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Standing up to a Multinational Giant: The Saint-Gobain World Council and the American Window Glass Workers' Strike in the American Saint Gobain Corporation in 1969
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Cultural Sciences.
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In the 1960s, a large number of World Councils were founded in a number of industrial branches. One of the most recognized World Councils was established in the multinational glass manufacturer Compagnie de Saint-Gobain in 1969, in connection to an international trade union action against the company. The purpose of this study is to investigate and understand the origin and character of this World Council and international action.

The study places great emphasis on the American participation in the Saint-Gobain World Council and the international action, but explores, in addition, the work and function of the World Council, the international action’s outcome in terms of wages and working conditions, the so-called vertical implementation of the trade union action, i.e. the integration of several trade union-organizational levels in a single action, as well as the wider contexts beyond the purely economic to which the World Council and the action can be linked.

An essential point of departure is retrieved from the historical materialist tradition in order to understand the conflicts of interests and the ability to realize interests on the labor market, in the production, and within politics. An in-depth discussion on the structuring of overt conflicts and international trade union actions is undertaken based on four specific theories that are based on the assumption that trade unions and employers are rational actors.

The survey consists of three main parts. The first empirical section identifies the action itself—its parties, origins, course of events, and aftermath. The second empirical section interprets the parties’ perspectives and interests in the long run. The third, and final empirical section examines the structural conditions in the United States for conflictual sentiments and international action.

The study provides new perspectives on the structural background to the American union’s mobilization and international strategies. It also helps to explain why the World Councils were short-lived and, in the end, did not meet the high expectations placed on them. At the same time, the study displays the main achievements and shortcomings of the international campaign against Saint-Gobain and the postwar political context to which the action can be linked.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Växjö: Linnaeus University Press, 2011. , 260 p.
Series
Linnaeus University Dissertations, 54/2011
Keyword [en]
World Councils, Compagnie de Saint-Gobain, the American Saint Gobain Corporation, flat glass, sheet glass, window glass, trade union internationalism, Charles Levinson, the International Federation of Chemical and General Workers’ Unions, the United Glass and Ceramic Workers of North America, glassworkers
National Category
History and Archaeology
Research subject
Humanities, History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-27447ISBN: 978-91-86491-87-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-27447DiVA: diva2:635774
Public defence
2011-06-13, Homeros, Hus F, Växjö, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-07-15 Created: 2013-07-05 Last updated: 2014-05-13Bibliographically approved

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Standing up to a Multinational Giant(3148 kB)350 downloads
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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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