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December 05, 1986 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-12-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Continued from Page 16

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18

Friday, December 5, 1986

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Mon.-Fri. 9-9

he smarter than Meany? I
don't know. But he's smarter
in different ways because he's
learned different things. And
he's responding differently to
a new set of circumstances.
Likewise within the UAW."
How had Fishman fared in
this evolutionary process?
AFSCME's Pall feels that
Fishman was one of those
leaders who had adapted very
effectively. "He was a very
high-tech person. He brought
the union into the same
technological changes that
management is into, with
computerization and com-
munications."
Fishman said even the once
strongly-adversarial relation-
ship between labor and man-
agement was changing.
Sometimes, however, they
change more slowly than one
would like.
"I'm disdainful of some
idiots within the American
business community, who" he
complained, "unlike their
counterparts in any other
democratic country in the
world, continue to want to
live by the old rules ... to
the extent that they would
like to destroy the American
labor movement.
"I say they're idiots be-
cause they're not going to be
able to get away with it and
they should realize it. They
haven't up until now and,
with all their smart lawyers
or whatever, be
not
going to every be able to do
it. And on top of that, it's a
luxury that they're taking on
to themselves that is not
served well in our com-
munities, in our states, in our
nation.
"They're like Nero — they
want to fiddle while Rome is
burning. The world economy
is changing. America has
very many significant prob-
lems. The political struggles
in the world are changing.
Past history says America
was impregnable. Well, it's
not true at all anymore.
Everybody realizes that. some
industrial leaders do not."
To those industrial leaders,
Fishman was defiant. "We're
not just going to disappear
and go away to make our
enemies happy. To the con-
trary, the labor movement
will never die, because it re-
presents one of the most nob-
lest ways for working people •
to fight for a greater measure
of economic democracy, for
social mobility and freedoms
and all the other things that
the labor movement has his-
torically fought for."
Unfortunately, Fishman
said, a lot of the newer union
members are not appreciative
or even aware of some things
that were won for them. "We
take getting an education in
this country for granted ...
Almost all of the main things
that we cling to in this coun-
try, the labor movement's
been in the forefront of those
fights. Against prejudice of
all kinds, against any and all

groups. I think working
people — that's a natural
urge — you go into your.
workplace, you want to have
something to say regarding
the conditions of your em-
ployment."
Fishman also defended
unions by pointing out just
how much non-union mem-
bers indirectly benefit from
unions — company-paid med-
ical plans and pensions to
name two examples. In his
mind, unions indirectly
negotiated for employees of a
large company — IBM for in-
stance — who are not
unionized. In fact, they may
actually do better than union
members. In order for a com-
pany to keep out a union, he
said, very often they will
offer wages and benefit pack-
ages that are equal to
unionized workers. This way,
the employer convinces the
employee that there's no need
to join, and according to
Fishman, they may even
throw in a few "sweetners."
"Now, if the labor move-
ment was not around," he
said, "I assure you that the
office workers at IBM, Steel-
case, Ford or wherever, and
other segments of the popula-
tion that are affected by the
standard that we set, their
standard of living would be
considerably lower than what

it is."
Fishman faulted the labor
movement for not being more
effective in communicating
this message, depriving
themselves of broadened sup-
port.
"I'm still old enough —
maybe I should say young
enough — to remember the
fight at Ford in 1949 for the
first pension in any union for
an industrial worker in the
auto industry. We pioneered
that. We got it for millions of
others in and outside the
labor movement. So if we do
a better job in communicat-
ing and educating about this,
I think there will be some
payoffs for us."0

Sam Fishman

Sam Fishman, 62, died
in Washington, D.C. Nov.
27 during emergency heart
surgery.
He is survived by his
wife Doris of Lansing; a
son, Phillip of Bangkok,
Thailand; a daughter, Ann
of Silver Spring, Md.; two
sisters, Diane Lieber and
Shirley Hirsch, both of
New York City; and one
grandson.
Fishman was visiting
his daughter at the time of
his death. In accordance
with the wishes of his fam-
ily, he was buried in
Mount Lebanon Cemetery,
in Adelphi, Md., north of
Washington, D.C.
At press time, plans for
a memorial service in
Michigan were incomplete.

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