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Will Globalization Play in Peoria? Class, Race, and Nation in the Global Economy, 1948-2000

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Title: Will Globalization Play in Peoria? Class, Race, and Nation in the Global Economy, 1948-2000
Author(s): Kozlowski, Jason
Advisor(s): Barrett, James R.
Contributor(s): Roediger, David R.; Leff, Mark H.; Feurer, Rosemary
Department / Program: History
Discipline: US History Since 1815
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Doctoral
Subject(s): Globalization De-industrialization Peoria Labor Relations United Auto Workers Caterpillar
Abstract: De-industrialization and the globalization of labor processes fundamentally altered the lives of working-class Americans, both at work and in their communities, in the second half of the twentieth century. As a result, unions and especially the industrial workers belonging to them existed in a far different, less certain, and less optimistic world than their counterparts at the end of World War Two. America’s economic and industrial hegemony after the war buckled under the assault from within, especially with the proliferation of global manufacturing systems, and without through intensified foreign competition. Plant closings and technological changes such as computerization and automation jeopardized working-class prospects for upward mobility through manual labor. Once-dominant labor unions in manufacturing industries such as earthmoving equipment, steel, auto, electronics, and textiles suffered steep and, thus far, irreversible losses in numbers and strength. The consequences have been deep and largely deleterious, with workers facing heightened competition for good paying but increasingly scarce industrial jobs, the drastic decline and political influence of organized labor, and a radically recalibrated balance of power in labor relations in favor of employers. This dissertation examines the globalization of work processes, the destructive forces and consequences of deindustrialization, and their impact on labor relations between Caterpillar Inc. and the United Auto Workers from 1948 to 2000. It analyzes the ways in which workers as laboring consumers experienced, understood, and responded to the increasingly interconnected and unstable global economy in the postwar period. In the process, the dissertation proffers a critique of labor relations in the US, the bureaucratic unionism that has become entrenched within it, and the struggles within unions and local communities. Incorporating social, labor, and business history, this study contributes to the literature on globalization and the decline of the labor movement by connecting myriad sites such as the shop floor, local communities, federal policies, and transnational trade and labor-relations strategies. Utilizing myriad archival sources such as corporate and union newspapers, grievance and arbitration cases, and internal union documents, as well as oral histories with current and former Caterpillar workers and UAW officials, the dissertation illustrates the complex and often constraining nexus of social, economic, political, and nationalistic forces facing workers in a declining industrial landscape.
Issue Date: 2012-02-06
Genre: thesis
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/29712
Rights Information: Copyright 2011 Jason Kozlowski
Date Available in IDEALS: 2012-02-06
Date Deposited: 2011-12
 

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