Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

MA in History



First Advisor

Lara Vapnek

Second Advisor

Kristin Szylvian


Postwar America saw one of the greatest economic expansions in American history. The wealth generated was distributed across all aspects of American society, resulting in less wealth inequality than any other time in America. Organized labor was at the pinnacle of its power, offering working class Americans the upward mobility that is promised in the American dream. Since the 1940s, the US has regressed in these areas. Wealth inequality has rapidly increased and organized labor’s power has fallen, contributing to wage stagnation and less upward mobility. There is an abundance of reasons for these changes, and not one instance caused them. For this research, I examine the ways that the postwar political and social right-wing shift contributed to the changes. This includes the emergence of the Second Red Scare and its eventual domination over American life. Understanding how the Red Scare contributed to the decline of New Deal liberalism is emphasized. The Red Scare also put pressure on the CIO to do something about its communists. I look extensively at the CIO’s divisions, why it expelled its communists and other far-left members, and what this did to the labor movement long-term. The methodology used for this paper was to approach the topic from a political and labor perspective. For this subject, the politics of the era influenced the public, forcing labor leaders in the CIO to join the Red Scare or be a victim. Thus, the paper looks heavily at political figures, their actions, and the reactions from CIO leaders on both the Left and mainstream. The most discussed union is the United Electrical, Machine, and Radio workers of America (UE). There are a few reasons for this. One reason concerns the abundance of resources from the UE that are available. The University of Pittsburgh has a large digital archive of UE materials, including copies of its newspaper, UE News. Another reason is the simple fact that the UE was the third largest union in the CIO and the largest union on the CIO’s Left. It had a plethora of influence and is tremendously important to the story.

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