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October 28, 1979 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-10-28
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Page 8-Sunday, October 28, 1979
(Continued from Page 5)
people and .place at least another
200,000 in jobs in the organization's
15-year history.
Sullivan's influence in the OIC
network is legendary. A sense of
Sullivan's presence at every OIC of-
fice is evident, from the portraits of him
on the walls to the widely quoted
phrases he coined. To many trainees,
his influence may stop there. They
relate OIC to the director and staff
whom they know personally, according
to Brewer: But Sullivan is behind those
"bumblebees," as National Director of
Planning and Development Allan
Zekerman calls them, even though each
OIC is attuned to the community it ser-
Sullivan's extensive political influen-
ce is rooted in the 12 years he lobbied
Congress. He maintains close contact
with political leaders as prominent as
President Jimmy Carter and Detroit
Mayor Coleman Young, and his leader-
ship in the black community lends
credibility to his appeals for OIC. As
Brewer says, "Jobs and politics go
hand-in-hand." -
Sullivan's impact on OIC has fur-
nished the theological orientation of its
principles and the original emphasis on
the black community. The OIC network
is the second largest employer of blacks
in the country, but the organization is
not focused on any particular race. "We
recognize that the majority of people
who are disadvantaged are minorities,
in the sense of color, not worth," says
"It's not the color of the balloon that
determines how high you fly, but what's
inside of you," states a commonly
repeated Sullivan quote.
And although church activists par-
ticipate extensively in OIC, their
religious influence has not over-
whelmed the organization. The
theological roots promote concen-
tration on people and service delivery
instead of publicity, Brewer observes.
When GOIC was formed, it garnered
substantial support from the Detroit
area ministerial association. The chur-
ch link, however, does provide a com-
munity liaison which is as valued by
OIC as it is by politicians.
The National OIC organization, OIC's
of America, transfers Sullivan's
political influence to each center by
relaying information about relevant
federal government actions. The

national office coordinates programs,
gathers research, and administrates
pilot programs on several OIC centers
before they are applied across the coun-
try. The national policy-making board,
which Sullivan chairs, also provides a
standardizing and professionalizing
force. The National Urban League and
the Service, Education, and
Redevelopment organizations provide
similar services to OIC's.
OIC also operates in six other coun-
tries, where the organization is quite
divorced from the domestic norms. It is
still community-based, with adap-
tations to the specific country and its
peoples' needs.
All the training and education would
be meaningless without OIC's link with
employers and maintenance of their
support.- The rapport with the private
sector is a major challenge for each
OIC, according to Zekerman. GOIC's
exemplary relations with Detroit area
business and labor groups are
facilitated through the Technical and
Industrial Advisory Council, which is
comprised of 35 business and labor
representatives. The council is a key
contributor to GOIC's success and a
unique aspect of GOIC, compared to
other community-based organizations.
,The council is a panacea of technical
assistance to help GOIC plan and keep
programs apace with technological
developments and job market shifts.
Benefiting Detroit is a high priority
among City Council members, also.
Representatives from three atuo com-
panies, two newspapers, three utilities,
and groups like New Detroit are a few
of those providing GOIC with diverse
The close relationship GOIC now en-
joys with 32 major corporations did not
develop automatically. Brewer
systematically has cultivated contacts
with each firm, first by selling his
organization to the company's
executive officer, and then to a person-
nel official. Once the relationship is
established firmly, Williams and the
job developers take over regular com-
The sales pitch is termed MATCH,
which stands for saving firms Money
(because they can skip in-house
training), reducing Attrition,
establishing a Trust relationship,
providing Competence, and "We're
Honest with you." The honesty aspect,
according to Brewer and Williams,

means GOIC is aware of affirmative
action _ pressures on employers, who
want to hire competent minorities from
a trustworthy organization.
Ford Motor Company is GOIC's
largest contributor, supplying $20,000 in
funds alone each year. General Motors
might be expected to head the list, in
view of Sullivan's board membership.
Brewer explains, "Henry Ford is a per-
sonal friend of mine. We developed that
friendship because of his concern for
the community."
Businesses also provide "in kind"
assistance by supplying GOIC with ren-
tal equipment for training or, for
example, a staff member to conduct a
workshop free of charge. And their
projections of employment needs are
invaluable to GOIC's successful
placement rates.
Employers would not pursue
relations with GOIC if they were
dissatisfied with the products they hire
or the management of the organization.
"It's a wonderful organization," ex-
claims Hodges. "If we didn't have a
GOIC, we'd probably have to invent
Ford's representative to the council
is John Stewart, manager of education
and personnel resources. "They do an,
excellent job," Stewart says. Skills are
not essential at the automotive industry
entry level, Stewart explains, so most
of his observations are based on GOIC's
graduates of the clerical program. "It's
a fine organization," he concludes.
General Motors Assistant Em-
ployment Supervisor Tom Long
likewise lauds GOIC and its director,
but his visage of the future reflects the
tribulations GOIC faces in an in-
creasingly slack economy. "We have
been hiring some people from GOIC,
but right now, we're not doing
anything," Long says. He adds the
company is trying to reinstate laid off
employees and plans to consolidate the
hiring system, which may hamper
GOIC placement possibilities for some
Long says GOIC trainees are "on the
average, better equipped and better
oriented to what to expect" than per-
sons trained elsewhere. Although GOIC
has not altered the cost and time spent
orienting new employees to safety
measures and the wage system, "We're
getting better qualified people in here,"
Long says.
While the AFL-CIO supplies no finan-
cial assistance per se, council member
Kara Coates says the in-kind support
contribution cannot be measured
monetarily. Coates, who is regional
director of AFL-CIO's manpower arm,
says the organization supports GOIC
completely. "They're the best at what
they do as far as training, with the help
of organized labor and business, they do
an incredible job," Coates adds. He
commended the training program
because "OIC talks the vernacular of

