North American Auto Unions in Crisis

Lean Production as Contested Terrain

Edited by William C. Green & Ernest J. Yanarella

Subjects: Industrial Sociology
Series: SUNY series in the Sociology of Work and Organizations
Paperback : 9780791428245, 246 pages, February 1996
Hardcover : 9780791428238, 246 pages, February 1996

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents



Introduction: Building Other People's Cars: Organized Labor and the Crisis of Fordism
Ernest J. Yanarella and William C. Green

Theoretical, Legal, and Strategic Challenges for Organized Labor
Lean Production, Labor Control, and Post-Fordism in the Japanese Automobile Industry
Carl H. A. Dassbach
The UAW and CAW Under the Shadow of Post-Fordism: A Tale of Two Unions
Ernest J. Yanarella

Four Case Studies
The Myth of Egalitarianism: Worker Response to Post-Fordism at Subaru-Isuzu
Laurie Graham
UAW, Lean Production, and Labor-Management Relations at AutoAlliance
Steve Babson
CAW, Worker Commitment, and Labor-Management Relations Under Lean Production at CAMI
James Rinehart, David Robertson, Christopher Huxley, and the CAW Research Team on CAMI
Worker Training at Toyota and Saturn: Hegemony Begins in the Training Center Classroom
Ernest J. Yanarella

The Role of Organized Labor
The Transformation of the NLRA Paradigm: The Future of Labor-Management Relations in Post-Fordist Auto Plants
William C. Green
New Dimensions for Labor in a Post-Fordist World
Donald M. Wells

Bibliographic References

This edited volume provides the first comparative cross-national study of U.S. and Canadian Labor relations in Japanese North American auto transplants, Japanese joint ventures with the Big Three automakers, and Saturn, the Japanese-style GM auto plant.


In this edited volume, U. S. and Canadian political scientists, sociologists, and labor educators contribute to the debate of the crisis of the Fordist regime of mass production and its implications for organized labor. They present the first comparative cross-national study of the labor relations in Japanese North American automobile transplants, Japanese joint ventures with the Big Three automakers, and Japanese-style General Motors auto plants. They specifically focus on the challenges the Japanese lean production model has posed to North American auto labor's organizing, collective bargaining, and shop floor representation experiences and how the United Auto Workers and the Canadian Auto Workers have responded to these challenges. The authors point to the pressing need for the North American labor movement, whose legal rights are rooted in a mass production regime, to rethink its interests and goals if it is to successfully confront the formidable obstacles presented by a changing international and hemispheric political economy increasingly dominated by Japanese lean production practices.

William C. Green is Professor of Government at Morehead State University. He is coeditor (with Ernest J. Yanarella) of The Unfulfilled Promise of Synthetic Fuels: Technological Failure, Policy Immobilism, or Commercial Illusion and The Politics of Industrial Recruitment: Japanese Automobile Investment and Economic Development in the American States. Ernest J. Yanarella is Professor of Political Science and Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Kentucky. He is author of The Missile Defense Controversy: Strategy, Technology, and Politics, 1955-1972; co-author (with Ann-Marie Yanarella) of Energy and the Social Sciences: A Bibliographical Guide to the Literature; and co-editor (with Randal H. Ihara) of The Acid Rain Debate: Scientific, Economic, and Political Dimensions; and (with Lee Sigelman) of Political Mythology and Popular Fiction.


"I like the sustained and well-documented critique of the pro-management perspective of advocates of 'lean production' and Japanese management; the use of solid evidence such as worker surveys and participant observation; the theoretical unity around the ideas of Gramsci on cultural hegemony and the contradictions of mature capitalism; and the comparison with Canadian unions and politics. " -- Susan B. Hansen, University of Pittsburgh