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June 27, 1972 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1972-06-27

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Norwood, Oh io: On strl*ke aanst GM,

AT FIRST glance, N o r w o o d,
Ohio appears to be an ana-
chonisn. Its narrow residential
streets are lined with frame
houses and the small stores
along Montemery Avenue, the
main treet, featre creaky
wooden foInors and personal serv-
ice. An electrically illuminated
American flag rests atop t h e
city's Municipal Building. First
impressions, however, can be
misleading. Behind its seren-
ity, Norwood. a working class
suburb of Cincinnati, is t h e
scene of an industrial battle that
may soon be repeated through-
out the United States.
Last August. the General Mot-
ors Corporation transferred its
Fisher Body and Chevrolet oper-
ations at Norwood into the Gen-
eral Motors Assembly Division
(GMAD), a cost-cutting manage-
ment team with a reputation for
harshness. In all plants prev-
iously taken over by GMAD, jobs
had been eliminated and pro-
duction standards changed. The
results were no different at
Norwood. To counteract the ef-
fects of increased foreign com-
petition and a sagging profit
margin, GMAD functions to ex-
ploit its workers to whatever
limits it can reach.
ed more than 600 grievances
over production standards.
GMAD would not discuss them
- one worker described their
attitude as "Do as we say or
hit the street." In many instane-
WASHINGTON - President
Nixon's favorite Cuban, Bebe
Rebozo, has been associated
through a Miami real estate
firm with the Cuban bugging
crew that allegedly attempted
to install listening devices in-
side the Democratic party
The suspected leader of t he
bugging crew, Bernard Barker,
is a joint investor in real es-
tate developments with Miguel
Suarez. Cuban sources tell us
tha Rebozo has been involved in
some of their deals.
We were unable to reach Re-
bmo or Suarez for comment.
However, we managed to slip
into the D.C. jail to talk to the
suspects. They denied that Re-
bozo had anything to do with the
bugging attempt. But they ack-
nowledged that their hotel ac-
commodations at the fashion-
able Watergate and all their leg-
al expenses have been provid-
ed by a mysterious benefactor,
Meanwhile, Manuel Giberga,
the Cuban-American Coordinat-
or of the Republican National
Committee, and Rebozo a r e
blaming each other for the bi-
zarre bugging episode.
The 1968 Democratic running
mates Hubert Humphrey and Ed
Muskie, are working together
again. They have quietly joined
forces to stop George McGovern
from winning the 1972 presiden-
tial nomination.
A few weeks ago, Humphrey
and Muskie met quietly for

es increased aork loads made it
impossible to keep up with the
rate of production. Quality fell.
GMAD blamed it on sab-te,
and thus could send hime work-
ers without pay.
A United Automobile Workers
(UAW) representative described
GMAD's tactirs as "wanting to
change everything." Job classi-
fications were slightly altered to
eliminate conflicts over rates of
production which had been es-
tablished by the union c o n -
tracts. The contracts negotiated
with Fisher Body and Chevrolet
do not expire until September,
1973 and many workers feel they
are in effect working without a
contract. The changes made by
GMAD erased the gains of more
than 30 years of hard won strug-
gles at Norwood.
The Norwood workers are fight-
ing more than just management
policies. The UAW International,
which dictates the policy of
each union local, faces almost
unanimous worker opposition.
Local 674, which represents Nor-
wood, has always had a reputa-
tion for militancy that has of-
ten come into conflict with the
moderate platform of the In-.
ternational. After the national
ratification of the 1970 UAW con-
tract with GM, local 674 stayed
out an additional 40 days over
local grievances which w e r e
never fully settled. At that time,
International officers reportedly
told the local that "they got too
much too fast." Animosity still
brekfast at Muskie's home.
They compared notes and agreed
to keep in touch. Muskie men-
tioned that he was sore at Mc-
Govern over some remarks he
had made during the Wisconsin
The two 1968 nominees met
again at six o'clock the evening
before Muskie announced he
would stay in the race. Muskie
was tempted to end the agony
and throw his support to Mc-
Govern. This would have wrap-
ped up the nomination for Mc-
Govern. But Humphrey urged
him to hold out against the
Humphrey and Muskie made
no secret deal to support o n e
another if their own fortunes
faltered at the Miami conven-
tion. They agreed only to join
in stopping McGovern. Accord-
ing to Humphrey's private arith-
metic, McGovern can muster a
maximum of 1,345 votes. This
would be 164 votes short of the
Humphrey argued, therefore,
that the majority are opposed to
McGovern. The only question is
whether they can find somonrer
else they can agree upon.
-'TI lBER'!-
Our national forests are rapid-
ly being depletted by timber har-
vesting. Designated areas a r e
completey leveled with ;he full
approval of the National Park
service. This is good fer the
giant timber companies, if nt
for our forests.
It's not that the lumber is des-

