The Role of Professional and Technical Workers in Progressive Social Transformation

  • Robert Heifetz
Keywords: Labor


During the 1930s, a small but significant group of radical professional and technical workers formed the Federation of Architects, Engineers, Chemists, and Technicians (FAECT), a predominantly left-led labor union within the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). The formation of this union took place within the context of the emerging "new working class" of professional and technical workers, the consequence of US capital's embrace of science and "scientific management" during the period of rapid capitalist development between 1890 and 1930. FAECT was instrumental in demonstrating that at least one sector of these workers could break the hegemony that the elitist and often anti-union professional societies had over those workers by more successfully addressing their pressing economic and professional concerns. By integrating these members of the "new working class" into the older, blue-collar working class, FAECT also helped to weaken the ideological, psychological, and organizational ties management had sought to build with this new stratum, winning them instead to the progressive social agenda of the growing trade-union movement.