Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Labor and structural change: Shop -floor organization and militancy in Argentine industrial factories (1943–1983)
by Basualdo, Victoria, Ph.D., Columbia University, 2010, 472; 3400627
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation analyzes the main features and transformations of industrial workers' organization and militancy in Argentina from the 1940s to the 1980s, which was a period of profound economic and social transformations. Combining a structural approach with a study of workers' experience, it focuses on a key aspect of the Argentine labor movement that, in spite of its importance, has not been adequately examined in the existing historiography: the high degree of union structure penetration at the shop-floor level through means of shop-stewards and comisiones internas (CI). This dissertation provides a first long-term interpretation of the main tendencies in the history of these institutions of labor representation, which were, in their moment of their establishment in the 1940s, a novelty in most Latin American countries and beyond. Additionally, this dissertation analyzes the evolution of shop-floor militancy and organization in two case-studies of large-scale industrial enterprises: Acindar, a steel mill in Villa Constitución (Santa Fe province), and Alpargatas, a textile company with factories in Barracas (city of Buenos Aires) and Florencio Varela (Province of Buenos Aires). The dissertation demonstrates that although shop-stewards and CI had different functions in different periods and cases, they ensured important benefits not only to workers but also to unions. They increased labor organizations' efficiency to protect economic and social rights at the workplace, creating a permanent link between trade union organizations and the rank-and-file. It also argues that the existence of this tradition of shop-floor organization was a fundamental factor in making the Argentine labor movement one of the strongest and most active in Latin America from the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s, the golden era of import-substituting industrialization in Argentina. Simultaneously, the severe repression against these instances of shop-floor organization in the mid-1970s, when a military dictatorship seized power, marked a critical turn in the history of the working class. From 1976 to 1983 the armed forces placed labor activity under military supervision and developed strong repression, introducing at the same time substantial changes in economic policy that promoted rapid deindustrialization and a radical transformation of the overall economic and social structure. As a result, the industrial working class and the labor movement, which had been so powerful in previous decades, became increasingly disarticulated and lost presence and economic, political and social power.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Piccato, Pablo
School: Columbia University
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Latin American history, Labor relations
Keywords: Argentina, Contemporary history, Factories, Labor, Latin American history, Militancy, Shop-floor organization
Publication Number: 3400627
ISBN: 9781109673135
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