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Union Against Unions: The Minneapolis Citizens Alliance and Its Fight Against Organized Labor, 1903–1947

$ 27.95

The first book-length study of the Citizens Alliance, a union of Minneapolis business owners, detailing their use of financial and political power, as well as propaganda and brute force, in their campaign against organized labor.

A groundbreaking labor study, this book offers a detailed portrait of the Citizens Alliance (CA), a union of Minneapolis business owners, which employed any means necessary to squelch the power of organized labor. The association blacklisted union workers, ran a spy network to ferret out union activity, and, when necessary, raised a private army to crush its opposition with brute force. The influence of the CA also reached across the state to battle socialists, labor unions, the Nonpartisan League, and the Industrial Workers of the World. The book examines the philosophies and tactics of the Citizens Alliance from its inception in 1903 to the passage of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, legislation that effectively inhibited the power of unions.

Based on over ten years of meticulous archival research, this book delves into such subjects as the founding of the William Hood Dunwoody Industrial Institute; the 1917 Streetcar Strike and the 1934 Teamsters' Strike; and the CA's collaboration with the Commission of Public Safety, Northwest Bancorporation, the courts, and the military. Both a business history and a labor history, A Union Against Unions offers a comprehensive picture of the CA's campaign against organized labor and a fascinating view of Minnesota history during the first half of the twentieth century. 


  • By: William Millikan; Introduction by Peter Rachleff
  • Format: Paper, 488 pp., 6 x 9 in., 23 b&w photos, notes, appendix, index
  • Publisher: MNHS Press
  • Product ##: 9780873514996


WILLIAM MILLIKAN is an independent scholar and freelance writer. Three of his articles have been published in Minnesota History, each of them earning the Solon J. Buck Award for best article of the year.

PETER RACHLEFF is professor and chair of the history department at Macalester College in St. Paul.



Praise for A Union Against Unions:


"A chilling story of how Minneapolis employers waged an all out war against the working class. . . . An important contribution to the literature on the history of employer associations." -- Journal of American History


"A fine study that explores the philosophy of the Citizens Alliance and its effort to thwart unionization in Minneapolis during the first half of the 20th century. Millikan effectively uses a variety of sources . . . to meticulously detail the complex nature of business-labor relations in Minnesota. . . . This thoughtful study explains the power of the business class and how it sought to manipulate labor." -- Choice


"In this meticulously documented book . . . Millikan has written a wonderful triple history, simultaneously telling the story of business, labor, and Minneapolis' struggles through the first part of the 20th century. . . . Millikan, a historian, independent scholar and award-winning writer, spent close to 10 years researching this volume. His research is impressive." -- St. Paul Pioneer Press


"An important and welcome book for historians interested in the employer side of labor relations. . . . [A] valuable and detailed case study." -- Enterprise and Society, The International Journal of Business of History


"This valuable academic history of Minneapolis' most powerful business organization from 1903 to 1947 details how employers secretly fought labor unions. . . . A welcome addition to labor history . . . [a] well-researched account." -- Minneapolis Star Tribune


"A one-of-a-kind study, providing an insight into the complex nature of labor relations in the United States, a perspective on the power of class and business alliance in American politics, and an exploration into the ways powerful interests have used the state to distort the labor market, the workplace, and the political arena. This book will reshape the way we think and teach about labor and politics in the twentieth-century American city." -- Elizabeth Faue, author of Community of Suffering and Struggle: Women, Men, and the Labor Movement in Minneapolis, 1915–1945

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