Capital Moves: RCA's Seventy-year Quest for Cheap Labor

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Cornell University Press, 1999 - Business & Economics - 273 pages
7 Reviews
Find a pool of cheap, pliable workers and give them jobs—and soon they cease to be as cheap or as pliable. What is an employer to do then? Why, find another poor community desperate for work. This route—one taken time and again by major American manufacturers—is vividly chronicled in this fascinating account of RCA's half century-long search for desirable sources of labor. Capital Moves introduces us to the people most affected by the migration of industry and, most importantly, recounts how they came to fight against the idea that they were simply "cheap labor."Jefferson Cowie tells the dramatic story of four communities, each irrevocably transformed by the opening of an industrial plant. From the manufacturer's first factory in Camden, New Jersey, where it employed large numbers of southern and eastern European immigrants, RCA moved to rural Indiana in 1940, hiring Americans of Scotch-Irish descent for its plant in Bloomington. Then, in the volatile 1960s, the company relocated to Memphis where African Americans made up the core of the labor pool. Finally, the company landed in northern Mexico in the 1970s—a region rapidly becoming one of the most industrialized on the continent.

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Review: Capital Moves: RCA's Seventy-Year Quest for Cheap Labor

User Review  - Joseph Stieb - Goodreads

In Capital Moves, Jefferson Cowie explains why the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) moved its radio and television factories to four different locations from the 1930's to the 1990's. Cowie shows ... Read full review

Review: Capital Moves: RCA's Seventy-Year Quest for Cheap Labor

User Review  - John Rivera - Goodreads

Good book, good sources, good narrative, but limited utility. If you're looking for an all-encompassing account of globalization or the mobility of capital, this isn't that great of a book. If you're ... Read full review


Camden 19291950
Bloomington 19401968
Memphis 1965 1971
Ciudad Juarez 1964 1978
Bloomington 19691998
Ciudad Juarez 1978 1998
The Distances In Between

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About the author (1999)

Cowie teaches labor history at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University.

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