remains because of these words.
WORKERS voted overwhelm-
ingly to strike against GMAD
last January. It was not until
April, however, before the Inter-
national authorized the strike.
As a result, workers have been
on strike for the past 11 weeks
in a struggle that many believe
benefits GMAD more than the
rank and file. Production of
Camaros and Firebirds, the
plant's main products, was
down shortly when the strike
was called. The union contract
requires GM to pay workers with
seniority almost their full lake-
home pay when no work is avail-
able for short periods, a Situa-
tion that existed prior to t h e
perately needed in the Uniled
States. A huge portion - some
two billion board feet a year -
is exported, most of it to Japan.
Some is shipped back to us as
expensive plywood.
Senator Robert Packwood (R-
Ore.) decided a few weeks ago
to put a stop to this. His fig-
ures showed the United States
would face a serious timber
shortage in 'a few years. He an--
nounced he would introduce a bill
banning the export of timber
from out national forests.
One day later, he made ano-
ther announcement.
He said he had changed his
Our sources tell us the Nixon
Administration brought oressure
on him to change his mind.
Packwood denied any pressure.
The real reason he dropped his
plan to ban timber exports, he
told us, was simply because he
found out he couldn't win. The
timber lobby, he said, was too
President Nixon has now de-
activated all American ground
combat units in Vietnam. But
the returning troops are coming
home to a break reception.
Many of them can't find decent
jobs. The disabled are consigned
to veterans hospitals, where con-
ditions are terrible. The thous-
ands of disabled GIs who man-
age to rejoin society find t h e
military bureaucracy won't leave
them alone.
Consider the case of Sergeant
Bill Richardson of Springfield,
111. He stepped on a ine iin Viet-
nam and lost both legs. He made
it home only to see his marriage
break up. Then came a letter
from the Army. There had been
an overpayment, the memo said.
He owed the Army $212.34. Rich-
ardson paid the money. A few
montis later, he got another
Army memo. This time, the bill
was for an additional $1,900.
Another legless veteran from
North Carolina put in an appli-
cation for what is known as a
"wheelchair home." The first
thing the Veterans Administra-
tion did was demand a physical
examination to see if his condi-
tion has improved.

strike. It may have been cheap-
er for GH to shut down altogeth-
er than to operate at minimuim
Model changeover is only one
month away and 1972 models re-
main on the idled ines. Many
workers expect GMAD to settle
shortly before changeover, mak-
ing short lived concessions that
will disappear as soon as 1973
models are in full swing. There
is already talk of another strike
in September or December, at
the latest.
Much of the anti-International
sentiment will have political re-
percussions this fall. Worker dis-
content exists toward the un-
ion's policy of backing only the
Democratic party candidates.
The UAW gave substantial con-
tributions to Ohio Gov. John Gil-
ligan for his gubernatorial cam-
paign in 1970. He promised Nor-
wood workers that taxes would
not be raised, yet acted other-
wise, once elected. As an act of
protest, some workers will vote
for Nixon land Wallace, should
he run on his third party tick-
et) as an act of protest to show
that the International does not
control the rank and file. One
worker described the dictatorial
policy of the UAW International
as "no different than Commun-
The most active form of pro-
test against the International
was in 1971, when workers threw
tomatoes, eggs and rocks at.
UAW officials. Unfortunately,
most workers do not see more
viable forms of dissent open to
them. They realize the power
they collectively hold, but are
restricted in their outlook by the
legal framework of the union.
PROSPECTS for change 1ie
with the future, though. Most
Norwood workers have been on
the job for at least five years
and find it difficult to break with
tradition. Some of the younger
workers were more likely to see

alternative plans of action, in-
cluding the formation of an in-
dependent labor party. At a
similar showdown between
GMAD and labor at Lordstown,
Ohio recently an unparalleled
level of union radicalism was de-
monstrated by the work force,
composed almost entirely of
young persons.
"Ten years from now, the only
people who can follow GMAD's
orders will be too old to do so
. . ,.The only people who will
work hard are the older ones.
The younger ones won't."
Eventually, all GM assembly
operations will be run by GMAD.
When they take over the home
plants in Michigan, they will be
placed against long established
work rules and militant workers,
particularly blacks, which may
add teeth to struggles like Nor-
"GMAD don't have to tighten
their belt. Ain't no one hurting
but the poor working working
The effects of If weeks of
strike are nos being felt at Nor-
wood. The picket line is filled
with stories on the latest losses
of mortgages and repossessions
of cars. Some workers have found
other jobs and may never return
to GMAD. The Derby Bar, near
the plant, has closed its kitchen.
Before the strike, it served meals
to a standing room only crowd.
General Motors may have fin-
ally decided to suspend opera-
tions in Norwood. Rumors have
spread that Proctor and Gamble
may buy the plant to expand its
Cincinnati operations.
"ONE THING about General
Motors: If they'd treat us like
people instead of like dogs,
they'd get their sonovabitci
work done."
furl Wagenheim is a senior
majoring in sociology who re-
cently visited the General Mo-
tors Plant at Norwood, Oio.

Edited and managed by students at the
University of Michigan
Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily Express the individual
opinions of the author. This must be noted in all reprints.
TUESDAY, JUNE 27, 1972 News Phone: 764 0552

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