Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2021-01-05

"Just Business": 1970s Management Paternalism and Failed Service Sector Unionization

Document type Article
Author Russell, Jason
Journal Labour / Le Travail
Volume 72
Date 2013 Fall
ISSN 0700-3862
Pages 129-148


The article discusses the role of management in unionization avoidance in North America during the 1970s, with a particular focus on the hardware distributor Hobbs Hardware. Particular focus is given to the material circumstances of employment at the firm, with evidence drawn from oral history interviews from former employees Steve Ashton, Ed Perkins, and Doug Perkins. According to the author, the firm's management had a firm self-identity based on gender which was ideologically-driven and demonstrated a need for absolute control of the workplace. Topics discussed include neoliberalism, paternalism, and the low-wage service sector.