Shopfloor Matters: Labor-Management Relations in Twentieth-Century American Manufacturing

By David Fairris | Go to book overview

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This book began over a decade ago when, in a chapter of my doctoral dissertation, I suggested that the rise of company unions in early twentieth-century American manufacturing might be usefully viewed as an institutional change from “exit” to “voice” in the mechanisms by which workers expressed their shopfloor concerns to management. Since then—in between other research projects, a marriage, and two children—I have periodically returned to a study of the history of US shopfloor governance.

Sabbaticals at UC-Berkeley in the late 1980s, and at Harvard in the mid-1990s, gave me both the time and the inspiration to pursue these matters more seriously. During these sojourns, economists Lloyd Ulman, Michael Reich, Steve Marglin, and Richard Freeman helped to improve my arguments and to renew my interest in the subject. Long lunches with labor historian David Brody and industrial relations scholar George Strauss during the Berkeley sabbatical were also of great help to me.

Almost every part of this book has been presented at one time or another in various seminars and conferences across the country and beyond, and I thank the many participants who have helped to clarify my thinking on twentieth-century shopfloor matters. The economic historians at UC-Davis, Northwestern, and the University of Illinois; the labor economists and political economists at Harvard, UC-Berkeley, and Notre Dame; the radical economists at various conferences of the Union for Radical Political Economics; the labor historians at various conferences of the Southwest Labor Studies Association; the industrial relations scholars at various conferences of the Industrial Relations Research Association; and trade unionists at a conference of the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers, have all listened to me present my research for this book, and offered useful suggestions in return.

Many of the theoretical ideas that animate this study—the tension between shopfloor control and productive efficiency, for example, or the logic of institutional change—and many of the more sophisticated econo-metric findings produced during the course of researching this study—the time series regressions on the trajectory of postwar injury rates, for

-xi-

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Shopfloor Matters: Labor-Management Relations in Twentieth-Century American Manufacturing
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - From Exit to Voice in Shopfloor Governance 17
  • 2 - The Amoskeag Plan of Representation 47
  • 3 - The Rise of an Empowered Shopfloor Voice 57
  • 4 - Labor-Management Disputes in Meat Packing, 1936-41 89
  • 5 - Institutionalization and Decline in Workers’ Shopfloor Power 99
  • 6 - Postwar Collective-Bargaining Agreements 139
  • 7 - Contemporary Experiments with New Systems of Shopfloor Governance 146
  • 8 - A Visit to Saturn 168
  • 9 - The Future of Us Shopfloor Governance 175
  • Appendix Tables 191
  • Data Appendix 198
  • Notes 204
  • Bibliography 219
  • Index 230
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