Worker Adjustment/Plant Closings/Structural Unemployment

This section contains one of the best and most complete collections of materials on worker dislocation and plant closings resulting from structural changes in the American economy during the late 1970s and 1980s. It could be of inestimable value to scholars and researchers and anyone wanting to know about worker adjustment programs or large-scale worker displacement and its impact on individuals and communities and learn how public policy to deal with these issues in America has been fashioned during the past quarter century, especially as the country continues to deal with these same problems today and will in the future. I accumulated this extensive collection of materials about worker dislocation and plant closings through my active participation in regional and national responses to formulate adjustment policies and programs to address the problems.

Beginning in the late 1970s, faculty members and graduate students at Utah State University were among the first to conduct research and demonstrate how dislocated workers and plant closings affected workers and communities in the mining and sugar refining industries in Utah and neighboring states. In the early 1980s, worker dislocation resulting from mass layoffs and plant closings became a national concern in America and elicited a number of private and public responses. Subsequently, research on plant closings and worker dislocation expanded throughout the entire country and eventually led to the passage of national legislation: the Economic Dislocation and Worker Adjustment Assistance Act (EDWAAA). In early 1983, I was asked by the Ford Motor Company and the United Auto Workers Union to document the closing of the San Jose Assembly Plant in California and the Sheffield Aluminum Casting Plant in Alabama. The adjustment assistance and training programs they provided to displaced Ford workers at these two plants was among the most effective and successful carried out in the United States and served as a model of how this process should be done. The documents and materials collected and reports resulting from these projects are in this section.

In 1985, I served on the U.S. Secretary of Labor's Task Force to study worker dislocation in America and to recommend what should be done to address and ameliorate this problem. After a year of work, the Task Force completed its deliberations and submitted its report. The recommendations of the Task Force were subsequently incorporated into the EDWAAA legislation passed by Congress in 1988 and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. All of the documents, materials and papers that were part of my work on this task force are included in this section.


