AskProfWolff: Labor Unions, Socialism & Communism

A patron of Economic Update asks: "I have a relative that that teaches labor studies at a local college, and he and I have gotten into debates about the role of communists and socialists within the labor movement in the US. He claims that those two groups merely "co-opted" the labor movement and failed and that neither of those two groups had any affect on the New Deal programs enacted by FDR. I for the life of me cannot convince him otherwise. But, unfortunately I am a young undergraduate student, so my understanding and in-depth knowledge of these groups and their contributions to the labor movement I don't fully know about. So I was hoping you could point me in the right direction. Second, this same relative proclaims that in all socialist countries there is no union representation of the workers, or that the unions that do exist are state owned and not privately owned, which means they don't really represent the workers. So I was curious if you could point to any unions that did represent workers in socialist countries and their successes/failures."

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