Phelps's descriptions of the area where I was bred and buttered are accurate and thought-provoking. His overall history of the area from agricultural hub to industrial town highlights the effects of what companies provide when they are booming and the vacuum they inevitably leave when they are concerned only with profit. By our acceptance of profit over people we accept our lives on the companies terms.
Sadly, while we need labor unions now more than ever to curb the tide of multinational corporations, they instead mirror the dictatorial structure of top-down hierarchy. Phelps demonstrates that decent-paying jobs were not given voluntarily by GM; they were fought for by the rank and file. He also clearly shows that democratic actions such as the wildcat strikes of 1967 were seen by the UAW leadership as a threat .
Many unions believe that contracts should be negotiated behind doors and without involvement of rank-and-file workers. Do unions believe we can really have a resurgent labor movement without the involvement of workers?
This article reveals Mansfield, Ohio, as a microcosm of the nation as a whole. Many of my generation think we have to accept these terms of losing wages and benefits to help companies stay competitive. Hmm... during the years when we have seen the average worker's salary shrink, we have seen CEO pay and compensations blossom exponentially. He reminds us that decent-paying jobs were not given, they were won by democratic rank-and-file militancy.
Feb 4 2010 - 3:40pm