Book Review: The Once and Future Union

The Once and Future Union: The Rise and Fall of the United Rubber Workers, 1935-1995. By Bruce M. Meyer. (Akron: University of Akron Press, 2002. xviii, 457 pp., photographs, index. Paper $27.95, ISBN 1-88483-685-2.)

Bruce M. Meyer’s account of the “rise and fall” of the United Rubber Workers is a welcome addition to the region’s historical literature. It provides a useful overview of an institution that was once thought to play a critical role in the region’s economy and unquestionably did play a central role in the lives of many individuals. It rises above that level in portraying the last third of the union’s history, the years from the mid-1970s to 1995, when the URW became a symbol of industrial decline in Ohio and the Midwest. Yet because Meyer devotes approximately two thirds of the book to those years, he inadvertently creates the impression that the URW’s “fall” was more important than either its “rise,” in the 1930s, or the long period, ranging from l940 to the 1970s, when it represented virtually all U.S. and Canadian tire workers and bargained aggressively to improve their wages and working conditions. Continue reading Book Review: The Once and Future Union