Today, in the final decade of the 20th century, the condition of labour in the United States is in a more precarious position than at any time during this century. During the past several decades, workers have experienced major transformations in the labour force structure and the labour process at the point of production, through corporate restructuring and reorganisation, while real wages have declined. At the same time, an enormous increase in corporate profits, takeovers, mergers and acquisitions during the decade of the 1980s has widened the gap between labour and capital. All these factors have increased the control and exploitation of labour at the point of production, which is the hallmark of the labour process under capitalism. Focusing on work relations in the auto, steel and computer industries, agriculture and other sectors of the US economy, "The Labor Process and Control of Labor" provides case studies of the labour process in the United States in the late 20th century.
The authors of the ten chapters that comprise this book address some of the key issues confronting workers today: plant closings, decline in union membership, drop in living standards, automation and deskilling, level of class consciousness and political organisation, and the role of unions and other mediating forces in the formation and transformation of labour and the labour process. One chapter is devoted to the US auto industry and how its pioneering minute division of labour affected the power of the labour force; another focuses on how the steel industry further facilitated labour control. Other chapters deal with the computer industry, women's labour power, immigrant labour in California, agriculture and various other labour issues related to the control and exploitation of labour. This volume is an important new work for scholars of labour studies, sociology of work and occupations, industrial sociology and related fields.