New Deal Labor Policy and the American Industrial Economy

By Stanley Vittoz | Go to book overview

2

Protocol of Peace

Before the New Deal, key management figures in the American cotton textile industry constantly labored to devise a workable strategy for the control of production schedules and price competition. Although leading operators in the South as well as the North were convinced that greater economic stability could be achieved by regularizing the terms of employment, their efforts almost wholly neglected to anticipate the reaction of organized labor because trade unions in the textile industry were not an economic power that management was compelled to respect. This situation contrasted sharply with that in the garment manufacturing industry, in which the independent status of trade unions was integral to the dynamics of business competition.

To a greater extent perhaps than any other industry in the country, garment manufacturing in the United States is, and always has been, characterized by an exceedingly competitive market structure. Extremely low capital requirements and the destabilizing influence of frequent style changes, as well as highly diversified product specialization, have had the combined effect of continually undermining the security of established market shares within the industry.

New York City traditionally has been the center of the trade, particularly in the manufacture of women's apparel. Throughout the period under consideration here, the wholesale value of women's wear turned out by New York shops formed a steadily increasing proportion of the national aggregate: 64 percent in 1899, 69 percent in 1909, and 74 percent in 1921. By contrast, the national market share of producers in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, and several other less significant locations underwent a gradual decline. In Philadelphia, for instance, where the local product constituted 7.8 percent of the value of the industry's total output in 1909, ten years later the figure had fallen to 5.8 percent, and it fell another full point by 1921. In Cleveland, the proportion declined from 3.3 percent in 1909 to 2.5 percent in 1921. At the same time, however, New York did not pick up all, or even most, of the slack. After 1909, and especially after 1912, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Toledo, St.

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New Deal Labor Policy and the American Industrial Economy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • New Deal Labor Policy and the American Industrial Economy *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • New Deal Labor Policy and the American Industrial Economy *
  • Introduction 3
  • Part One - Economic Foundations of Industrial Politics Before the New Deal *
  • 1 - Lean Years 15
  • 2 - Protocol of Peace 34
  • 3 - The Miners' Bargain 47
  • Part Two - Labor and the Nira: a Concert of Interests *
  • 4 - Legislative Odyssey 73
  • 5 - Codified Capitalism, I 97
  • 6 - Codified Capitalism, II 119
  • Part Three - Labors "Second" New Deal: a Matter of Equity *
  • 7 - Politics: the Wagner Act 137
  • 8 - Economics: the Stakes of Power 153
  • Conclusion 165
  • Notes 175
  • Bibliography 217
  • Index 237
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