happy autoworkers

Richard Gibson rgibson at pipeline.com
Thu Jul 9 16:59:43 PDT 1998

This is one of many reasons why I think the answer to Michael Yates' question, "Is there hope for the Labor Movement?", which he posed and answered affirmatively in a fine Monthly Review article, is actually no--not for the foreseeable future, if we mean the AFL-CIo led labor movement. Relatively privileged, deeply tied to authoritarian hierarchies (nationalism, boss unionism, sexism, racism) which are structurally butressed by the unions and their daily life experiences, aging, having watched their comrades lose their jobs and done virtually nothing (and gaining a stake in explaining away their relative privilege and their inaction)--this group is not soon going to take the lead for social change. There is some reason to believe they will take action outside their structures if someone else initiates it, and perseveres. The North American industrial workforce holds terrific potential power. I wish I could believe they will soon consciously exercise it. I don't. I think the place for people who want to make social change--those with the privilege to pick their spot--is in schools, having replaced industrail work places as centripetal to North American society.f best r

At 11:11 AM 7/9/98 -0400, you wrote:
>I had a long chat with a guy who does union education, mainly for auto and
>steel, last night. He painted a picture of a very happy workforce, with
>25-year-olds pulling down $75k and senior skilled crafts guys (they are
>almost all guys, aren't they?) making over $100k. This would make the Flint
>strikers look pretty anomalous. But he argued that GM's failure to downsize
>aggressively in the early 1980s was a missed opportunity - had they done
>something like Ford, which cut its workforce nearly in half in 18 months,
>and then cut in the UAW as a junior partner in jointness - they'd be in
>much better shape today.
>Any thoughts on this?
Rich Gibson Director of International Social Studies Wayne State University College of Education Detroit MI 48202

http://www.pipeline.com/~rgibson/index.html http://www.pipeline.com/~rgibson/meap.html

Life travels upward in spirals.

Those who take pains to search the shadows

of the past below us, then, can better judge the

tiny arc up which they climb,

more surely guess the dim

curves of the future above them.

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