It was a test of status quo vs. change in the union movement -- and status quo won. Two sharply contrasting views on trade unionism clashed this month as the small but important Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers reelected Robert F. Goss as president. Goss defeated a 30-year union bureacrat, Anthony Mazzocchi, in a repeat of a 1979 contest between the two.
Goss believes the labor movement is in good shape: Mazzocchi argued that it is in serious jeopardy, led by "top leaders who have forgotten where they came from," and in need of the aggressive and innovative tactics that spurred labor growth in the 1940s and '50s. Goss now has the difficult task of healing serious divisions in the 155,000-member union.
"The union movement has got to stand for something if it is to win worker support," Mazzocchi says, an argument being echoed today by young, rebellious leaders in other unions.m