Breakdown in the broker state: The Cio in southern Nevada during World War Ii

Richard W Mingus, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


During World War II, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and the American Federation of Labor (AFL) fought a bitter jurisdictional dispute at Basic Magnesium, Incorporated (BMI), a defense plant in southern Nevada. While the CIO concentrated on organizing African-American workers, the AFL colluded with plant managers and conservative politicians, including Senator Patrick A. McCarran, in an effort to destroy the industrial union. Following the CIO's victory in a representation election sponsored by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the AFL and its allies used the newly-enacted Frey Amendment, a piece of legislation which sharply limited the Board's authority to hear certain cases, to deny the CIO bargaining rights at Basic Magnesium. The neutralization of the NLRB also rendered the Fair Employment Practices Commission and the National War Labor Board powerless, thus revealing the weakness of the national broker state when confronted with determined local resistance.