Culture of Misfortune
An Interpretive History of Textile Unionism in the United States
The failure of the Textile Workers Union of America to organize its jurisdiction has often been considered the CIO's most critical setback in establishing industrial unionism in the United States. The textile industry had more than 1,250,000 workers, and the massive organizing campaign the CIO launched in 1937 resulted in perhaps the longest, most bitter, and most significant labor-capital clash of the century.
In Culture of Misfortune, Clete Daniel integrates many primary sources, including extensive archival records and numerous oral interviews, into his examination of this conflict. He pays close attention to the internal political culture of the TWUA and how it was affected by the dislocation and transformation of the textile industry, the postwar assault on workers' rights, and the risks of activism in the face of the rampant anti-unionism of the South.
Daniel explains the inability of the TWUA to match the achievements of CIO unions in other mass-production industries through an analysis both of the internal dynamics of the organization and of the external political, social, and cultural impediments it confronted. He suggests that the multiplying difficulties that beset the TWUA predicted the challenges faced by all industrial unions in the last decades of the twentieth century.