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Confronting DeclineThe Political Economy of Deindustrialization in Twentieth-Century New England$
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David Koistinen

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780813049076

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813049076.001.0001

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(p.26) Chapter 2 Retrenchment
Confronting Decline

David Koistinen

University Press of Florida

One response to deindustrialization in New England was a campaign by corporate interests to roll back social legislation and cut business taxes and government spending. The effort is known here as “retrenchment.” Retrenchment advocates argued that cutbacks were necessary to enhance the competitiveness of textiles and other troubled New England industries. The chapter focuses on events in Massachusetts in the 1920s and 30s. It closely examines business associations’ drive to ease the state’s hours of work laws for women in manufacturing. The chapter also considers the campaign by Massachusetts business interests to reduce government spending and corporate taxes. The business push for retrenchment in post–World War I Massachusetts had mixed results. Due to concerted resistance from unions and reformers, the state’s labor laws and other social protections were unchanged or even strengthened. However, business groups eventually secured substantial reductions in corporate taxes.

Keywords:   social legislation, hours of work laws, social reformers, unions, business associations, business taxation, government spending

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