PROFILE OF THE TEXTILE INDUSTRY
This introductory profile of the U.S. textile industry depicts two conjunctural processes within the industry. On the one hand, the industry has traditionally been characterized by small mills engaged in intense competition from U.S. and foreign firms, but there has been an increased tendency toward the concentration and centralization of textile capital during the post-World War II period. Larger and larger amounts of resources are under the control of a shrinking number of corporations. On the other hand, the textile industry has traditionally been characterized by a relatively low level of unionization. Prior to the post-World War II period, textile workers' unions made deep gains into organizing the industry. These two processes are important for two reasons: increasing unionization of the industry is anathema to textile capital, and increasing concentration and centralization of capital give larger mills greater resources that can then be employed to resist unionization (e.g., through mechanization of the labor force and capital relocation).
This chapter is divided into three sections. A profile of the textile industry defines and compares it to other industries in the United States. Next, the tendency of increasing concentration and centralization of textile capital is demonstrated. Finally, there is a discussion of the inroads made in unionization in the industry prior to the post-World War II period.
Textiles was one of the earliest forms of production to industrialize. Indeed, it was the prototype of the Industrial Revolution. Textile mills in the United States were not only the first units of industrial production equipped for large-scale manufacture in all processes of