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4

Each of RCA's plant relocations represents the corporation's response to workers' increasing sense of entitlement and control over investment in their community. Capital flight was a means of countering that control as the company sought out new reservoirs of controllable labor. The search for inexpensive and malleable workers that shaped each location decision had its own subversive logic, however: the integration of production into the economy and social life of the new site irrevocably transformed the community into a new place of conflict with the corporation. In each location, a glut of potential employees shrank over time into a tightening labor market, once deferential workers organized into a union shop, and years of toil on the shop floor recast docility into a contentious and demanding, if isolated and ambivalent, working class. The geographic terrain inhabited by capital was far larger than labor's niche, however, and corporate leaders chose to move once the cultural resources of the old site no longer suited their needs. The shaping of the economic and social landscape, therefore, must be understood as a tale not simply of the unilateral power of capital but, equally important, of the resources wielded by workers who chose over time to fight for a position independent of management's well-laid plans and expectations.

such a good summary which explains why labor organizing is the shadow of capitalism

—p.4 Introduction (1) by Jefferson R. Cowie 3 years ago

Each of RCA's plant relocations represents the corporation's response to workers' increasing sense of entitlement and control over investment in their community. Capital flight was a means of countering that control as the company sought out new reservoirs of controllable labor. The search for inexpensive and malleable workers that shaped each location decision had its own subversive logic, however: the integration of production into the economy and social life of the new site irrevocably transformed the community into a new place of conflict with the corporation. In each location, a glut of potential employees shrank over time into a tightening labor market, once deferential workers organized into a union shop, and years of toil on the shop floor recast docility into a contentious and demanding, if isolated and ambivalent, working class. The geographic terrain inhabited by capital was far larger than labor's niche, however, and corporate leaders chose to move once the cultural resources of the old site no longer suited their needs. The shaping of the economic and social landscape, therefore, must be understood as a tale not simply of the unilateral power of capital but, equally important, of the resources wielded by workers who chose over time to fight for a position independent of management's well-laid plans and expectations.

such a good summary which explains why labor organizing is the shadow of capitalism

—p.4 Introduction (1) by Jefferson R. Cowie 3 years ago
6

This book, therefore, focuses on the relationship between industrial investment and social change, and it is only peripherally concerned with the well-studied impact of "deindustrialization." The firm that abruptly closes down and abandons its workers to the streets, although perhaps the dominant image of the problem, is actually much less typical than the plant that undergoes a more subtle process of cutbacks, attrition, and the gradual relocation or elimination of industrial jobs. The closure of any plant is of political and social concern, but the final shutdown of a factory-the act that draws the public's attention-usually comes only at the end of a long, silent process of job relocation. These evolutionary changes in the employment structure often mask much of the subtle drama of labor history and hide from the actors themselves both the profundity of the transformations and the continuities in the pattern of events. Such is the case with this history of RCA's radio and television assembly, which can be understood as a "runaway shop" only in the loosest sense, as the corporation shifted employment opportunities over the course of decades rather than simply relocating entire factories wholesale.

—p.6 Introduction (1) by Jefferson R. Cowie 3 years ago

This book, therefore, focuses on the relationship between industrial investment and social change, and it is only peripherally concerned with the well-studied impact of "deindustrialization." The firm that abruptly closes down and abandons its workers to the streets, although perhaps the dominant image of the problem, is actually much less typical than the plant that undergoes a more subtle process of cutbacks, attrition, and the gradual relocation or elimination of industrial jobs. The closure of any plant is of political and social concern, but the final shutdown of a factory-the act that draws the public's attention-usually comes only at the end of a long, silent process of job relocation. These evolutionary changes in the employment structure often mask much of the subtle drama of labor history and hide from the actors themselves both the profundity of the transformations and the continuities in the pattern of events. Such is the case with this history of RCA's radio and television assembly, which can be understood as a "runaway shop" only in the loosest sense, as the corporation shifted employment opportunities over the course of decades rather than simply relocating entire factories wholesale.

