadth of vision and freedom from parochial identifications that unionists were almost always at least as enthusiastic as their opposite numbers in management when Ching agreed to help find mutually advantageous solutions to seemingly intractable disputes.
This excerpt is from an article published in the August 1989 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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George W. Taylor: industrial peacemaker.Dec. 1995.
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