Study Questions

Judith Stein:  Running Steel, Running America


1.      How does Stein propose that the steel industry unites and encompasses the various post-war historical narratives?  Does she prove her case?

2.      Did the Korean War resolve or postpone the conflict between the government and the steel industry?  How?

3.      What reasons does Stein give for the union’s political weakness?

4.      How did the actions of the government—both the Eisenhower administration and Congress—lead to the 1959 strike?

5.      Why did Kennedy feel “betrayed” by the steel industry in 1962?  What did he do in response?  How did this lead to the 1964 tax cut?

6.      How did the industrialization of the south after World War II power the civil rights movement?  How does this transformation contrast with the similar period in Detroit as described in Sugrue?

7.      How did the seniority system inhibit the ability of black workers to advance?  As mills automated and merged workforces how did seniority complicate matters?

8.      Why were the civil rights demonstrations and the negotiations regarding segregation in the tin mill so separate, even though they occurred in the same city and at the same time?

9.      Why was the War on Poverty in opposition to a comprehensive manpower policy?  Why does Stein feel that a manpower policy necessitates a critical stance on the structure of the American economy?

10.  What were the political actions that transformed the system-oriented FEPC of Humphrey’s S.1937 into the discrimination-oriented EEOC of Title VII?  In what way did Keynesian economics affect this?

11.  How did the union use arbitration and their nondiscrimination clause to change the promotion system at TCI?

12.  Why was both the USWA and US Steel alienated from the early EEOC?  What was the downside of the court strategy, and why did the EEOC favor it?

13.  What effect, ultimately, did framing all labor issues as race issues have on the union at Lackawanna?  How did the actions (or inactions) of Bethlehem Steel damage worker unity?

14.  Why did the court and government emphasis on transfers and seniority have limited effect in increasing promotions of blacks at both Lackawanna and Sparrow’s Point?

15.  What were the policies of the Nixon administration that placed even more emphasis on litigation?

16.  How does Stein feel the Pointer decision clarified the seniority issue?

17.  What was the role of the USWA in the Supreme Court decisions of the early 70s?  How did this effect the USWA’s relations with the LDF?

18.  Did those judgments further clarify Title VII?

19.  What shift in economic thought described by Alan Brinkley does Stein note as a driving force behind free trade policies of the sixties and seventies?

20.  What effet does Stein claim the monetary, tax and antitrust policies of the fifties and sixties have on the overall corporate economic structure?

21.  What led to the “dumping” of imported steel into the US market in the late 70s?

22.  Why did the grass roots efforts to save the steelworks in Youngstown ultimately fail?  Why was the USWA unable to capitalize on those efforts?

23.  How does Stein portray the Keynesians’ economic policies as failing Carter during the crises of the late 70s?  Do you agree that his economic policy was “the glue keeping the Democratic party’s diverse constituencies together”(271)?  Does Stein succeed in placing steel at the center of these events?

24.  How did the Reagan tax policies and monetary policies favor some economic sectors over others?  How did this conflict with the expectations of the steel industry?

25.  What was the effect of the Reagan policies of free trade and increased defense spending on the position of the US steel industry versus its foreign competitors?

26.  Why did collective bargaining break down in the steel industry?

27.  According to Stein, in what ways were the distinctions made by Reagan of high-tech vs. manufacturing, or manufacturing vs. service industries false dichotomies?