—p.6 Introduction (1) by Jefferson R. Cowie 3 years ago
8

As each community is unique, however, so is each industry. A word on the idiosyncrasies of the consumer electronics industry is therefore in order. This sector suffers most acutely from one of the most enduring problems of free enterprise: overproduction. The constant revolution in materials and manufacturing has produced more goods ever more efficiently with fewer inputs, and this phenomenon has continued to lower prices and undermine the rate of return on investment for firms willing to enter this fiercest of industries. Since the advent of both radio and television, each generation of consumers has been able to purchase a better product at a lower price than the previous one. Crisper pictures, clearer sounds, and more compact sets have all been delivered to consumers with a shrinking price tag. With a relentless downward pressure on production costs, the search for cheap labor has held a pivotal position in firms' strategies to beat their competitors. This pressure has placed the burden of low prices on the shoulders of people toiling on an assembly line that stretches from New Jersey to Chihuahua. Because of the particularly brutal competition that shapes this market, the RCA story offers a more compressed and heightened example than is likely to be found in other industries. The tale of this company's flight, rather than emblematic of larger trends, might more appropriately be regarded as a bellwether for the broader path of industrial employment.

—p.8 Introduction (1) by Jefferson R. Cowie 3 years ago

As each community is unique, however, so is each industry. A word on the idiosyncrasies of the consumer electronics industry is therefore in order. This sector suffers most acutely from one of the most enduring problems of free enterprise: overproduction. The constant revolution in materials and manufacturing has produced more goods ever more efficiently with fewer inputs, and this phenomenon has continued to lower prices and undermine the rate of return on investment for firms willing to enter this fiercest of industries. Since the advent of both radio and television, each generation of consumers has been able to purchase a better product at a lower price than the previous one. Crisper pictures, clearer sounds, and more compact sets have all been delivered to consumers with a shrinking price tag. With a relentless downward pressure on production costs, the search for cheap labor has held a pivotal position in firms' strategies to beat their competitors. This pressure has placed the burden of low prices on the shoulders of people toiling on an assembly line that stretches from New Jersey to Chihuahua. Because of the particularly brutal competition that shapes this market, the RCA story offers a more compressed and heightened example than is likely to be found in other industries. The tale of this company's flight, rather than emblematic of larger trends, might more appropriately be regarded as a bellwether for the broader path of industrial employment.

—p.8 Introduction (1) by Jefferson R. Cowie 3 years ago
13

The corporation that transformed the Victor works into such an industrial giant, the Radio Corporation of America, began in 1919 as a government-supported monopoly financed by the biggest names in the electrical industry. Before World War I, the wireless communications industry had been foreign-owned and chaotically organized, but when the United States committed itself to the war effort, President Woodrow Wilson placed the industry under the monopoly power of the U.S. Navy. Although the government did not, as some people advocated, establish absolute control over the industry, it did facilitate the creation of the Radio Corporation of America as a patriotic "marriage of convenience" of private electrical corporations as a way to keep wireless communication in American possession and to develop it for the national good.

Under an agreement to pool patents and capital forged by General Electric's Owen D. Young, the ownership of RCA belonged to GE (30.1 %), Westinghouse (20.6%), AT&T (10.3%), and United Fruit (4.1 %), with a variety of other holders accounting for the remaining 34.9 percent. The agreement also stipulated that RCA would sell radio equipment manufactured by its principal owners, which the new corporation could purchase from the parent corporations on a simple formula of cost plus 20 percent. As early as 1926 RCA broadened its original plan from "narrowcast" communications to public "broadcast" by organizing the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). The growing network of radio stations formed in the 1920s helped to make RCA one of the key growth stocks during the heady investment years of the Jazz Age, but it was actually manufacturing and licensing of patents that made RCA the instant giant of the communications industry.

im sorry what??? united fruit??

—p.13 In Defiance of Their Master's Voice: Camden, 1929-1950 (12) by Jefferson R. Cowie 3 years ago

The corporation that transformed the Victor works into such an industrial giant, the Radio Corporation of America, began in 1919 as a government-supported monopoly financed by the biggest names in the electrical industry. Before World War I, the wireless communications industry had been foreign-owned and chaotically organized, but when the United States committed itself to the war effort, President Woodrow Wilson placed the industry under the monopoly power of the U.S. Navy. Although the government did not, as some people advocated, establish absolute control over the industry, it did facilitate the creation of the Radio Corporation of America as a patriotic "marriage of convenience" of private electrical corporations as a way to keep wireless communication in American possession and to develop it for the national good.

