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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ongoing struggle for fair wages and working conditions
"Threads" by Jane L. Collins is a fascinating short history and analysis of the rapidly changing apparel industry. Ms. Collins compares and contrasts manufacturing practices in the U.S. and Mexico to understand how labor and power relations have been effected by globalization. Offering important insight and understanding about the dynamics of the international economy,...
Published on December 17, 2006 by Malvin

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars mehh
hated this book. Neglects to look at both sides of the coin. difficult to navigate and find different sections. Mehh
Published 3 months ago by Nicholas Ambeliotis


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ongoing struggle for fair wages and working conditions, December 17, 2006
By 
Malvin (Frederick, MD USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Threads: Gender, Labor, and Power in the Global Apparel Industry (Paperback)
"Threads" by Jane L. Collins is a fascinating short history and analysis of the rapidly changing apparel industry. Ms. Collins compares and contrasts manufacturing practices in the U.S. and Mexico to understand how labor and power relations have been effected by globalization. Offering important insight and understanding about the dynamics of the international economy, Ms. Collins theorizes about how an increasingly stressed workforce might be able to organize across borders and secure a decent living.

Ms. Collins contends that apparel manufacturing has long been a highly contested economic sector due to its low barriers to entry and low levels of concentration. Ms. Collins briefly recounts the history of apparel production and conflict to demonstrate that workplace conditions were improved as a result of struggle. But as information technology has allowed producers to more easily subcontract production work to offshore locations, Ms. Collins finds that manufacturers are increasingly able to exploit localities where inexperienced and predominantly female workers who often possess little understanding of wage labor, yet alone for which multinational corporation they might ultimately be working for, find themselves to be nearly powerless to bargain for better conditions. Countering the notion that such menial and poorly paid work might offer the host nation with a developmental stepping stone to something better, the author convincingly argues that the practice of subcontracting is specifically intended to erode labor power in order to secure profits for investors.

Ms. Collins' ethnographic study of manufacturing plants in the U.S. and Mexico tests both the mass production model and the idea that the production of "fashion goods", or garments of high value that require skilled tailoring, will necessarily remain close to design centers in Los Angeles and New York. Ms. Collins relates the sad story of the demise of Tultex in Martinsville, VA to illustrate how U.S. wage levels for undifferentiated knitwear products could not be sustained in the face of offshore wage pressure and fierce competition with branded merchandisers. Ms. Collins also explains how the Burlmex plant in Mexico successfully blended Taylorist workplace regimens with statistical process controls to produce both an inexpensive and high-quality product that some critics had contended could not be made outside the U.S.

Importantly, Ms. Collins reveals that the source of this intensified wage competition is U.S.-based multinationals. Ms. Collins discusses the strategic importance of the import quota system and how it favors deep-pocketed businesses who can coordinate relationships with multiple suppliers around the world. As fewer big corporations exert control, subcontractors are squeezed to the point where the prevailing wage has become unliveable for the typical worker. But Ms. Collins finds hope in how some women have organized at the community level in the maquiladoras, bridging work and home issues into their struggle for fair wages and working conditions. The author also points to successful international union solidarity and consumer campaigns as evidence that some mechanisms may exist to challenge capital across borders.

I strongly recommend this well-researched and highly readable book to everyone.
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2.0 out of 5 stars mehh, April 3, 2014
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This review is from: Threads: Gender, Labor, and Power in the Global Apparel Industry (Paperback)
hated this book. Neglects to look at both sides of the coin. difficult to navigate and find different sections. Mehh
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Threads: Gender, Labor, and Power in the Global Apparel Industry
Threads: Gender, Labor, and Power in the Global Apparel Industry by Jane Lou Collins (Paperback - September 3, 2003)
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