Published online by Cambridge University Press: 19 May 2022
A fundamental challenge for the labor movement is the necessity to provide a message that resonates. This is a matter confused and hobbled by the fact that the problems posed for unions in employment relationships have their roots in history. The state plays a less ambitious role in the United States compared to Europe and Japan. The unions have stepped into a vacuum, occupied through the exercise of collective bargaining, and simultaneously attempted to promote state expansion so as to augment the bargaining process.
In the early part of the previous century, the American Federation of Labor provided funds for unemployment or distress suffered by their own members.1 This may help explain the fact that, at that time and for a while thereafter, the federation had little or no enthusiasm for unemployment compensation statutes mandated by the state. This tradition is reflected in the restricted scope and content of unemployment compensation law, a product of the Southern Democratic part of the New Deal coalition.