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Find a pool of cheap, pliable workers and give them jobs--and soon they cease to be as cheap or as pliable. What is an employer to do then? Why, find another poor community desperate for work.
This route--one taken time and again by major American manufacturers--is vividly chronicled in this fascinating account of RCA's half century-long search for desirable sources of labor. Capital Moves introduces us to the people most affected by the migration of industry and, most importantly, recounts how they came to fight against the idea that they were simply "cheap labor.
Jefferson Cowie tells the dramatic story of four communities, each irrevocably transformed by the opening of an industrial plant. From the manufacturer's first factory in Camden, New Jersey, where it employed large numbers of southern and eastern European immigrants, RCA moved to rural Indiana in , hiring Americans of Scotch-Irish descent for its plant in Bloomington.
Then, in the volatile s, the company relocated to Memphis where African Americans made up the core of the labor pool. Finally, the company landed in northern Mexico in the s--a region rapidly becoming one of the most industrialized on the continent.
I found much of the language to be needlessly antagonistic to capitalism, but Cowie industrial and labor relations, Cornell Univ. Jefferson Cowie. Bloomington Memphis Ciudad Juarez The Distances In Between. Camden
I found much of the language to be needlessly antagonistic to capitalism, but Cowie industrial and labor relations, Cornell Univ. Jefferson Cowie. The highly acclaimed account of one renowned company's labor struggles in its rise to global power. Globalization is the lead story of the new century, but its roots reach back nearly one hundred years, to major corporations' quest for stable, inexpensive, and pliant sources of labor. Before the largest companies moved beyond national boundaries, they crossed state lines, abandoning the industrial centers of the Eastern Seaboard for impoverished rural communities in the Midwest and South. In their wake they left the decaying urban landscapes and unemployment rates that became hallmarks of late-twentieth-century America.
Capital Moves: RCA's Seventy-Year Quest for Cheap Labor
Jefferson Cowie , Cornell University Follow. Revealing a much longer and more complicated history of capital migration than we tend to hear about in the "global era," the story moves through four very distinct places and cultures as it examines the remarkably similar experiences of all of them with a single industry. Beginning with Southern and Eastern European immigrants in industrial New Jersey during the Great Depression, RCA moved production to employ ethnic Scotch-Irish workers in rural Indiana in , briefly employed a combination of African American and white wage earners in Tennessee during the s, and, since , has employed Mexican workers in the border state of Chihuahua. Taken together, the chapters that follow comprise a comparative social history of industrial relocation that explores community life, gender, and labor organization across time and space. Placing the impact of capital migration on these working-class communities in a context that is both historically and internationally comparative, this book shows how social changes at the local level drive the relocation of capital investment. Suggested Citation Cowie, J. Introduction [Electronic version].