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Labor Research Review, Volume 1, Number 05 (1984)

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Labor Research Review, Volume 1, Number 5 (1984)

Fighting Shutdowns


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    Film Review: The Last Pullman Car
    Pasnick, Ray (1984-06-01)
    [Excerpt] The Last Pullman Car is the latest film produced by Kartemquin Films, a Chicago-based group of award-winning documentary filmmakers led by Gordon Quinn and Jerry Blumenthal. The film chronicles the plight of members of United Steelworkers Local 1834 in trying to save their jobs after it had become evident that the Pullman-Standard Company was getting out of the passenger railcar business for good.
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    Film Review: The Business of America
    Feinglass, Joe (1984-06-01)
    [Excerpt] In the Business of America, the filmakers-at California Newsreel have once again demonstrated their ability to produce lively and substantive documentary on economic issues. In the late 1970s, they produced Controlling Interest, perhaps the most incisive film analysis of multinational corporations ever made. The Business of America turns out to be a worthy sequel.
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    Book Review: Steelworkers Rank and File
    Hirsch, Mike (1984-06-01)
    [Excerpt] Phil Nyden has established a reputation as a scholar with a deep personal commitment to the prospects of a genuine, grass-roots-based militant unionism. With a sensitivity too rare among outside observers, Nyden tries to draw lessons based on the actual experiences of the rank-and-file, in terms of how they understand their situation and the strategies they develop. While this book is not without its problems, it represents must reading for union activists as well as labor educators, researchers and friends of the labor movement.
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    Book Review: Concessions - and how to beat them
    Metzgar, Jack (1984-06-01)
    [Excerpt] As the title of her book indicates, Jane Slaughter is not afraid to be didactic. This valuable handbook, written for secondary leaders and rank-and-file activists, not only provides a history and sum-up of the concessions experience through the Spring of 1983. It articulates a set of principles and strategies for "how to beat them."
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    Compa, Lance; Baicich, Paul J. (1984-06-01)
    [Excerpt] Most of Randy Barber and Andrew R. Banks' response to our analysis of the "District 100 model" exaggerates our arguments, then goes on to attack the exaggerated versions.
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    Up Against More Gloom and Doom
    Barber, Randy; Banks, Andrew R. (1984-06-01)
    [Excerpt] The signing on December 7, 1983, of the financial-relief-and-worker-role-in-management agreement at Eastern Air Lines marked the culmination of a four-year effort by IAM District 100 to respond effectively to Eastern management and to an abruptly changing environment in the airline industry. It was also the beginning of a new phase. Beset by a hostile management, the devastating effects of airline deregulation, a deep recession, and the general anti-union climate in the country, the leadership of IAM District 100 felt it had forged a way out of a vicious and debilitating cycle. The basic principles for this way out—or "model" if you will—included: exhaustive research on the actual conditions and operations of the company; an aggressive policy of taking the initiative rather than waiting to react; an insistence on reciprocal and equitable efforts and sacrifices; and the demand for a real augmentation of the decision-making role of workers and their union in the operations of the company.
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    Model Struggle, Yes. Model Contract, No.
    Compa, Lance; Baicich, Paul J. (1984-06-01)
    [Excerpt] As the largest airline union and one with a tradition of hard-nosed bargaining, the IAM and the role of its District 100 at Eastern have become the focus of discussion in and out of the labor movement. Political observers from Left to Right have hailed the Eastern settlement. The IAM District 100-Eastern settlement cannot be all things to all people. While the agreement contains many positive features, we are skeptical of claims that it constitutes a "model" for the labor movement to emulate in other concession bargaining situations. Our criticisms are grounded, however, in partisan pro-labor beliefs and in an appreciation for the struggle and sacrifices made by the leaders and rank and file of IAM District 100.
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    The IAM 100 "Model": A Debate
    Metzgar, Jack (1984-06-01)
    [Excerpt] The last issue of Labor Research Review was devoted to what we called "the IAM District 100 model" for fighting concessions. Six articles over more than 90 pages explained the complex and sophisticated campaign the Machinists waged at Eastern Airlines to win a 32% wage increase and to preserve existing work rules. Three times—in March, June and October of 1983—District 100 Machinists had turned back the demands and threats not only of Eastern, but of the banks to which Eastern owes millions—among them giants of finance like Chase Manhattan and Citibank. But as the issue, which we called UP AGAINST THE GLOOM AND DOOM: Aggressive Unionism at Eastern Airlines, was ready to go to the printer, IAM 100 finally relented and gave up a concessions contract at the end of the year. What we were about to present to our readers as a model of union struggle had just been defeated. After we digested the sick feelings in our stomachs, we decided to go with the issue the way it was. On reflection we still felt that the way IAM 100 conducted itself in an impossibly difficult bargaining situation was a beacon for the labor movement in these troubled times.
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    Is the Press Anti-Labor Or Just Out of Touch...
    Hoyt, Michael (1984-06-01)
    [Excerpt] At 12:01 a.m., November 1, All Saints' Day 1983, the Chrysler Corporation's stamping plant in Twinsburg, Ohio, suddenly fell silent. Members of United Auto Workers Local 122 shut down their machines for a strike. As the door panels, floor pans, and other parts they produce stopped flowing across the country from Twinsburg, the only source of supply for these parts, half a dozen Chrysler assembly plants fell silent too. In New York that night, on NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw called it a "wildcat strike"-—an unauthorized walkout. On the other coast, a Los Angeles Times editor changed the first paragraphs of the Detroit bureau's story, making it "Robert Weissman's strike," a walkout "almost singlehandedly" engineered by Weissman, the president of the Twinsburg local union. The alterations made the story conform more closely with other coverage around the country, which implied that a pack of militants in Twinsburg was knocking Chrysler down just as the company was getting up off its knees. That was Chrysler's line on the strike, but it was just one way of looking at it. Weissman, a man who does not "regard the title of militant as a smear," has few fans among the top leaders of the UAW. But authorization for his local's strike had been carefully cleared through the union's regional director, its Chrysler director, and its new president, Owen Bieber, following fifteen fruitless months of local bargaining. As often happens in labor stories, a lot of good questions went unasked in Twinsburg. For example, what was the strike about?
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    Killing Jobs with "Cooperation": the GM Memo
    Russo, John (1984-06-01)
    [Excerpt] As the UAW and General Motors prepare for difficult negotiations for a 1984 national contract, a leaked document by GM's Vice-President of Industrial Relations Alfred Warren has severely embarrassed both company and union officials. The memo outlines a presentation made by Mr. Warren to GM Personnel Directors in October, 1983, and describes GM's bargaining strategy and basic labor policy. The company's goals include elimination of the cost-of-living allowance and productivity pay, and the institution of benefit co-payments; the elimination of local work rules and the expansion of outsourcing; the initiation of a two-tiered wage system; and the expansion of profit-sharing. The memo reveals that GM hopes to eliminate 80,000 to 100,000 jobs by 1986. To achieve these objectives, GM plans to elicit employee cooperation without surrendering traditional management rights. It hopes to replace formal bargaining with a "continuous agreement" and plans to launch a sophisticated public relations campaign to mold public opinion and to pressure the UAW into submission. So comprehensive and disturbing are GM's plans that UAW President Owen Bieber, who supported concessions in 1982, has said that the "document supports many of our worst suspicions about the motives and intentions of the General Motors Corporation." The implications of the document are far-reaching: American labor can expect employer belligerence in the foreseeable future.