While textile workers won gains prior to the onset of the post World War IIperiod, the level of unionization was much lower than that of other industries such as automobiles, steel, and coal, and, as noted above, there was much more unionization in the North than in the South. Moreover, U.S. textile workers were much less organized than West European workers.28 Nevertheless, such levels of unionization were still anathema to textile capital, whose competitive standing was potentially threatened. Gains in bargaining rights for textile workers have been linked to increases in labor costs and U.S. producers could be placed at a competitive disadvantage.29 The post World War IIperiod thus became one where textile capital sought to reverse union gains as one strategy to maintain competitiveness, while textile workers sought to maintain and further their gains.
While still primarily a competitive-sector industry, the production of textiles has become increasingly more concentrated and centralized during the post-World War II period. While still primarily labor intensive, the industry is becoming increasingly more capital intensive, especially within larger corporations where new forms of technology are more likely to be introduced. Textile workers have never been highly organized, but some of their greatest successes were made prior to and during the World War II period. At this point, they were a relatively active and militant union. Northern workers were more likely to be organized than their southern counterparts. Because the organization of textile workers is clearly against the interests of textile capital, the latter sought to reduce union gains, and larger, more concentrated mills were in a better position to invest in measures necessary to meet this goal. Increasing mechanization of the labor process and capital relocation are two pivotal measures employed by textile capital in their efforts to offset gains won by textile workers. Greater financial resources at the disposal of larger companies accelerated this effort.