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Navigating Life and Work in Old Republic São Paulo$
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Molly C. Ball

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781683401667

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9781683401667.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

The Textile Response

The Textile Response

Labor Exploitation in the Postwar Era

(p.122) 5 The Textile Response
Navigating Life and Work in Old Republic São Paulo

Molly C. Ball

University Press of Florida

This chapter explores the textile industry’s response to wartime shortages, postwar overstocks, and sectoral crises in the mid-1920s. In the prewar era, industrialists became accustomed to government intervention and continuous labor supply. The war fundamentally changed the Paulistano labor composition and the state’s relative protection of the textile sector, but industrialists continued to manipulate labor costs by employing children and women. Budget constraints often prevented the implementation of new machinery, but in contrast to other sectors that adopted rationalization, training, and innovation, textile industrialists lobbied for extreme protection, actively dismissed labor laws, and were at the forefront of labor repression. The Centro dos Industriais de Fiação e Tecelagem de São Paulo formed after the 1917 General Strike demonstrates this preference for repressive labor tactics that included blacklists and even disappearing problematic workers. A case study of the Jafet textile factory highlights how these choices negatively impacted workers’ lives. Jafet increasingly employed women for shorter tenures, awarded minimal wage increases to combat the rising cost of living, and relied on blacklists and police intervention. As the company failed to provide schools, training, childcare, and adequate housing, these choices disproportionately impacted women and intensified labor inequities.

Keywords:   textile industry, labor repression, blacklists, rationalization

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