Management is also becoming aware that young workers, on whom they must rely for their future labor supply, are more restless, independent and rebellious than the older employees whose spirit has been gradually subdued by the endless repetition of doing dull, mind-numbing automatic tasks year in and year out.
“The Lordstown Syndrome,” Clayton Fritchey, for the Associated Press (appearing here in the Lewiston Evening Journal, Lewiston, Maine), April 6, 1972
Fritchey finishes his article with this:
Some companies are going in for what they call “job enrichment.” The theory, according to the Wall Street Journal, is that workers become motivated when their jobs are seasoned with “satisfiers,” such as recognition, a sense of achievement, and personal growth. “There’s no question that people are motivated by needs other than just money,” says one plant manager.
In Germany, Lufthansa, the international airline, lets many of its employees work as much or as little as they please; they check in and out at their own convenience. In Sweden, Saab-Scania is touting a new assembly line that uses an industrial robot to assume many monotonous operations. The innovation is expected to allow a [sic] workers to produce an entire engine, instead of just a single part of it.
There is one postscript to all this. Not all workers, the UAW newsletter points out, resent boring, repetitive jobs. Some, it says, “are happy doing what drives others up the wall.” It concludes there is no pat answer to the problem, except “there does seem a need for more exploration in job enrichment so that work is not one big grind in a thwarted lifetime.”
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