Under an agreement to pool patents and capital forged by General Electric's Owen D. Young, the ownership of RCA belonged to GE (30.1 %), Westinghouse (20.6%), AT&T (10.3%), and United Fruit (4.1 %), with a variety of other holders accounting for the remaining 34.9 percent. The agreement also stipulated that RCA would sell radio equipment manufactured by its principal owners, which the new corporation could purchase from the parent corporations on a simple formula of cost plus 20 percent. As early as 1926 RCA broadened its original plan from "narrowcast" communications to public "broadcast" by organizing the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). The growing network of radio stations formed in the 1920s helped to make RCA one of the key growth stocks during the heady investment years of the Jazz Age, but it was actually manufacturing and licensing of patents that made RCA the instant giant of the communications industry.

im sorry what??? united fruit??

—p.13 In Defiance of Their Master's Voice: Camden, 1929-1950 (12) by Jefferson R. Cowie 3 years ago
17

Of the 9,800 workers employed at RCA in 1936, approximately 75 percent were women. They did all the wiring, crimping, and soldering on the radio sets. On the main production floor, which stretched the length of two football fields, each female line worker performed the labor-intensive operations on 400 to 800 radio chassis each day. Male inspectors stood at intervals of every ten to fifteen female workers to monitor their performance as the women applied the heavy 200-watt irons to the 300 solder joints necessary to build the average radio in 1935. Women working on an incentive piece-rate system also labored on the feeder lines that built intricate subassemblies and components to be placed on the main assembly lines. In contrast, men's part in the production process was to perform the test and repair procedures, build the large and elaborate wooden radio cabinets, staff the machine shop, and design and build the models and prototypes of products that would soon be rolling off the assembly lines.

—p.17 In Defiance of Their Master's Voice: Camden, 1929-1950 (12) by Jefferson R. Cowie 3 years ago

Of the 9,800 workers employed at RCA in 1936, approximately 75 percent were women. They did all the wiring, crimping, and soldering on the radio sets. On the main production floor, which stretched the length of two football fields, each female line worker performed the labor-intensive operations on 400 to 800 radio chassis each day. Male inspectors stood at intervals of every ten to fifteen female workers to monitor their performance as the women applied the heavy 200-watt irons to the 300 solder joints necessary to build the average radio in 1935. Women working on an incentive piece-rate system also labored on the feeder lines that built intricate subassemblies and components to be placed on the main assembly lines. In contrast, men's part in the production process was to perform the test and repair procedures, build the large and elaborate wooden radio cabinets, staff the machine shop, and design and build the models and prototypes of products that would soon be rolling off the assembly lines.

—p.17 In Defiance of Their Master's Voice: Camden, 1929-1950 (12) by Jefferson R. Cowie 3 years ago
18

[...] In the auto sector, for instance, management based its control over labor on the combination of the moving assembly line, which dramatically reduced labor time, and relatively high wages, which offered little incentive to substitute female labor for more expensive male workers. The manufacture of more labor-intensive and economically competitive consumer electronics equipment, in contrast, relied on "elaborately constructed piecework systems" that left labor content high and depended on the hiring of less costly women and girls. The "cheapness" of female labor, therefore, had only slight utility in the auto industry but formed the core of industrial policy in the electrical industry. Once forged, this gender formulation had its own ideology and institutional logic that persists to the present day-wherever the plants may have been relocated. These formulations even had the power to supersede the drive for profit maximization, which would dictate increased hiring of less expensive female workers in all industries.

—p.18 In Defiance of Their Master's Voice: Camden, 1929-1950 (12) by Jefferson R. Cowie 3 years ago

[...] In the auto sector, for instance, management based its control over labor on the combination of the moving assembly line, which dramatically reduced labor time, and relatively high wages, which offered little incentive to substitute female labor for more expensive male workers. The manufacture of more labor-intensive and economically competitive consumer electronics equipment, in contrast, relied on "elaborately constructed piecework systems" that left labor content high and depended on the hiring of less costly women and girls. The "cheapness" of female labor, therefore, had only slight utility in the auto industry but formed the core of industrial policy in the electrical industry. Once forged, this gender formulation had its own ideology and institutional logic that persists to the present day-wherever the plants may have been relocated. These formulations even had the power to supersede the drive for profit maximization, which would dictate increased hiring of less expensive female workers in all industries.

