Edited by Robert Asher & Ronald Edsforth
Assisted by Stephen Merlino

Subjects: Economic History
Series: SUNY series in American Labor History
Paperback : 9780791424100, 307 pages, May 1995
Hardcover : 9780791424094, 307 pages, May 1995

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Table of contents


1. A Half Century of Struggle: Auto Workers Fighting for Justice
Robert Asher and Ronald Edsforth

2. Building for Mass Production: Factory Design and Work Process at the Ford Motor Company
Lindy Biggs

3. The Speedup: The Focal Point of Workers' Grievances,1919–1941
Ronald Edsforth and Robert Asher, with the assistance of Raymond Boryczka

4. Auto Workers at War: Patriotism and Protest in the American Automobile Industry, 1939-1945
Kevin Boyle

5. The 1949 Ford Speedup Strike and the Post War Social Compact, 1946-1961
Robert Asher

6. Why Automation Didn't Shorten the Work Week: The Politics of Work Time in the Automobile Industry
Ronald Edsforth

7. Auto Workers, Dissent, and the UAW: Detroit and Lordstown
Heather Ann Thompson

8. Sabotage in an Automobile Assembly Plant: Worker Voice on the Shopfloor
Craig A. Zabala

9. Restructuring the Workplace: Post-Fordism or Returnof the Foreman?
Steve Babson




An anthology of original essays on the history of work experience in automobile factories, from 1913 to the present.


Autowork focuses on the character of automobile work in the modern factory and the relationships between autoworkers, their union, and management from 1913 to the present. Two-thirds of the essays are devoted to the post-World War II period, which historians have not examined as extensively as the early years of the automobile industry.

In these original essays, the experiences of assembly-line workers come alive as never before. Using transcripts of government hearings, minutes of negotiations, records of arbitration proceedings, and articles in union newspapers, the authors present autoworkers' and union officials' descriptions of working conditions and the effect these conditions had on their health and home life. The essays analyze the dynamics of collective bargaining on important shop-floor issues such as safety, work pace, overtime, job assignments, and managerial discipline. Autowork demonstrates that many historians have underestimated the militancy and effectiveness of the United Automobile Workers of America.

Robert Asher is Professor of History at the University of Connecticut. He is the coeditor of Life and Labor: Dimensions of American Working-Class History and Labor Divided: Race and Ethnicity in United States Labor Struggles, 1835-1960, both published by SUNY Press, and coeditor of the SUNY Series in American Labor History. Ronald Edsforth teaches in the History Department at Dartmouth College. He is the author of Class Conflict and Cultural Consensus: The Making of a Mass Consumer Society in Flint, Michigan; coeditor of Popular Culture and Political Change in Modern America, published by SUNY Press; and coeditor of the SUNY Series in Popular Culture and Political Change.


"This is an absolutely marvelous anthology surveying and analyzing the rich history and changing character of autowork in twentieth-century America. It is one of the few books that analyzes the auto industry and its workforce from its origins to the present. " -- Stephen Meyer, author of The Five Dollar Day: Labor Management and Social Control in the Ford Motor Company 1908-1921