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Wayne State University Press

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Confronting Change

Auto Labor and Lean Production in North America

edited by Huberto Juarez Nunez and Steve Babson

By WSU Faculty

Published: September 1998
ISBN: 9780814328194
Pages: 450 Size: 6x9
Published: September 1998
ISBN: 9789688632987
Pages: 450 Size: 6 x 9

This book is a must-read for those concerned with where the automobile industry is headed in North America.

— Harley Shaiken

Autoworkers find themselves in a rapidly changing world as transnational corporations seek new forms of work organization and new boundaries for a North American auto industry. Inside the factory, management pursues new models of "lean production" that require workers to produce more with less—less time, less support, less material—in an atmosphere of accelerated and intensified labor. Outside the factory, "freetrade" policies and regional investment strategies widen the reach of transnational corporations, creating new opportunities in Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. for pitting worker against worker in a mutually destructive competition for jobs. In Confronting Change, researchers from a diverse range of universities and unions explore the impact of these changes on work and workers. The case studies and analyses show the wide range of potential outcomes as workers struggle to become actors, rather than victims, in the emerging North American auto industry.

Steve Babson is a labor program specialist at Wayne State University's Labor Studies Center. He is the editor of Lean Work: Empowerment and Exploitation in the Global Auto Industry (Wayne State University Press, 1995).Huberto Juárez Núñez is a member of the economics faculty at the Autonomous University of Puebla.

This book provides a path-breaking analysis of the forces reshaping the global automobile industry in general and the continental industry in particular. It combines first-rate scholarship about lean production in Canada, the United States, and Mexico with an original, important perspective about the alternatives available. The comparative focus the book presents could redefine thinking and future research in this area. This book is a must-read for those concerned with where the automobile industry is headed in North America.

– Harley Shaiken, University of California, Berkeley