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an enlightening detailed take on Toyotism. responding to an article from last issue

Parker, M. (2017). Management-By-Stress. Jacobin, 2, pp. 173-194

174

[...] starting in the 1940s, the US auto industry gave up on the system of “flexible production,” originally installed by Henry Ford, in order to implement a new production system that aimed to defeat the unions and assure management’s dictatorship over the labor process. Flexible production had not ceased to deliver record rates of profit and increases in productivity, but it had become unbearable to the Big Three employers because of the leverage it provided workers. It depended for an important part of its productive efficiency on locating factories close to one another in order to facilitate coordination between them, relied on a single source (“mother plant”) to provide key components for the whole system, and employed just-in-time methods of delivering inventories, all of which made for pressure points that workers could attack in order to disrupt production.

The new system of “dispersed production,” according to Murray and Schwartz, sought to shift the balance of power by depriving workers of precisely these pressure points, opening the way for managers to step up class struggle to intensify labor and hold down wages. The Big Three accomplished this by dispersing factories over wide geographical areas, building redundant plants that duplicated one another’s output, and dismantling just-in-time delivery. They therefore chose to step up control over the labor process and directly assault workers rather than enhance labor-management collaboration to create a faster-growing “pie” that could simultaneously support higher profits and better compensation to workers.

he challenges their portrayal of the Toyotism alternative as "collaborative" later on (he says it's really more about extracting more surplus value) but this is a useful summary

—p.174 by Mike Parker 1 year, 3 months ago

[...] starting in the 1940s, the US auto industry gave up on the system of “flexible production,” originally installed by Henry Ford, in order to implement a new production system that aimed to defeat the unions and assure management’s dictatorship over the labor process. Flexible production had not ceased to deliver record rates of profit and increases in productivity, but it had become unbearable to the Big Three employers because of the leverage it provided workers. It depended for an important part of its productive efficiency on locating factories close to one another in order to facilitate coordination between them, relied on a single source (“mother plant”) to provide key components for the whole system, and employed just-in-time methods of delivering inventories, all of which made for pressure points that workers could attack in order to disrupt production.

The new system of “dispersed production,” according to Murray and Schwartz, sought to shift the balance of power by depriving workers of precisely these pressure points, opening the way for managers to step up class struggle to intensify labor and hold down wages. The Big Three accomplished this by dispersing factories over wide geographical areas, building redundant plants that duplicated one another’s output, and dismantling just-in-time delivery. They therefore chose to step up control over the labor process and directly assault workers rather than enhance labor-management collaboration to create a faster-growing “pie” that could simultaneously support higher profits and better compensation to workers.

he challenges their portrayal of the Toyotism alternative as "collaborative" later on (he says it's really more about extracting more surplus value) but this is a useful summary

—p.174 by Mike Parker 1 year, 3 months ago
193

[...] Management has long understood that using the iron fist is best only as a last resort. It is far cheaper to try to induce workers to cooperate through manipulating their fears and dreams. This is done through programs to foster identification with the company, as against other companies and the world; programs to reward individual contributions (even if they result in others losing their jobs); fostering competition between workers; and keeping open hopes for advancement. In order to fight unionization and maintain workforce stability, the model flexible plants do pay near the top of the industry scale, which is usually more than the average wage in the surrounding area because the companies locate in lowwage areas. But these plants also rely on speed-ups, outsourcing, automation, and extensive use of temporary workers to limit the total number of their higher-paid workers and keep up hopes among the lower-paid workers that they will be selected to move into the higher-paid group.

—p.193 by Mike Parker 1 year, 3 months ago

[...] Management has long understood that using the iron fist is best only as a last resort. It is far cheaper to try to induce workers to cooperate through manipulating their fears and dreams. This is done through programs to foster identification with the company, as against other companies and the world; programs to reward individual contributions (even if they result in others losing their jobs); fostering competition between workers; and keeping open hopes for advancement. In order to fight unionization and maintain workforce stability, the model flexible plants do pay near the top of the industry scale, which is usually more than the average wage in the surrounding area because the companies locate in lowwage areas. But these plants also rely on speed-ups, outsourcing, automation, and extensive use of temporary workers to limit the total number of their higher-paid workers and keep up hopes among the lower-paid workers that they will be selected to move into the higher-paid group.

—p.193 by Mike Parker 1 year, 3 months ago