Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : American Plan
American Plan

American Plan

During World War I, the United States Steel Corporation branded union organizers in its Chicago mills as “German propagandists” and demanded that steelworkers sign a vow against striking called a “Pledge of Patriotism.” In the postwar period, other vehemently antiunion employers continued to attack unions as un-American, charging that they subverted individualism and were adversarial and inefficient. In 1921 a convention of Midwestern employers meeting in Chicago formally designated the nonunion or “open shop” the “American Plan.”

Implying a linkage between unionism and the Bolshevism of the Red Scare, these American Plan employers pledged that they would neither recognize nor negotiate with union representatives. The most committed refused to purchase materials from unionized vendors or to sell supplies to strikers. A few firms adorned their products with patriotic symbols to indicate that they were made with nonunion labor. After New Deal legislation compelled employers to bargain with unions, the activism of the American Plan subsided.

Dunn, Robert W. The Americanization of Labor. 1927.
Wakstein, Allen M. “The Origins of the Open-Shop Movement, 1919–1920.” Journal of American History 51 (1964): 460–475