Capital-Labor Relations in the U.S. Textile Industry

By Barry E. Truchil | Go to book overview
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vote in a union, the plant will close. Since many mill communities are located in rural areas, as in the North, the effects of mill shutdowns are adverse, even devastating, for the workers and the communities as a whole. Much capital movement has been to other regions in the South, as well as overseas, where labor costs in Third World areas sometimes comprise only one-seventh of U.S. wages. As conditions that facilitate the mobility of textile capital continuously improve, gains previously won by workers are more likely to be lost. Hence many aspects of southern textile class relations may take on characteristics of what occurred in the North. That is, general processes of struggle, and responses of both capital and labor to them, recur.

David Doane, "Regional Cost Differences and Textile Location: A Statistical Analysis", Explanations in Economic History 9, no. 1 ( 1971), pp. 3-4.
John R. Earle, Dean D. Knudson, and Donald W. Shriver Jr., Spindles and Spires ( Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1976), p. 189.
James Morris, "Cotton and Wool Textiles: Case Studies in Industrial Migration", The Journal of Industrial Economics 2, no. 1 ( November 1953), p. 72. Dwight Billings , in Planters and the Making of the New South ( Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979), also sees the postwar period as a new boom for the southern region. Between 1947 and 1962, manufacturing employment increased 42 percent, while the national average was only 13 percent (p. 30).
W. Stanley Devino, Arnold H. Raphaelson, and James A. Storer, A Study of Textile Mill Closings in Selected New England Communities ( Orono: University of Maine Press, 1966); William Miernyk and Nadine P. Rodwin, Inter-Industry Labor Mobility: The Case of the Displaced Textile Worker ( Boston: Northeastern University, Bureau of Business and Economic Research, 1955). See also Charles Myers and George P. Schultz, The Dynamics of a Labor Market ( New York: Prentice-Hall, 1951); and Seymour Wolfbein, The Decline of a Cotton Textile Mill City ( New York: Columbia University Press, 1944).
C. B. J. Bomers, Multinational Corporations and Industrial Relations (Assen, The Netherlands: Van Corcum Press, 1976), pp. 17-28; Charles Levinson, Capital, Inflation and the Multinationals ( London: George Allen and Unwin, 1972), pp. 96-98.

These advantages to capital apply to both expansion within a nation-state and beyond its borders. As a firm becomes a multinational company, however, these advantages become more apparent because legal, financial, and cultural barriers, among others, impede workers and unions from knowing the facts and hinder organizing efforts. Most of the largest textile firms are multinationals, although their foreign operations do not necessarily reach the proportions of the more celebrated ones, that is, autos, electronics, and the like.

See Barry Bluestone and Bennett Harrison, Capital and Communities ( Washington, D.C.: A Progressive Alliance Publication, 1980), pp. 107-139. Their similar discussions on capital flight to the South and the textile industry can be found in a later work, The Deindustrialization of America ( New York: Basic Books, 1982).
See Harry Braverman, Labor and Monopoly Capital ( New York: Monthly Review Press, 1974), pp. 79-82, for a more in-depth discussion of this principle.
See Fred Block, The Origins of International Economic Disorder ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977); David Landes, The Unbound Prometheus ( London:


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