Automobile Workers Strikes
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Automobile workers' strikes occurred in essentially four eras: the lost strikes by the industry's craft unions in the early twentieth century, the dramatic sit-down victories of the 1930s, the mixture of wildcat and authorized strikes during the postwar economic boom from the 1940s through the 1970s, and the decline of strikes that accompanied the policy of "jointness' between company and union after J9S0. Autoworkers' strike strategies reflected, in part, the particular structure of the industry, which took shape in the 1920s. Auto production is a complex process of interdependent operations to produce parts and assemble vehicles, each containing tens of thousands of parts. These parts are either produced or bought by the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), who assemble and market vehicles. Due to the diversity of the operations and materials required to create a car, no single company carries out the whole process in one single location. The result is a networked production organization, with parts flowing through an interdependent chain of operations. Stoppages in one part of the chain within an OEM or at a supplier can result in disruptions to the overall flow of production and financial pain for the company, with implications for the national economy as a whole.
labor movement; United States; automobile workers; labor strikes
Required Publisher Statement: © Taylor & Francis. Final version published as: Greer, I. (2009). Automobile workers strikes. In A. Brenner, B. Day, & I. Ness (Eds.), The encyclopedia of strikes in American history (pp. 389-397). Armonk, NY: Routledge. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.