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social sciences


The "Third Period" trade union activities of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), especially the creation of independent "red" industrial unions as opposed to continuing to work within the craft-oriented American Federation of Labor (AFL) unions, has been widely criticized in the literature. The recent opening of the CPUSA archives has made it possible to reevaluate the Party's activities during this era. While the TUUL unions suffered major defeats and had difficulties in organizing in the heavy and mass production industries such as mining, textile, maritime and steel, these unions experienced considerable organizing success in light industries in New York City, particularly after the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act in June 1933. Besides promoting industrial organization, the TUUL's vision of union organization was structurally different from that of the AFL. Specifically, the red industrial unions, unlike the AFL unions, attempted to promote democratic, rank-and-file participation in union affairs as opposed to leaving such activities solely in the hands of the union officialdom.


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