Ron Schatz, Wesleyan University | Newberry

Ron Schatz, Wesleyan University

Friday, November 16, 2012

3 pm to 5 pm


Center for American History and Culture Programs
Labor History Seminar

“The National War Labor Board of World War II: A Re-Interpretation”
Ron Schatz, Wesleyan University

The prevailing interpretation of the NWLB and “industrial pluralism” advanced in the 1980s by Lichtenstein, Glaberman, Stone, Lynd, Klare, et al., paints the Board’s history as a series of diktats that manacled unions and the “industrial pluralists” trained by the Board as continuing in that vein after the war ended. This paper argues for a more complex tale of collaborations and compromises, as NWLB staffers worked to contain inflation and satisfy the unions’ and employers’ needs while expediting production of equipment vital to the defeat of the Axis Powers. Nor, on balance, did the Board or the industrial pluralists weaken unions. Rather, through arbitration decisions, wage adjustments for minorities, and support of health insurance and pension plans, they initiated a system that raised workers’ living standards for a generation.

Commentators: Victor Devinatz, Illinois State University and James Wolfinger, DePaul University

Cost and Registration Information 

Scholl Center Seminar papers are pre-circulated electronically.  For a copy of the paper, e-mail the Scholl Center at  Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.