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Metal Fatigue: American Bosch and the Demise of Metalworking in the Connecticut River Valley
Robert Forrant
Work, Health and Environment Series, Series Editors, Charles Levenstein, Robert Forrant, and John Wooding

Read the Forward, by John Wooding here.

"Easily one of the lucid and accessible books ever written on the local cost of globalization. Robert Forrant, a former machinist-turned-academic, recounts in living but tragic detail the impact of the loss of skilled industrial jobs on individuals, families, and an entire region. His important book is a must read for scholars who are interested in the link between local communities and the wider economic world, for policy makers who need to know what not to do, and for anyone else who cares about economic fairness and political democracy in a world stacked against both."
—Bruce Laurie, Prof. Emeritus University of Massachusetts Amherst

"Springfield Massachusetts, and the surrounding Connecticut River valley, was once at the epicenter of the American industrial revolution. Globalization and creative destruction have taken a fierce toll on the city and region's economic and social structure. Companies big and small changed hands, were downsized, and finally closed. Robert Forrant has written an insider's book about all of this that is absolutely riveting. He writes about the decline of Springfield through his experience as a worker and union official of American Bosch, the enormous metalworking plant that closed its doors in 1986. As a historian, he discusses the valley's demise in a book that is analytical and personal; historical and biographical. He weaves his knowledge of the forces buffeting Springfield with his knowledge of the people who lived, worked, and lost their jobs there. The compelling book should be read by historians, by urban and regional planners, and by anyone who mourns the disappearance of our industrial base."
—Professor Robert Nakosteen, University of Massachusetts Amherst Isenberg School of Management

On February 4, 1986, the lives of thousands of workers changed in ways they could only begin to imagine. On that day, United Technologies Corporation ordered the closure of the 76-year-old American Bosch manufacturing plant in Springfield, Massachusetts, capping a nearly 32-year history of job loss and work relocation from the sprawling factory. The author, a former Bosch worker and the business agent for the union representing nearly 1,200 Bosch employees when the plant closed, interjects his personal recollections into the story.
For more than 150 years Springfield stood at the center of a prosperous 200-mile industrial corridor along the Connecticut River, between Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Springfield, Vermont, populated with hundreds of machine tool and metalworking plants and thousands of workers. This book is a historical account of the profound economic collapse of the Connecticut River Valley region, with a particular focus on Bosch, its workers, and its union. The shutdown is placed in the context of the wider region's deindustrialization. The closure marked the watershed for large-firm metalworking and metalworking unions in the Connecticut River Valley. The book also describes how the United States, in a ten-year period from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, went from being the world's leading exporter of machine tools to its leading importer, and how that sharp decline affected the region's leading city, Springfield, Massachusetts, which by 2005 was in danger of bankruptcy.

Intended Audience: Labor historians, industrial historians, geographers, regional development practitioners, trade union leaders, and community development practitioners; courses in labor and community history, university-level classes in industrial history, labor history, economic history, and community and regional development.

Robert Forrant received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is a professor in the University of Massachusetts Lowell graduate program in regional economic and social development. He has consulted on industrial development issues with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the International Labour Organization, the International Metalworkers Federation, and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Before becoming a professor, he was a metalworker for several years and directed a community economic development project in Springfield, Massachusetts. He serves as a regional economy analyst for the journal Massachusetts Benchmarks, a joint publication of the University of Massachusetts president's office and the New England Federal Reserve Bank, and has published numerous academic articles and popular studies on the Connecticut River Valley and Massachusetts economies. Dr. Forrant is coeditor of three books on community-university partnerships, and he writes and comments extensively on housing and community development issues for local newspapers and radio stations. His scholarly articles have appeared in several academic journals, including Cambridge Journal of Economics, International Review of Social History, Regional Studies, Journal of Industrial History, Industrial Relations Journal, and European Planning Studies. He is on the editorial board of the journal Labor History.

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Metal Fatigue: American Bosch and the Demise of Metalworking in the Connecticut River Valley

Author: Robert Forrant
Paper ISBN:
ePub ISBN:
Page Count: 216
Copyright: 2009

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