Capital-Labor Relations in the U.S. Textile Industry

By Barry E. Truchil | Go to book overview

5
WEAKENING OF TEXTILE LABOR

INTRODUCION

Economic, social, and political processes have contributed to the weakening of textile labor during the post-World War II period. Mechanization further routinized textile labor, and certain jobs at various stages of production have been eliminated. Increasing mechanization has contributed to the weakening of textile labor because while skilled textile workers were more likely to support unionization in the 1950s, deskilling and routinization hindered their bargaining position. Moreover, the elimination of many jobs during the post-World War II period, and the threat of more job losses, has fostered conservatism. The continuous relocation of textile capital from the North to the South weakened textile labor, as textile capital substituted a more docile labor force for a more militant one. The deleterious effects upon northern textile communities when the mills left the area also checked working-class militancy. While mechanization generally affects workers in most industries in a similar way, textile workers are more acutely affected by textile relocation. Because textile labor costs assume a higher proportion of total product costs than in most other industries, the industry is more vulnerable to competition from areas with cheap labor costs. Consequently, demands to increase wages can more adversely affect the competitiveness of firms in labor-intensive industries such as textiles. Moreover, workers in other industries do not encounter the low degree of transferability of skills from one industry to another as do textile workers. In addition, textile workers are more likely to be located in rural communities where overall employment patterns are heavily dependent upon the textile industry.

The state actively participates in textile capital-labor relationships. In instances of militant strikes, for example, state forces have sought to assure that strikebreaking workers can easily pass striking workers at

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Capital-Labor Relations in the U.S. Textile Industry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Preface xi
  • Notes xiv
  • 1 - Profile of The Textile Industry 1
  • Notes 14
  • 2 - Mechanization in The Textile Labor Process 17
  • Notes 38
  • 3 - Textile Capital Relocation 41
  • Notes 85
  • 4 - State Intervention In Textile-Labor Relationships 91
  • Notes 121
  • 5 - Weakening Of Textile Labor 127
  • Notes 146
  • 6 - Conclusion 149
  • Appendix: Acquisitions And Deacquisitions of The 15 Largest U.S. Textile Companies, 1946-83 155
  • Selected Bibliography 169
  • Index 193
  • About the Author 195
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