The Fabric of Labor: A Study of Labor History Through the Upstate New York Textile Industry, 1950 – 1968
Date of Award
Undergraduate Honors Thesis
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Christopher Pastore, Ph.D.
Carl Bon Tempo, Ph.D.
This paper explores three textile mills in upstate New York in the post-WWII years, and specifically the relationships between mill hands, management, and the national Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA). While historians have studied textile mills and labor relations in the twentieth-century South, they have paid little attention to their northern counterparts during that era. This paper, conversely, writes northern mill workers into the larger scholarly conversation about twentieth-century union decline. It shows that union campaigns often failed due largely to the cunning, if not deceptive, maneuvers of management. Drawing on union records, contemporary local newspapers, and census data, I argue that management effectively kept unions at bay not through belligerence, but rather via more subtle strategies that combined coercion, the exploitation of anti-union thinking in rural culture, and the creation of management-controlled company unions. A more aggressive stance, management learned, only galvanized workers and encouraged them to side with the national union. Thus, company bosses took a more sophisticated approach to defeating union organizing drives.
Parillo, Anthony, "The Fabric of Labor: A Study of Labor History Through the Upstate New York Textile Industry, 1950 – 1968" (2021). History Honors Program. 27.