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Big business v big labour

Dec 11th 2021

ASKED WHAT labour wanted, Samuel Gompers, founding president of the American Federation of Labour in the late 1800s, is often quoted as responding: “more”. His actual answer was surprisingly lyrical. “More schoolhouses and less jails…more learning and less vice…more leisure and less greed…more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures.” His ability to tie loftiness to pragmatic demands for better wages and working conditions helped make the labour movement a powerful and popular force.

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After years in decline, big labour is regaining both power and popularity. Joe Biden, whose political career began in the union-friendly 1960s, has vowed to be the most pro-union president in history. Feeling newly empowered, workers have staged 241 big strikes this year, 58 of them in November…

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