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Corporate leaders were not only upset by a highly unusual board action that put the right to manage at stake. They also worried that the decision would "hamper economic expansion by prohibiting the movement of capital to lower wage areas; prohibiting employers from obtaining the lowest cost of production; preventing the discontinuance of unprofitable lines or products; inhibiting automation, mergers, and consolidations..." (Gross 1995, p. 173). In addition, they thought it would hinder them in meeting the foreign economic competition they had encouraged through their advocacy of lower tariffs in order to create an international economic system that would allow for greater profits and at the same time defend again the expansion of Soviet and Chinese communism: "Employers were particularly interested in becoming more efficient through technological change, ending inflationary contract settlements with unions, and in other ways seeking to overcome the labor cost advantage enjoyed by foreign competitors" (Gross 1995, p. 190). Fibreboard, with the encouragement of the corporate community in general, made an immediate appeal to the courts.

the free world will be organized to prevent a future war

After 1985, union density in the public sector stayed roughly even, standing at 35.9% in 2012. In the private sector, however, the figure was down to 6.6%, less than a fifth of what it had been in 1945 and only half of what it was as recently as 1985. Overall, the percentage of wage and salary workers in unions declined to 11.3% (BLS 2013). There was very little left of the industrial unions that had provided campaign donations, campaign workers, and votes to pro-labor political candidates for most of the post-World War II era. The fate of unionism was now in the hands of public-employee unions, service unions, communications-sector unions, and the craft unions in the construction industry.


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With the help of several Supreme Court decisions, many of the statutory guarantees of protection against employers that had been granted to workers by the National Labor Relations Act in exchange for labor peace were taken away. Decisions made by the board during the first Reagan Administration and the two previous post-war Republican administrations also created a long list of prohibitions on actions by unions and their organizers. By 1985 a law that was originally meant to facilitate unionization and collective bargaining as a moderate way to handle class conflict had been turned into an anti-union employer protection law (McCammon 1990; McCammon 1994; McCammon and Kane 1997). The only solace for organized labor was that it fended off repeated efforts by the conservative coalition to eliminate the Davis-Bacon Act and restrict union involvement in politics (Roof 2011, pp. 190-191).


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In terms of impact, the hearings were completely obscured by anti-war demonstrations, the scramble for the Democratic presidential nomination after Johnson announced he would not run again, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy. Although the Republicans gained five seats in the Senate in 1968, including the one held by Morse in Oregon, and five in the House as well, the labor committees in both houses still had too many non-Southern Democrats to make significant changes in labor laws possible. The overall campaign therefore ended in failure, but it once again revealed just how coordinated 100 or more corporations were for lobbying Congress and connecting with opinion-shaping organizations. It also showed their determination to prevail one way or another on this issue, and prepared them to work closely with future presidents on labor issues. They were to get their chance very soon due to divisions in the liberal-labor alliance and the election of Republican Richard M. Nixon to the presidency in 1968. Historical institutionalists and other contemporary scholars sometimes write with near-nostalgia about how liberal Nixon really was, but they don't take labor issues into consideration in making that claim. They are also wrong to take the growth in spending on welfare and Social Security as evidence of Nixon's liberalism, since the moderates in the corporate community were all for it, but that mistake is a separate story from the one being told here (Domhoff 2013).

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While its problems with the National Labor Relations Board were unfolding, the corporate community was facing another challenge, this one in part of its own making, the possible imposition of wage-price guidelines by the federal government to control inflation. Despite the mention of their possibile usefulness in the CED report on inflation during the Eisenhower years, any wage-price committee or agency was strongly opposed by most corporate moderates as well as all ultraconservatives as an impediment to the proper functioning of the corporate system and a challenge to corporate power to determine prices and wages. Although it turned out that unions had their own reasons for disliking wage-price guidelines, corporate leaders nonetheless feared the possibility of an eventual government-labor alliance on this issue. Fully aware of the possible minefield that lay before it, the Kennedy Administration made plans to introduce voluntary wage-price guidelines into the policy mix soon after it took office. It did so gingerly by first appealing to the need to preserve foreign markets in the face of a potential wage-price spiral that might jeopardize the international competitiveness of American corporations: "We cannot afford unsound wage and price movements which push up costs, weaken our international competitive position, restrict job opportunities, and jeopardize the health of our domestic economy," Kennedy wrote in a special message to Congress two weeks after the inauguration (Barber 1975, p. 141).