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Authors

Barry Bluestone

Abstract

[Excerpt] After the organization of the UAW, it could plausibly be argued that the union turned the game around. Indeed, by the late 1950s, the UAW could play one corporation off against another, setting as a strike target a single company while permitting the others to encroach on the market share and profits of the struck company. The strategy worked, and wages and benefits improved steadily.

What changed in the 1970s was the global context. With the unrestricted flow of foreign imports into the country and the ability of domestic manufacturers to move production or parts supply offshore, the number of blue-card corporations in the auto game increased to include European and Japanese producers. But, more importantly, the number of white-card workers exploded by several million. European and Japanese autoworkers—and later South Korean and Mexican—entered the game but not as members of the UAW. The balance of power between blue and white cardholders shifted back toward the blues.

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