David Robertson, who has worked at Boeing for 35 of his 54 years, following his father into the business, said he suspected that when the jobs head elsewhere his employer will miss the commitment and expertise built through company clans like his.

“What did we talk about at supper?” Mr. Robertson asked. “We talked about planes. You go to a place where people don’t have that history, where people haven’t been doing it for generations, and to them it’s just a job.”

"Boeing Departure Shakes Wichita and It’s Identity as Airplane Capital," A.G. Sulzberger, New York Times, January 19, 2012, A10

2,160 Boeing workers will lose their jobs when the aircraft maker shutters its Wichita complex within the next two years.

On Jan. 17, 1962, President Kennedy signed Executive Order 10988, bringing collective bargaining rights to most federal workers for the first time. Kennedy’s order might be the least known of the string of significant events that made the 1960s such crucial years in American history. At the time Kennedy acted, very few workers at any level of government had won the right to bargain collectively with their employers. Federal action helped inspire many states and localities to follow suit, allowing their own workers to organize. This triggered a huge wave of unionization in the public sector that saw firefighters, teachers, sanitation workers, social workers and many others form unions in the 1960s and ’70s.

Historian Joseph A. McCartin, writing in the Los Angeles Times this Tuesday. McCartin’s op-ed points out the disparities between President Reagan’s handling of a striking public sector union (PATCO) in 1981 with last year’s conservative assault on bargaining rights for state employees in Wisconsin, Ohio, and other states controlled by Republican governors and legislatures. What’s most interesting to me here is McCartin’s description of the major push-factor that led to Kennedy’s executive order, a bill under discussion in Congress to formalize Federal employees’ right to bargain over pay, rather than just work rules and grievances:

[Kennedy’s Executive Order] was scarcely the sop to the union movement that some critics argued at the time and continue to believe today. The order instead fell far short of what the union movement wanted, and it headed off a more union-friendly law that Congress was set to consider when Kennedy took office.

That bill would have given federal workers robust bargaining rights, including the right to negotiate over pay and benefits. Kennedy and his advisors sought to sidetrack that initiative by proposing a far more modest approach. Kennedy’s order did not grant federal workers the right to bargain over pay. Ironically, his order was so incremental that the words “collective” and “bargaining” never appeared in it. Labor did not love it, but most government workers welcomed the order as a sign that their voices would no longer be ignored.

I can’t find anything on this proposed bill online; I’ll have to look elsewhere. It’s fascinating that Congress was considering a strong collective bargaining right for U.S. government workers though.

Kennedy’s executive order can be found here, and it’s useful to look at the language used to codify the right to unionize. The third paragraph spells it out,

WHEREAS subject to law and the paramount requirements of the public service, employee-management relations within the Federal service should be improved by providing employees an opportunity for greater participation in the formulation and implementation of policies and procedures affecting the conditions of their employment;

(My italics.)

I don’t want to comment too specifically on events in Wisconsin and Ohio last year, as this is a labor history blog rather than an explicitly partisan political blog, but the essence of Governor Scott Walker’s removal of public sector bargaining rights in 2011 was to disagree with the notion that workplaces and productivity are improved by giving workers some input into the nature of their employment. As McCartin explains in his op-ed, Walker and Governor John Kasich of Ohio went much further than President Reagan in taking on public sector unions by denying the basis of any right to bargain as a net positive to the government and, by extent, to the taxpayer. Instead, this was characterized as the source of each state’s financial deficit, and as an unaffordable luxury in these hard times.

newmanology:

I Am a Man poster, Memphis, 1968

newmanology:

I Am a Man poster, Memphis, 1968

With Selma and the voting rights bill one era of our struggle came to a close and a new era came into being. Now out struggle is for genuine equality which means economic equality. For we know now that it isn’t enough to integrate lunch counters. What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn’t earn enough money to buy a hamburger and a cup of coffee? […] What does it profit a man to be able to eat at the swankiest integrated restaurant when he doesn’t earn enough money to take his wife out to dine? […] What does it profit one to have access to the hotels of our city and the motels of our highway when we don’t earn enough money to take our family on a vacation? […] What does it profit one to be able to attend an integrated school when he doesn’t earn enough money to buy his children school clothes?

Martin Luther King Jr., speaking at an American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees mass meeting, Bishop Charles Mason Temple, Church of God in Christ, Memphis, Tennessee, on March 18, 1968.

