Capital-labor relationships in the U.S. textile industry have undergone changes in the post-World War II period. It is the purpose of this book to examine these changes: both the nature of the concrete strategies employed by mill owners and workers during the post-World War II period and their subsequent effects on textile capital-labor relationships. These transformations are a consequence of a particular conjuncture of conditions in the industry as well as a force reshaping subsequent class relationships.
The textile industry consists of those firms within Standard Industrial Classification No. 22, which are primarily concerned with the spinning, weaving, knitting, and tufting of fabrics and other materials. Textile production is thus distinguished from apparel production, which transforms textile products into clothing.
Textile production is generally considered a competitive-sector industry because it is relatively fragmented, and a relatively high proportion of total production costs are attributed to labor. Although the textile industry has remained one of the least unionized industries in the United States, inroads into organizing textile workers were made prior to World War II. The industry has traditionally been characterized by intense domestic competition; and this competition increased after World War II as the liberalization of world trade encouraged foreign firms to sell products in the United States. The conjuncture of union gains and increased competition created the context for mill owners to restructure capital-labor relationships and maintain competitiveness in the market.
The textile industry is an important one to examine. While there are many analyses of capital-labor relationships in monopoly- and oligopoly-sector industries, such as autos and steel, very little work has been done on competitive-sector industries such as textiles. In general the textile industry has received little scholarly, systematic treatment for the post-World War II period outside of standard business and