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

By Barry E. Truchil | Go to book overview

directly intervened in labor disputes, such as strikes, and prevented striking workers form maintaining picket lines, which were seen as the key to the success of strikes. Virtually all of the southern strikes ended in failure, and the severity of labor's defeats in the region remains in the memory of many southern textile workers. These defeats constitute a social force in contemporary capital-labor relationships.

State economic policies toward the textile industry are divided by local and national levels. At the local level, particularly in the South, the interests of textile capital are more likely to be met, as mill owners enjoy more social, economic, and political weight in this region. Southern states have passed right-to-work laws, and textile capital has at times been able to discourage firms that pay wages higher than those found in textiles and/or are not committed to maintaining a vehement antiunion climate from locating in mill communities. Such policies help perpetuate structural impediments to working-class organizations.

State policies at the national level also affect capital-labor relationships in the textile industry. During the industry's nadir in the early 1960s, federal-state policies rejuvenated the industry by facilitating increasing capitalist accumulation through two key measures. First, the subsidizing of cotton consumption reduced raw material costs by over 25 percent. Liberalized depreciation schedules exhorted the adoption of the most recent technological developments. In turn, these policies led to greater mechanization within the industry. Another form of state intervention concerns the tariff code. Tariff items 806.30 and 807.00 encourage the relocation of production facilities to areas of cheap and docile labor, although the response of the textile industry to this latter incentive appears negligible at this time -- a handful of firms have set up garment sewing plants overseas to take advantage of 807.00 provisions. Because state policies abet mechanization of the labor process and capital relocation, which have been shown to weaken textile labor vis-à-vis textile capital, these forms of state intervention can be said to contribute to the weakening of textile labor during the post-World War II period.

Because the state at the national level also mollifies the most glaring inequities within its domain, certain programs have aimed to benefit textile workers. Federal agencies, such as OSHA, seek to provide standards for workplace settings so that workers are provided hazardfree working conditions. However, critics of these agencies have argued that agencies such as OSHA are not given the resources, at this time, to enforce their standards.


NOTES
1.
See, for example, Gosta Esping-Anderson, Roger Friedland, and Erik Olin Wright , "Modes of Class Struggle and the Capitalist State", Kapitalistate 4-5 ( 1976),

-121-

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Capital-Labor Relations in the U.S. Textile Industry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Preface xi
  • Notes xiv
  • 1 - Profile of The Textile Industry 1
  • Notes 14
  • 2 - Mechanization in The Textile Labor Process 17
  • Notes 38
  • 3 - Textile Capital Relocation 41
  • Notes 85
  • 4 - State Intervention In Textile-Labor Relationships 91
  • Notes 121
  • 5 - Weakening Of Textile Labor 127
  • Notes 146
  • 6 - Conclusion 149
  • Appendix: Acquisitions And Deacquisitions of The 15 Largest U.S. Textile Companies, 1946-83 155
  • Selected Bibliography 169
  • Index 193
  • About the Author 195
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