Plant Closings: Power, Politics, and Workers

Plant Closings: Power, Politics, and Workers

Plant Closings: Power, Politics, and Workers

Plant Closings: Power, Politics, and Workers

Synopsis

Why has the drastic assault on U. S. workers' economic well-being represented by plant closings not spurred them to greater political and trade union militancy? The answers lie in the myths and power structure of our society's legal and business institutions. By comparing worker experiences in Youngstown, Ohio, where plant closings and layoffs are not regulated, and Longwy, France, where legislation had been enacted, Rothstein gauges the markedly different effects.

Excerpt

During an extended period of residence in Europe in the 1970's, I was reminded daily by the media of worker and community concern in France over then-current plant closings and employee layoffs. Militant worker reaction to threatened shutdowns had its most extreme form in the highly publicized occupation and running of the lip watch plant in France by workers in 1974. But worker demands were also widespread for more extensive national legislation requiring prior notice to workers and communities of plant shutdowns, worker participation in decisions concerning industrial policies leading to shutdowns, and benefits for workers laid off for economic reasons. the adoption of such legislation has been a common response in Europe to widespread layoffs.

The adoption of plant closing legislation to offset the detrimental effects on communities and workers thus appeared to this American living in Europe to be a normal response to a serious human problem. Returning to the United States in the late seventies, in the midst of an economic recession in the Northeast industrialized regions, I found plant closings once again in the news, with plant closing legislation proposed as one response. But plant closing legislation has generally been unsuccessful in the United States. Efforts to adopt federal legislation recently failed, and few states or local communities have adopted such laws. Why, I asked myself, was a response so widely adopted in European countries so unsuccessful in the United States? Professor Rothstein's book has provided a thoughtful answer to my query.

This book on plant closings is a sophisticated and well- documented analysis of the differing political, legal, and social climates in the United States and France which have led, respectively, to failure to adopt plant closing legislation in the United States but to successful adoption in France. Professor Rothstein's . . .

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