Chapter

Worker-Citizens at the Community Bargaining Table: The St. Louis Teamsters' Community Stewards Program in the 1950s

Robert Bussel

in Life and Labor in the New New South

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780813037950
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813043111 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813037950.003.0005
Worker-Citizens at the Community Bargaining Table: The St. Louis Teamsters' Community Stewards Program in the 1950s

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During the 1950s in St. Louis, Missouri, Teamsters Local 688 developed an unusual program that sought to enhance the quality of life for union members in their neighborhoods and influence the direction of urban social policy. Applying their shop floor expertise as workers' representatives to the arena of civic affairs, Local 688's “community stewards” launched ambitious efforts to improve public transit, expand recreational opportunities for youth, increase access to higher education, and upgrade the quality of housing. By focusing their efforts on what they called “the other sixteen hours” that workers spent away from the shop floor, Local 688's community stewards attempted to show that the historic divide in working-class consciousness between the “politics of work” and the “politics of community” was neither inevitable nor intractable. The community stewards also revived notions of working-class citizenship that in earlier periods had fueled labor's ambitions to function as a transformational social force.

Keywords: community stewards; citizenship; Teamsters; community bargaining table; Harold Gibbons; Ernest Calloway

Chapter.  14779 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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