the people that are there for training,"
which aids trainees in learning to ex-
press themselves.
Says Brewer, "This is a union town,
we're working tbward a stronger union
relationship." He is aware that a
listless economy is bound to make
GOIC's mission more difficult, but he
does not foresee a devastating effect.
"Everybody is taking the conservative
perspective now. They're not hiring
today and we must convince them (fir-
ms) that our product is superior," he
says. "It's not going to be easy." To
prepare for the downturn, he says in-
tensive marketing strategies tied in
with economic growth are being
devised so that GOIC knows when em-
ployers are locating in the community
and the type of people and skills they'll
need. Despite such planning, Brewer
says, "We have to show them they need
more people. We recognize technology
is taking over. Therefore, GOIC is
trying to branch out into more advan-
ced areas, such as developing an elec-
tromechanics program affiliated with
IBM. Also, when the job market shifts,
as Brewer points out, people have to be
retrained to keep their skills
marketable. To keep pace with these
shifts, Brewer wants to professionalize
the staff and provide a "collage" of
resources. GOIC already disseminates
a wide range of information on subjects
from redlining to adult education.
.Brewer is confident in GOIC's ability
to change with the times since he has
already experienced dramatic expan-
sion and alteration during his tenure at
the center. When GOIC was established
in 1972, it operated one office and
worked with $180,000 from business and
labor supporters. Now GOIC has an an-
nual $5.5 million budget and has
facilities in Lincoln Park, one on
Detroit's east side, in addition to the
main office on the west side, and "We
want to go to Inkster." He says, "We
build where industry comes to us and
where we have their guaranteed com-
mitment." Brewer says if government
support were cut back substantially,
GOIC could secure half of its budget
from the private sector within two
In fact, the only problem with GOIC
anyone cited was that it may spread it-
self too thin in order to maintain its
current performance level. GOIC is
serving at capacity level, which is
another reason it shuns advertising.
And if GOIC grows excessively, it will
be unable to continue providing quality,
individualized training. The key to the
success of the national OIC and
Detroit's GOIC is motivating people to
help themselves. "I'd love to say we
discovered the key to motivation,"
Brewer says. "We just applied it.' The
OIC formula is not magical, he adds.
"When you deal with the dignity and
worth of a human being, you motivate




(Continued from Page 7)
power. Nader also hopes a third party
would give both active support and in-
centive to the co-op movement. "I think
co-ops need political party support,"
Nader said during his three-hour stop
here last week. "It's not likely to come
from the two parties we have now.''
However, last year Nader's National
Consumer Cooperative Bank Act was'
signed into law by a Democratic
president. The bank basically is inten-
ded to provide assistance to both new
and existing co-ops, thereby en-
couraging. their development. As for
Carter's appointments to the new
Bank's 13-member Board of Directors,
Nader said, "They're not the-best ones,
but they're far better than your usual
run of appointmentment . . . It's good
enough if we can develop a powerful
environment around it in the
cooperative economy." Continuing on
political .parties, Nader said he thinks
though co-op development would fare
better under a third party, Carter is of-
fering more support to the new bank
than would a Republican president.

As always, Nader denies he is run-
ning for office on a third party ticket or
with one of the established parties. In
fact, this time around it seems as if the
traditional candidate-to-citizens role is
reversed. Nader appears to be -wat-
ching his own constituency-the
grassroots of America-in the up-
coming election to see if it will emerge
as the new fighting force against big
business and bureaucracy, a whole
slew of knights in armor. And who
knows what the outcome will be? If the
people couldn't, or wouldn't try to, in-
fluence their congresspersons to vote
for the consumer protection bill; is it
right to expect them to be able to
organize on their own? Meanwhile,
journalists and politicians in the
nation's capitol will continue to keep
their eyes on Nader, as they always
have and probably always will.
Perhaps the headlines are correct in
part: Maybe Nader is at the moment
"obsolete" in Washington. But in his
innovative attempt to rally to action the
hamlets and the cornfields of America,
he is only just beginning.



Owen Gleiberman

Elizabeth Slowik

Associate editor
Cover photo by Peter Serling

Supplement to The Michigan Daily

Ann Arbor, Michigan-Sunday, October 28, 1979

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