  1. A once in a lifetime experience came about as a result of being asked to document the UAW-Ford closure of the San Jose Assembly Plant in 1983. Documenting this closure led to a number of publications and other subsequent opportunities in this field. Having a quotation by me printed on the center of the front page of the October 11, 1983, issue of the nation’s premier business newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, rates a significant place in the pantheon of my professional career.
  2. I wrote an article about the UAW-Ford San Jose Plant Closing experience, “Ford and the UAW Have a Better Idea: A Joint Labor-Management Approach to Plant Closing and Worker Retraining,” that was published in the Annals of the American Academy in September 1984. This article was reprinted and widely circulated by the UAW-Ford National Training Center beginning in November 1984.
  3. Another article, “Innovative Approach to plant closing: The UAW-Ford Experience in San Jose,” was published in the June 1985 issue of the Monthly Labor Review, the publication of the USDOL. This provided further national visibility to the work we had done in documenting this path-breaking effort.
  4. Economic Adjustment and Worker Dislocation in a Competitive Society: Report of the Secretary of Labor’s Task Force on Economic Adjustment and Worker Dislocation. Washington, D.C., December 1986. (Member of the Task Force and its drafting committee)
  5. Preventing Layoffs. First published as an article in the Employee Relations Law Journal in December 1985, it was reprinted as a pamphlet by the Labor-Management Relations Division in the USDOL in 1986. It became the most widely disseminated publication in that unit up until this time, and was reprinted in 1988 because of its popularity.
  6. A “Scenario for a State Dislocated Worker Readjustment System,” Prepared for The Manpower Administration, USDOL, November 10, 1986. This unpublished 18 page document, financed by the USDOL, provided me with an opportunity, while serving on the Secretary of Labor’s Task Force, to spell out for the task force and USDOL in a practical way what I thought the American national system of helping displaced workers should look like.
  7. A Guide to Worker Displacement: Some tools for reducing the impact on workers, communities and enterprises. In 2000, I was asked by the ILO to write a guide to worker displacement. This project was undertaken in part as a response of the ILO to the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, as well as the economic transition problems being experienced in Russia and other remnants of the old Soviet Union that had resulted in widespread worker displacement and rising unemployment. This 51 page guide incorporated much of what I had learned over the previous 30 years working with displaced workers, communities and enterprises in America and in Central and Eastern Europe. The guide was not completed until 2001 or published until 2002, although it was translated into Russian and introduced at an ILO workshop held in St. Petersburg in December 2001. It was published in English, French and Spanish. The severe unemployment caused by the worldwide economic crisis of 2008 led the ILO to publish and immediately circulate, via the Internet and in printed form, a longer, updated edition of this guide in March 2009.
  8. Shutdown: A Case Study of Displaced Rural Workers. Center for Productivity and Quality of Working Life, Utah State University: Logan, Utah, October 1978, 45 pp. (With M. T. Bentley and T. G. Fritts)
  9. Problems and Solutions in a Plant Shutdown: A Handbook for a Community Action Team. Utah State University Business & Economic Development Services: Logan, Utah, February 1979. 30 pp. (With M.T. Bentley and C.D. Jorgensen.)
  10. Hardrock Miners in a Shutdown: A Case Study in the Post-Layoff Experiences of Displaced Lead-Zinc-Silver Miners. Economic Research Institute and Center for Productivity and Quality of Working Life: Logan, Utah, Utah State University, May 1980. 116 pp. (With M. T. Bentley and R. Davidson.)
  11. Plant Shutdowns, People, and Communities: A Selected Bibliography. Utah Center for Productivity and Quality of Working Life, Utah State Univ., Logan, Utah, February 1981. 81 pp. (With M. T. Bentley and M. Skidmore.)
  12. A Selective Annotated Bibliography on Plant Shutdowns and Related Topics. Utah Center for Productivity and Quality of Working Life: Logan, Utah, Utah State University, February 1981. 46 pp. (With M.T. Bentley, R. Pond and M. Skidmore.)
  13. Life After Layoff: A Handbook for Workers in a Plant Shutdown. Utah Center for Productivity and Quality of Working Life: Logan, Utah, Utah State University, February 1981. 166 pp. (With M.T. Bentley, J.H. Gould, and M. Skidmore.)
  14. Getting a New Job. Utah Center for Productivity and Quality of Working Life. Logan: Utah State University, February 1981.
  15. Problems and Solutions in a Plant Shutdown: A Handbook for Community Involvement. Utah Center for Productivity and Quality of Working Life: Logan, Utah, Utah State University, August 1981, and November 1981. 386 pp. (With M.T. Bentley.)
  16. Mobilizing Community Resources to Cope with Plant Shutdowns: A Demonstration Project--Final Report. Logan, Utah: Business and Economic Development Services, Utah State University. November 1981. 225 pp.
  17. “Research findings on worker and community adjustment to plant shutdowns: Three case studies.” Paper presented at the National Alliance of Business Conference in Detroit MI, June 20-22, 1982.
  18. Preventing Layoffs: Some Components of an Effective Job Security and Economic Adjustment Program. Utah Center for Productivity and Quality of Working Life, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, October 1984, 30 pp.
  19. The San Jose Assembly Plant: UAW-Ford Approaches to Retraining and Job Assistance for Dislocated Workers. Center Report 4, UAW-Ford National Development and Training Center, Dearborn, Michigan, November 1984. 17 pp. (Reprint of Annals article.)
  20. "Discussion: EDTP" (An Assessment of the UAW-Ford Joint Approach to the Training and Retraining of Workers), Proceedings of the Annual Spring Meeting, Industrial Relations Research Association, Detroit, Michigan, April 17-19, l985, pp. 548-553.
  21. "Services to Workers Facing Plant Shutdowns: California and Canada," International Journal of Manpower, Volume 7 No. l, 1986, pp. 35-52.
  22. “Toward improved economic competitiveness and employment security: A modest proposal.” Final Report: Subcommittee on Public Policy Responses, Secretary of Labor’s Task Force on Economic Adjustment and Worker Dislocation. October 20, 1986. 16 pp. Chair of Subcommittee.
  23. "American Labor and International Trade: Adjustment Strategies to Assist Workers Displaced in Plant Closings and Permanent Layoffs," Economia & Lavoro, Vol XXI No. 1, January-March 1987, (Published in Rome, Italy) pp. 115-122.
  24. “A Follow-up Survey of Workers Displaced by the Workers of the Ford San Jose Plant Closure.” Paper presented at the 40th IRRA Annual Meetings, Chicago, Ill., December 28, 1987.
  25. "The American Approach to Layoffs, Plant Closings and Structural Change," in Structural Change and Labour Market Policy: An ALC Conference at Var Gard, June 6-9, 1988. Conference Proceedings, Theme II--Vol I. Stockholm: The Swedish Center for Working Life, 1988.
  26. "Layoffs, Plant Closings, and Worker Displacement in America: A Serious Problem That Needs a National Solution," Journal of Social Issues, Vol 44, No. 4 (1988), pp. l53-171.
  27. One of the essential parts of the USDOL Adjustment Model that was implemented in Central and Eastern Europe during the 1990s included a Rapid Response Worker Adjustment component (RRWA). With the assistance of several other people, I wrote a guide for this component. This is the final version of the RRWA guide prepared under the USAID/CEE Regional Project, which was completed in 2003.