—p.18 In Defiance of Their Master's Voice: Camden, 1929-1950 (12) by Jefferson R. Cowie 3 years ago
19

The ideology of women's innate characteristics makes little sense except in comparative perspective. The construct of the docile, physically weak, nimble-fingered, and presumably nonunion woman worker simultaneously raised an equally mythological opposite: the clumsy, strong, aggressive, prounion male employee. Rather than reflecting actual biological or social attributes of either sex, these images spoke of the ideal type of workforce that management desired for its assembly lines. The stereotype of the female worker had less to do with any traits inherent in women than with the type of workers the company sought for the manufacture of particularly competitive goods. In a move unpredicted by anybody and unfathomable by most, however, the RCA employees were about to betray their reputation for tranquillity in what one writer called "labor's giant step" into mass-production unionism.

—p.19 In Defiance of Their Master's Voice: Camden, 1929-1950 (12) by Jefferson R. Cowie 3 years ago

The ideology of women's innate characteristics makes little sense except in comparative perspective. The construct of the docile, physically weak, nimble-fingered, and presumably nonunion woman worker simultaneously raised an equally mythological opposite: the clumsy, strong, aggressive, prounion male employee. Rather than reflecting actual biological or social attributes of either sex, these images spoke of the ideal type of workforce that management desired for its assembly lines. The stereotype of the female worker had less to do with any traits inherent in women than with the type of workers the company sought for the manufacture of particularly competitive goods. In a move unpredicted by anybody and unfathomable by most, however, the RCA employees were about to betray their reputation for tranquillity in what one writer called "labor's giant step" into mass-production unionism.

—p.19 In Defiance of Their Master's Voice: Camden, 1929-1950 (12) by Jefferson R. Cowie 3 years ago
21

In an effort to check the growth and militancy of these organizing drives, RCA launched, financed, and dominated a company union called the Employees' Committee Union (ECU) in 1933.28 The ECU gained a significant number of members among salaried and clerical employees but only a minority of production workers. RCA was far from unique in sponsoring a company union. By 1935 six to seven hundred such unions had been formed across the country, with an estimated two to three million members. About half of the workers who belonged to labor organizations in the middle of the decade, in fact, could be found in company-sponsored unions. The battle between the powerful company organization and the independent unions shaped the entire conflict over union recognition at the RCA works. Opposition from the corporation, rivalry with the company union, and the hostility of the AFL forged the fragmented organizers into an alliance, and together they formed one of the charter unions, Local 103, in the new United Electrical Workers union during its 1936 inaugural convention in snowy Buffalo, New York.

name inspo for pano

—p.21 In Defiance of Their Master's Voice: Camden, 1929-1950 (12) by Jefferson R. Cowie 3 years ago

In an effort to check the growth and militancy of these organizing drives, RCA launched, financed, and dominated a company union called the Employees' Committee Union (ECU) in 1933.28 The ECU gained a significant number of members among salaried and clerical employees but only a minority of production workers. RCA was far from unique in sponsoring a company union. By 1935 six to seven hundred such unions had been formed across the country, with an estimated two to three million members. About half of the workers who belonged to labor organizations in the middle of the decade, in fact, could be found in company-sponsored unions. The battle between the powerful company organization and the independent unions shaped the entire conflict over union recognition at the RCA works. Opposition from the corporation, rivalry with the company union, and the hostility of the AFL forged the fragmented organizers into an alliance, and together they formed one of the charter unions, Local 103, in the new United Electrical Workers union during its 1936 inaugural convention in snowy Buffalo, New York.

name inspo for pano

—p.21 In Defiance of Their Master's Voice: Camden, 1929-1950 (12) by Jefferson R. Cowie 3 years ago
22

Five days later the company union gave the RCA workers the chance they had been looking for. Long understood to be the veiled voice of the company, the ECU posted inflammatory notices against the new UE organization, and the union leadership seized the opportunity to put heat on management by calling a sit-down strike, which they claimed shut down 80 percent of production. After only five hours, however, the union called off the strike when RCA agreed to state that it did not endorse the notices put up by the ECU, that all acts of intimidation by foremen (including forcing employees to attend ECU meetings) would end, and that the company would commence negotiations immediately. Union officials later regretted giving up control of the plant, as it soon became clear that the company only wanted to get the workers out of the factory in order to have more time to prepare for the strike. The next morning, as scores of guards took their posts at strategic points to detect and report labor unrest, the plant looked like occupied territory.