Martin Luther King Jr., All Labor Has Dignity, Boston: Beacon Press, 2011, ed. Michael Honey, pp.175-176

Editing, proofreading, setting type, and printing a newspaper at the San Jose Mercury News in 1970. Fascinating stuff.

This video was produced by Carroll Films, and belongs to the Academic Film Archive of North America, streamable through the Internet Archive.

Via The Atlantic

nwkarchivist:

“All In The Family” Premiered On This Day In 1971
America may not be ready for CBS’s “All in the Family,”…the curtain opens with a lusty hippie type strenuously trying to drag his microskirted wife into bed before her folks come home from church.  Mom (Jean Stapleton) and Dad (Carroll O’Connor) arrive in time to thwart them.  In short order, his Dad calls his son-in-law a “dumb Polack,” malignes Jews, blacks and Puerto Ricans.  “Family” is clearly a long walk from “Father Knows Best.”
Newsweek January 18, 1971

Here’s Carroll O’Connor, who played Archie Bunker, interviewed in the June 1972 issue of Ebony magazine:

Is [Archie] White America? Well, I’d say that he certainly reflects a slice of White America. It’s a slice that is, like Archie, standing on a sort of bridge between the past and tomorrow. These are the people who know that the past is going. It is going! Archie is on the bridge. Archie doesn’t want the past to go and we show him as that kind of man. He’s a man who doesn’t want to cross over. He doesn’t want to witness the future. He’s just not going to go over that bridge. Now this makes him a loser, because everyone else is going to go over and leave him behind.

Jefferson Cowie describes Archie Bunker as an “historical relic, the pop icon of the ‘authoritarian working-class,’ who fought and railed against the New Politics of the 1960s,”* while noting that All in the Family was hugely popular among the white working class it set out to satirize. To lots of AITF fans, Archie spoke to the bubbling dissatisfaction among many whites towards their jobs, specifically the repetitive and boring nature of work on the production line, and of a resentment of ethnic minorities who appeared to have captured the attention of the country’s political system. Pete Hamill, in an article for New York magazine’s April 14, 1969 issue, quoted a white ironworker:

I average about $8,500 a year, pretty good money. I work my ass off. But  I can’t make it. I come home at the end of the week, I start paying the  bills, I give my wife some money for food. And there’s nothing left.  Maybe, if I work overtime, I get $15 or $20 to spend on myself. But most  of the time, there’s nothin’. They take $65 a week out of my pay. I  have to come up with $90 a month rent. But every time I turn around, one  of the kids needs shoes or a dress or something for school. And then I  pick up a paper and read about a million people on welfare in New York  or spades rioting in some college or some fat welfare bitch  demanding—you know, not askin’, demanding—a credit card at Korvette’s … I work for a living and / can’t get a credit card at Korvette’s … You  know, you see that, and you want to go out and strangle someone.

It’s a narrow, reactionary view of America in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but this was how the world seemed to work to lots of people stuck in unrewarding, blue collar jobs. Archie Bunker is easy to laugh at as a relic of an earlier age, where a white man would have no trouble finding and keeping a decent, union job without having to compete with blacks or latinos, but there’s also space for sympathy and understanding of his plight.
* Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class, New York, London: The New Press, 2010, p.193

nwkarchivist:

“All In The Family” Premiered On This Day In 1971

America may not be ready for CBS’s “All in the Family,”…the curtain opens with a lusty hippie type strenuously trying to drag his microskirted wife into bed before her folks come home from church.  Mom (Jean Stapleton) and Dad (Carroll O’Connor) arrive in time to thwart them.  In short order, his Dad calls his son-in-law a “dumb Polack,” malignes Jews, blacks and Puerto Ricans.  “Family” is clearly a long walk from “Father Knows Best.”

Newsweek January 18, 1971

Here’s Carroll O’Connor, who played Archie Bunker, interviewed in the June 1972 issue of Ebony magazine:

Is [Archie] White America? Well, I’d say that he certainly reflects a slice of White America. It’s a slice that is, like Archie, standing on a sort of bridge between the past and tomorrow. These are the people who know that the past is going. It is going! Archie is on the bridge. Archie doesn’t want the past to go and we show him as that kind of man. He’s a man who doesn’t want to cross over. He doesn’t want to witness the future. He’s just not going to go over that bridge. Now this makes him a loser, because everyone else is going to go over and leave him behind.

