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January 20, 1980 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-01-20

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Page 10-Sunday, January 20, 1980-The Michigan Daily

SEED conference workshops focus on labor

(Continued from Page 7)
improving Labor's
Public Image
Labor's bad public image comes
from 'alack of mutual understanding by
the media and labor officials, panel
members said. Public relations experts
from two unions and two media
organizations also said unions face
several problems in projecting their
side of labor issues, While panel mem-
Iegs expressed disparate opinions, they
ial1 agreed the press has generally
Qovered labor matters in a manner un-
favorable to the labor movement. Kim
$7ellner, information director for the
Screen Actors Guild, and Gary Hub-
bard of the United Steelworkers union
said they were angry at the way the
press covers. unions. The recent
television programs 'Skag' , and
'Power' misrepresented union
tnethods and officials, they said. navid
Moberg, a reporter for the labor journal
i9 These Times, said labor was partly

to blame for its current image. He
suggested big labor could "open up" its
operations, and that a plan. for the
future of the labor movement should be
developed. He claimed this would help
dispel suspicions which surround the
large unions.
Campus Organizing
The hierarchical, corporation-like
structure of the University is the main
barrier to campus organizing, agreed
four campus organizers. Problems for
university clerical workers include a'
lack of experience in trade unions, a
lack of emphasis upon clerical
organizing, an abundance of male
organizers in a predominantly female
field, as well as a lack of a broader
political movement with which
clericals can identify, according to An-
ne Hill, a national organizer for
working women. Joseph Schwartz of
the Democratic Socialist Organizing
Committee, said there is a direct
relationship between the "unorganized

workers" employed by'universities and
the "largely unorganized students" on
campuses. But, added Schwartz,
"much like the late 50's and early 60's,
students with 'free social space' have
begun to make demands." This time, he
added, it will be necessary for the
community, students, workers, and
university faculty to organize together.
Marti Bombyk of the Graduate Em-
ployees' Organization (GEO) said that
GEO, which the University (ad-
ministrators and Regents) has refused
to bargain with on the grounds that the
teaching assistants are students but not
employees, is "the most repressed local
in the American Federation of
Pension Rights and
Job Security
Randy Barber, co-director of the
People's Business Commission, told a
crowd of 180 that much of the $600
billion in pension funds across the coun-

try is being used by corporations to
support non-union big business. "Your
monies are being used as a club, and
they're beating you over the head with
it," said Barber. Author of "The North
Shall Rise Again," a book about labor
unions, Barber told his audience that
because pension fund investments are
important to large corporations, union
input on such decisions could ensure
that laborers help each other. Barber
pointed to public employee pension
funds as an example of what he termed
bad financial investments. Of the $6
billion in such funds in Michigan, Bar-
ber estimated that "less than 10 per
cent of that is reinvested into the com-
munity." The first step, he said, is fin-
ding out how pension funds are curren-
tly invested. "We've really got to find
out where our money is," he said.
Inflation and
The Vietnam War and high energy
costs are responsible for the nation's
economic woes, three speakers said.
University Economics Prof. Daniel
Fusfeld, UAW economist Peter
Eckstein, and Roger Hickey, director of
Consumers Opposed to Inflation in the
Necessities (COIN) spoke to a crowd of
more than 100, advocating different
policies for combatting the problems.
Fusfeld said he believed price, wage,
and profit controls should bee enacted
and urged that the country only import
oil for which we could currently pay:
"That means gasoline rationing," the

economics professor said. Eckstein
said the Vietnam War overheated the
economy, indicating that the nation's
standard of living didn't go down while
goods were sent to Vietnam and
destroyed. Eckstein said the tight
money market is not decreasing
demand for energy, but it is in the
housing and automobile market, which
hurts labor. He said the demand for
energy must be reduced in order to
restore the economy to health. Hickey
said the politically progressive should
articulate an economic policy and
mobilize the people in support of that
Corporate Policy
and the Public
Led by U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-
Detroit) and State Rep. Perry Bullard.
(D-Ann Arbor) the workshop delved in-
to legislative actions being taken to in-
sure corporate accountability. Conyers
stressed that the economic problems
confronting the nation are essentially.
the same ones the country faced when
'he first came to the House of Represen-
tatives in 1965. Bullard, who has spon-
sored legislation to combat the problem
of runaway plants, also, stressed cor-
porate responsibility. Eventually,
however, Conyers turned to discussion
of President Carter's handling of the
Iranian crisis, claiming that Carter had
seized the opportunity to raise the
defense budget.

An Evening with.
Friday, February 8--8O0 and 11:00 p.m.
The Michigan Theatre
BY POPULAR DEMAND! 2nd show has been added-11:00 p.m.
TICKETS, $7.50 reserved, ON SALE NOW at the Michigan
Union Box Office,
CbI 7632071 for more information

Union Busting
Consulting firms hired to aid corpora-
tions in combatting unionism were
discussed in the workshop. According
to Jules Bernstein, Laborers Inter-
national Union lawyer, "Union busting
today is being done by people with
sophisticated social science and legal
technology for manipulation of working
people." He said National Labor
Relations Board union decertifications
have "skyrocketed" among cor-
porations that have hired such firms.
Barbara Rahke, a UAW organizer who
was active in the recent organization of
clerical and technical workers at
Boston University, said her group was
confronted by an anti-union firm from
Chicago that was hired by the univer-
sity. She said that after the union
organizers realized they were up again-
st a well-organized firm, and contacted
other unions that had faced the same
firm, they were -better able to combat
the company's efforts to dissuade,
workers from approving a union. Ber-
nstein said unions can fend off con-
sulting firms through education,
research, and administrative,
legislative and legal remedies.
Plant Shutdowns
The only apparent solution to the
problems created by plant shutdowns
would be a comprehensive federal-level
legislation, according to two speakers
at the workshop covering plant
closings. Sheldon Friedman, a resear-
ch associate for the United Auto
Workers, and Richard Greenwood,
assistant to the president of the -Inter-
national Association of Machinists and
Aerospace Workers, presided over the
discussion. The National Employment
Priorities and National Labor Relations
Acts require rewriting, according to the
speakers, to help alleviate the
economic problems for workers and
communities associated with plant
shutdowns and relocations. Also, laws
governing unemployment insurance
make it easy for employers to "play off
one state against another," according
to the speakers, because unem-
ployment insurance programs vary
from state to state.
-The above synopses of the SEE
labor conference were filed by Daily
reporters who attended the sessions
that were held yesterday in Angell

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