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Solidarity for Sale: Corruption in Labor Unions

The 1954 film On the Waterfront tells a sordid tale of corruption and crime in a New York longshoreman’s union. According to Robert Fitch, author of “Solidarity for Sale,” not much has changed in the American labor movement. Fitch tells Steve Inskeep that today's unions ranging from the garment industry to construction to the longshoremen are "classically corrupt."

Though Fitch says most lower-level union staff have their members’ best interests at heart, he alleges that top leaders often sell workers short, negotiating personal profits from companies in exchange for not organizing its workplaces.

Though Fitch's investigations seem to back the conservative critique that unions are inherently corrupt and inefficient, he argues that, with stagnant wages and rising worker safety issues, the principles of labor organization should be strengthened.

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Steve Inskeep
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.