Jefferson Cowie describes Archie Bunker as an “historical relic, the pop icon of the ‘authoritarian working-class,’ who fought and railed against the New Politics of the 1960s,”* while noting that All in the Family was hugely popular among the white working class it set out to satirize. To lots of AITF fans, Archie spoke to the bubbling dissatisfaction among many whites towards their jobs, specifically the repetitive and boring nature of work on the production line, and of a resentment of ethnic minorities who appeared to have captured the attention of the country’s political system. Pete Hamill, in an article for New York magazine’s April 14, 1969 issue, quoted a white ironworker:

I average about $8,500 a year, pretty good money. I work my ass off. But I can’t make it. I come home at the end of the week, I start paying the bills, I give my wife some money for food. And there’s nothing left. Maybe, if I work overtime, I get $15 or $20 to spend on myself. But most of the time, there’s nothin’. They take $65 a week out of my pay. I have to come up with $90 a month rent. But every time I turn around, one of the kids needs shoes or a dress or something for school. And then I pick up a paper and read about a million people on welfare in New York or spades rioting in some college or some fat welfare bitch demanding—you know, not askin’, demanding—a credit card at Korvette’s … I work for a living and / can’t get a credit card at Korvette’s … You know, you see that, and you want to go out and strangle someone.

It’s a narrow, reactionary view of America in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but this was how the world seemed to work to lots of people stuck in unrewarding, blue collar jobs. Archie Bunker is easy to laugh at as a relic of an earlier age, where a white man would have no trouble finding and keeping a decent, union job without having to compete with blacks or latinos, but there’s also space for sympathy and understanding of his plight.

* Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class, New York, London: The New Press, 2010, p.193

todaysdocument:

Just so you know…January is Be Kind to Food Servers Month.

Please remember to be nice to your waiter, waitress or lunch lady!

And every other month too.

Another Merle Haggard song with a similar theme, his top 30 hit from 1973, “If We Make it Through December.”

This was actually first released as a Christmas song. Coming in the middle of the 1973 oil crisis, which sent gas prices for Americans through the roof, Haggard’s song echoes the worrying political and economic atmosphere of the time.

GAS RATIONING SYSTEM (ODD-EVEN PLAN) IS ANNOUNCED IN AN AFTERNOON NEWSPAPER BEING READ AT A SERVICE STATION WITH A SIGN IN THE BACKGROUND STATING NO GAS IS AVAILABLE, 01/1974

(Photo credit: David Falconer for the DOCUMERICA project, Environmental Protection Agency, January 1974)

Merl Haggard singing “Are the Good Times Really Over?” on television at some point in the mid-1980s.

Haggard had a knack for crafting simple country songs expressing deep concern for the economic security of the American working and middle classes in the final third of the twentieth century. Notice that this broadcast begins with Norman Rockwell’s representation of the “Freedom from want,” an image intended to capture the comfort and security of an economically strong United States at the dawn of the post-war era. Much of Haggard’s work during the 1970s, his creative peak, focuses on the souring of Roosevelt and Rockwell’s promise, and the beginnings of economic stagnation. Of course huge strides were taken in the intervening years to drastically improve the quality of life for working Americans, but songs such as “Are the Good Times Really Over” suggest Haggard saw the signs of national decline all around him. As always with Haggard, his own view of the cultural and social changes of this era is complex and difficult to draw out from just the lyrics, but this is a song intended to reflect the struggle going on in many American homes between a deep pessimism and a contrasting faith in the ability of the United States to return to the path it seemed to have slipped from in the 1970s.


From left, Salvador Herrera, 40, from El Salvador,  Jose Castillo, 58, from El Salvador and Gerasmo Perez, 63, from Mexico  wait for work at a day laborer site in Los Angeles, California, on  November 23, 2011. (Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)

Image from In Focus with Alan Taylor @TheAtlantic.com

From left, Salvador Herrera, 40, from El Salvador, Jose Castillo, 58, from El Salvador and Gerasmo Perez, 63, from Mexico wait for work at a day laborer site in Los Angeles, California, on November 23, 2011. (Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)

Image from In Focus with Alan Taylor @TheAtlantic.com