'There's no damn reason for it--it's just our policy': Labor-management conflict in Martinsburg, West Virginia's textile and garment industries.
Date of Graduation
Beginning in 1890 with the opening of the Middlesex Knitting Company, and the Crawford Woolen Mill in 1891, Martinsburg, West Virginia's textile and garment history had begun. Interest in developing these first factories originated with a local development company who looked for outside investors who could enhance the potential success of the new industries. Investors from Philadelphia, New York, and New Brunswick, New Jersey found Martinsburg to be conducive to their financial ventures. During most of that time the factories became the economic lifeline of the small city. Despite early successes by investors, the factories suffered during the late teens and again during the Depression. This period also witnessed the emergence of the national labor movement which made significant inroads into Martinsburg's textile and garment mills. The twenty-year period of Martinsburg's labor strife was also the time of the industries' peak. Market demands originally brought profits to the city's factories, thus increasing orders which led to escalating numbers of the labor force. This, in turn, contributed to inevitable conflict between labor and management resulting in a number of strikes from 1933 to 1953. From 1890 until the 1950s, when the industry began to decline, almost everyone who lived in Martinsburg worked in the textile and garment mills. Relying heavily on labor documents, primarily because few company records were available, this dissertation is basically a three-part story beginning with the early development and transition period from 1890 to 1933; the second part focuses on the years from 1934 to 1953 when the city's textile and garment industries peaked and relations between labor and management intensified. The last section deals with the period from 1954 to 1991, when the city's textile and garment industries declined dramatically resulting in the closing of several mills.
Jenrette, Jerra, "'There's no damn reason for it--it's just our policy': Labor-management conflict in Martinsburg, West Virginia's textile and garment industries." (1996). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 9103.