September 23rd, 2006
“I wanted a union not so much for the money,” said line worker Peter Schmitz, “I wanted a union … to have a little say so about the speed of that line. Like I say you couldn’t do quality work, it just wasn’t possible that you could do quality work the way you had to work2.” In the 1930’s Schmitz worked at a General Motors (GM) automobile factory in Flint, Michigan. During the Great Depression, GM, the largest industrial corporation in the world, made the most money in the world1. In 1936, it netted $225 million – 24% of capitalization. Its top executives made 200 times the money of its average worker, who made far below the federal decency standard for a family of four. But it was the speed-up that pushed many to the breaking point. “The men worked like fiends,” said one witness, “their jaws set and eyes on fire. Nothing in the world exists for them except the line chassis bearing down on them relentlessly.”
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Around the Nation
Wednesday, December 10, 2008; A10
Firm That Closed Factory To Get Credit From Bank
CHICAGO -- Bank of America said Tuesday that it will extend credit to a Chicago window and door maker whose workers have occupied the factory for five days.
The bank said that it is willing to give Republic Windows & Doors "a limited amount of additional loans" to resolve claims of employees who have staged a sit-in since Friday. The factory closed Friday after Bank of America canceled its financing.
Workers, who were given three days' notice, refused to leave and vowed to stay there until receiving assurances they would get severance and accrued vacation pay.