Faculty Research at Morehead State University

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Japan's rising economic prowess in the 1980's and its penetration of the North American automobile marketplace produced a major economic restructuring. Seven Asian automobile assembly plants, along with four Japanese-Big Three joint ventures, and GM's Saturn were built across the industrial heartland of the United States and Canada.' This common experience, accompanied by a transformation in industrial production methods and the reorganization of work defined in terms of Japanese lean production techniques and cooperative labor relations, created a crisis for the Fordist regime of industrial production, its system of labor-management relations, and organized labor. Lean production has also created a crisis for the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) paradigm. The NLRA, the legal foundation for United States and Canadian labor-management relations, carves out a limited right for labor to organize, to negotiate with management over wages, hours, and working conditions, and to take concerted action, but which otherwise gives labor and management a considerable freedom to privately determine the substance of their collectively bargained contracts .



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