more pano inspo

—p.22 In Defiance of Their Master's Voice: Camden, 1929-1950 (12) by Jefferson R. Cowie 3 years ago

Five days later the company union gave the RCA workers the chance they had been looking for. Long understood to be the veiled voice of the company, the ECU posted inflammatory notices against the new UE organization, and the union leadership seized the opportunity to put heat on management by calling a sit-down strike, which they claimed shut down 80 percent of production. After only five hours, however, the union called off the strike when RCA agreed to state that it did not endorse the notices put up by the ECU, that all acts of intimidation by foremen (including forcing employees to attend ECU meetings) would end, and that the company would commence negotiations immediately. Union officials later regretted giving up control of the plant, as it soon became clear that the company only wanted to get the workers out of the factory in order to have more time to prepare for the strike. The next morning, as scores of guards took their posts at strategic points to detect and report labor unrest, the plant looked like occupied territory.

more pano inspo

—p.22 In Defiance of Their Master's Voice: Camden, 1929-1950 (12) by Jefferson R. Cowie 3 years ago
23

Negotiations between the president of RCA's manufacturing wing in Camden and the union local rapidly collapsed, and David Sarnoff, head visionary of RCA, took over the task of dealing with the conflict from the towering new RCA office building in New York City. When the union delegation arrived to discuss matters, Sarnoff attempted to demonstrate his sympathy for the workers by telling Horatio Alger stories to the labor representatives in extended detail. His account began with desperate poverty in a shtetl in tsarist Russia in 1891, progressed to the Jewish ghetto of New York, and ended, as his biographer put it, with Sarnoff as a "corpulent, immaculately dressed, manicured, barbered, massaged, chauffeur-driven, cigar-smoking corporate prince, poised and assured, a dominating presence whose steely blue eyes fixed on subordinates could bead their brows and moisten their palms." Since his tales absorbed a considerable amount of time, the UE delegates amused themselves by smoking all of Sarnoff's cigars, and when the stories ended, Carey wryly suggested that Sarnoff should have RCA-Victor record his moving epic for posterity. Although Sarnoff was one of the most respected figures in twentieth-century business history, he had no skills or experience in labor negotiations and had little to offer the leadership of Local 103 other than his ability to filibuster the unionists. He did, however, have an image to protect as a liberal business leader and an immigrant who had made good.

lol

—p.23 In Defiance of Their Master's Voice: Camden, 1929-1950 (12) by Jefferson R. Cowie 3 years ago

Negotiations between the president of RCA's manufacturing wing in Camden and the union local rapidly collapsed, and David Sarnoff, head visionary of RCA, took over the task of dealing with the conflict from the towering new RCA office building in New York City. When the union delegation arrived to discuss matters, Sarnoff attempted to demonstrate his sympathy for the workers by telling Horatio Alger stories to the labor representatives in extended detail. His account began with desperate poverty in a shtetl in tsarist Russia in 1891, progressed to the Jewish ghetto of New York, and ended, as his biographer put it, with Sarnoff as a "corpulent, immaculately dressed, manicured, barbered, massaged, chauffeur-driven, cigar-smoking corporate prince, poised and assured, a dominating presence whose steely blue eyes fixed on subordinates could bead their brows and moisten their palms." Since his tales absorbed a considerable amount of time, the UE delegates amused themselves by smoking all of Sarnoff's cigars, and when the stories ended, Carey wryly suggested that Sarnoff should have RCA-Victor record his moving epic for posterity. Although Sarnoff was one of the most respected figures in twentieth-century business history, he had no skills or experience in labor negotiations and had little to offer the leadership of Local 103 other than his ability to filibuster the unionists. He did, however, have an image to protect as a liberal business leader and an immigrant who had made good.

lol

—p.23 In Defiance of Their Master's Voice: Camden, 1929-1950 (12) by Jefferson R. Cowie 3 years ago