Page 8-Saturday, June 10, 1978-The Michigan Daily
By Elaine Guregian
Selected Stories by V. S Pritchett, Random House,
New York, 1978, 332 pages, $10.00.
FADING A short story by V.S. Pritchett is like
looking at your neighbor down the street
through binoculars: when you focus correctly you
may get a beautiful, logical picture, yet you can
never forget that you're working especially hard to
see what is normal for the person you're watching.
All the works in Selected Stories are set in Prit-
chett's native England, and for an outsider, the
ubiquitous localisms - although they lend exotic
appeal - further complicate his already complex
plots. The struggle is worthwhile, though - Prit-
chett is a master of the traditional short story form.
The stories are spare, sometimes suggesting
more than they state, but there is no hint of the
changes Joyce or New Journalism have wrought
upon writing of all kinds. Pritchett relies on tense
plots and precise, strikingly Anglican, charac-
terization rather than delving into the characters'
ENGLISH class-consciousness pervades the
stories. "Don't be so damn middle class", one
character snaps to another, and no one makes any
comment about snobbery. Servants are fixtures in
many of the characters' households, and the poor
respect the rich:
Dad and Mother never minded being owed by the rich. They
had grown up in the days when you were afraid of offending
people, and to hear my mother talk you would have thought
that by asking the well-off to fork out you were going to kill
the goose that lays the golden egg, knock the bottom out of so-
ciety, and teta Labour government in.
Indeed, a person's rights are seen as being deter-
mined by his cash value:
In this neighborhood one could divide the world into those
who had pensions and those who hadn't ... As a librarian (Mr.
Fuimino pointed out), I would have a pension and thereby I had
overcome the first obstacle in being allowed to go out with
Pritchett neither defends nor censures these atti-
tudes; he simply incorporates them into his
evocation of English life.
"Blind Love" - A woman whose husband deser-
ted her when he discovered she had a birthinark
bvering her entire torso becomes romantically in-
volved with the blin p man whom sheis taking care
The union says S
started it. Now the
By Brian Blanchard
FIXED TO a grey metal filing cabinet above his head
is a fading sticker with an urgent, though dated,
message from the days of the farm workers' movement:
"DON'T BUY GRAPES." But a few feet to his left, on the
door of the fourth-floor Michigan Union office,is a newer ap-
peal which was likely mounted by Peter Downs himself:
"Don't Buy J. P. Stevens. Sheets. Towels. Carpets. Table
Downs and three other members of the Coalition for
Justice for J. P. Stevens Workers had gathered last Wed-
nesday in the heavily-postered office (lent to the cause last
March by the UFW) to explain why they think it's just as
important to boycott the products of Stevens, the second
largest U.S. textile firm (after Burlington), as it had been
in the past for consumers to go without non-union grapes,
Gallo wines, and Farah trousers.
THERE IS demonstrable proof, the coalition members
claim, that for 15 years justice has been mocked by
management in 85 textile plants (mostly in the South) for
the 44,000 workers who work without company-recognized
"They want it both ways," the bearded Downs, an LSA
graduate, said of Stevens policies. "They want to look fair,
while having the cards stacked on their side of the table."
By coincidence a Stevens representative in New York, J.
R. Franklin, had used the same phrase during a phone in-
terview earlier the same day to- describe the union in
question, the two year old AFL-CIO Amalgamated Clothing
and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU): "They want it both
ways. They want to say they represent Stevens employees,
but they don't want to submit to an election."
Both sides claim the support of the workers in the small
towns in Georgia and the Carolinas where towels and
hosiery are spun from cotton, products which then turn an
approximately $40 million annual profit for the company.
Though the Ann Arbor branch of the union supporters is
fairly new and the boycott is not yet two years old, the
unionization of J. P. Stevens has been an issue of ifront-page
proportions since the early 60s, when grapes were still on
most liberal dinner tables.
THE ACTWU begins its history of J. P. Stevens when the
New York-based company decided to move south a quarter-
century ago, a move the union labels "runaway shop",
from the feeling that Stevens was running away from the
better-regulated, more heavily unionized northern states.
Stevens has become "the symbol of corporate intransigen-
ce," to use a phrase from a February New York Times
news story, after having been cited15 times over the years
by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for unfair
labor practices. During this time Stevens had been forced
to pay more than $1.3 million to harassed or illegally fired
According to Thomas Miller from the Washington NLRB,
"we've only flat out lost one of those" in the courts,
meaning the courts have upheld the claims by the union and
the board that J. P. Stevens has treated its employees un-
justly 14 times.
The five-member NLRB had threatened Stevens with a
nation-wide injunction in January, seeking to obtain a court
order to end what it considered a series of unfair labor
practices. On April 28 of this year, however, the NLRB and
Stevens together reached a settlement which called for the
rehiring of 11 out of 15 employees fired, giving them back
pay. Stevens also agreed to comply with the National Labor
Relations Act (NLRA), in the future.
ON MAY 27 of this year, union organizers were allowed
on mill property for the first time in compliance with orders
from the Second Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court had
refused to review the case and in August, 1977 opposition by
Stevens resulted ina contempt ruling by the Second Circuit
One might expectthese two events the settlenent and
sympathizers note that the settlement doesn't comm
Stevens to anything more than the adherence to the ai
they have claimed all along and also point out that the cor
pany had to be forced by a court order to allow unit
representatives to come into the plants.
"It's (the settlement) a big promise of bullshit," sa
Pete Goldstein, the Detroit-based central states coo
dinator for the Citizens Committee for Justice for J. I
Stevens Workers, "there's no way a company like that
going to clean up their act."
In New York, Goldstein's national counter-part, Harrie
Teller said of the settlement, "Stevens is saying 'we won
do it any more, but we never did it anyway.' " Teller adde
Nothing is settled.
Stevens representative Franklin said what he thought th
settlement does not do. "All it means is that there is n
going to be an injunction. It is not an admission of guilt b:
HE CHARGED that the ACTWU is willing to lead th
workers, but unwilling to allow its right to represent then
be put to a vote. Franklin was voicing the defense heart
most often from Stevens policy makers anxious to assur
consumers and stock holders that Stevens executives ar
both humane and successful. On March 28, a week afte
David Mitchell, chairman of Avon Products Incorporate
had resigned from his position as a Stevens director citin
pressure from the union, Stevens ran an ad covering nearl
a full page in the New York Times headlined: "What is th
Real J. P. Stevens Issue?" In response to what it called a
"propaganda campaign" by the union, the company
stated: "We challenge ACTWU to settle the issue by secre
ballot elections" to determine whether or not the union i
supported by the majority of the workers.
There have been elections-Stevens claims 15-but unio
sympathizers tend to hold the number to about 12. Only on
plant, in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., has held a successful unio
vote. In August 1974, the majority of the 3,500 workers sup
ported the union. But today, four years later, Stevens an
the union still have not reached an agreement on a contract,
and workers are accusing the company of refusing to
bargain in good faith.
"They (Stevens negotiators) are willing to talk forever
but they are not willing to give an inch," said Christine
Wezeman, one of the coalition members who is working to
publicize the nation-wide boycott of Stevens products in the
Ann Arbor area.
IN ADDITION to the Roanoke Rapids plant, a number of
plants have begun elections, gotten involved in an unfair