The Michigan Daily - Thursday, November 12, 1998 -- 5A
Helping the homeless
Labor rights activist speaks at 'U'
Daily Staff Reporter
Charles Kernaghan, director of the National Labor
Committee, spoke to a crowd of more than 60 stu-
dents at the Michigan Union last hight, telling about
David vs. Goliath-like efforts to fight for labor
The National Labor Committee, consisting of just
five staff members, works against large corporations
like Wal-Mart and The Gap to protect workers' rights
by focusing on U.S. business practices in foreign
countries - in particular sweatshop exploitation in
Latin America, Kernaghan said.
Kernaghan said he intended to raise the public's
awareness of U.S. business practices abroad, and to let
students know they can make a difference.
"Everywhere I go, everyone is talking about what
the student movement is doing," Kernaghan said.
"There are around 50 campuses across the country
participating in the 'sweat free' movement. And this is
making companies very nervous."
Expressing their condemnation of worker exploita-
tion, students can participate in letter-writing cam-
paigns for the "sweat-free" movement, urging U.S.
businesses with sweat shops in foreign countries to
adopt a corporal code of conduct, he said.
A corporal code of conduct would protect the rights
of workers currently exploited by large companies,
"The Gap, which owns factories in El Salvador,
have women work from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m.;" Kernaghan
said. "These women sleep next to their sewing
machines and then start all over again at 7 the next
"These women are able to stay awake because they
are given amphetamines and are constantly yelled
at," Kernaghan said. "The factory is a hot, nasty
place where people are fainting, employers are
yelling and drinking water is denied. Bathrooms in
these factories are often locked in order to keep up
Kernaghan said companies like Levi's and The Gap
are not as bad as some U.S. companies. Liz Claiborne,
which also operates factories in El Salvador, reported-
ly pays its workers 84 cents for every $198 jacket they
produce, he said.
Spending only four-tenths of one percent of the sell-
ing price of the apparel on labor costs, Liz Claiborne
could easily raises wages without raising sale prices in
the United States, Kernaghan said.
In addition to a code, Kernaghan called for the right
of workers to organize in unions, independent moni-
toring of factories and corporal disclosure, whereby
the American public will have access to information
on where the products they purchase were produced.
"We can't settle for a watered-down code of con-
duct," Kernaghan said. "Companies are currently
pulling a fast one on the American public and this
needs to stop. Companies are not under enough pres-
sure to do something serious."
While pushing for change, Kernaghan does not
encourage boycotts of exploitative companies
because, he said, those actions would take jobs away
from already poor workers in Latin American coun-
Sample letters and postcards reading "I want to end
child labor and sweat shop abuses" addressed to com-
panies like Wal-Mart were distributed at last night's
event to encourage the "sweat-free" movement.
"People in the U.S. are doing more today for work-
ers' rights than anywhere else in the world. The world
is watching what the American people are saying"
The event was organized by Students Organizing
for Labor and Economic Equality.
Organizers said Kernaghan's appearance on campus
was one of the first steps to promoting awareness of
these issues on campus.
"There's a lot of affluence on this campus, but not a
lot of attention given to class-based issues," LSA
junior Lara Zador said.
Students said the speech showed a commitment to
changing the status quo.
"It gave me more faith that more people in this
world care in a realistic manner," LSA senior
Stephanie Pitsirilos said. "He put a human face on the
Jennifer Lewis, a non-University student, stands on the Diag last night to promote
awareness for the homeless.
Chrysler merger to become official
DETROIT (AP) - Seven often-
tumultuous decades as the scrappy sur-
vivor among the Big Three automakers
end for Chrysler Corp. today when its
merger with Germany's Daimler-Benz
G becomes official.
Seventy-three years after former
General Motors Corp. executive Walter
Chrysler renamed the Maxwell Motor
Car Co. after himself, Chrysler Corp.
retires into the history books. The Big
Three become the Big Two, and a new
era begins for the'Motor City.
But little will change immediately for
most employees of the new
DaimlerChrysler AG. The closing of
e $37 billion stock deal will be little
ore than a legality until Tuesday,
which executives have designated as
4 'Day One" of the new company.
On that day, the Chrysler signs in front
of the company's modern headquarters
outside Detroit will be changed to
paimlerChrysler, while employees on
both sides of the Atlantic start using
DaimlerChrysler stationery and business
'ards. The new company's stock will
begin trading on the New York and
ankfurt exchanges and an international
advertising campaign will introduce the
new company to the world's consumers.
The merger is among the largest in
Industrial history and a major step in the
continued globalization of the industry.
It puts Chrysler and Daimler on a more
competitive footing with the four global
automakers that will rank ahead of it:
GM, Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor
Corp. and Volkswagen AG.
Most of the hard work to make the
merger a success remains. On Day One,
only the companies' finance and pro-
curement operations will be fully
merged. Chrysler and Daimler will con-
tinue to operate, in many ways, as sepa-
"We have the luxury of a little bit of
time to work on blending organizations,
Chrysler President Thomas StalIkamp
said recently. "Not everything will be
integrated on Day One. The rest of it will
come as we believe it's prudent"
Today's closure of the deal also closes
the books on Chrysler as an American
corporation. DaimlerChrysler will be
incorporated in Germany.
Chrysler was incorporated on June 6,
1925, as the successor to Maxwell.
During the Depression, thanks to
increasing demand for its Plymouth car,
Chrysler gained ground while its major
competitors saw their sales decline. By
1935, it had replaced Ford as No. 2 in
sales behind GM - a spot it main-
tained until 1950.
The company was known in its early
years for several innovations, including
rubber engine mounts in 1932, the over-
"we have the luxury of a little bit of
time to work on blending
- Thomas Stallkamp
drive 'transmission in 1934 and the
ahead-of-its-time Chrysler and DeSoto
Airflow cars with their radically aero-
As the industry consolidated and
nameplates such as Hudson, Kaiser and
Studebaker disappeared, Chrysler held
on to its No. 3 position in the shadow of
the much bigger GM and Ford.
Chrysler earned a reputation for high-
performance engineering in the '50s and
'60s; its 426 Hemi V8 engine was leg-
endary during the muscle-car era. But by
the mid-1970s, Chrysler's sales were
falling as Americans turned to smaller,
fuel-efficient cars from Japan.
Lee Iacocca, a former Ford execu-
tive, was hired to run Chrysler and
helped persuade the federal govern-
ment in 1979 to guarantee $1.5 billion
worth of loans to keep the automaker
afloat. Concessions from workers and
creditors, staff cuts and the creation of
the K-car line also helped save
Iacocca became the first auto execu-
tive since Henry Ford to become an
American folk hero. His autobiography
became a bestseller, he appeared in
Chrysler commercials and was promot-
ed as a potential presidential candidate.
In the early 1980s, Chrysler's mini-
vans were a huge success, creating a
new market segment that all but killed
off the station wagon. But as lacocca
invested profits in new businesses,
including aerospace and electronics,
the company's K-car-based car line
grew stale. By the early 1990s,
Chrysler was again posting losses and
in serious trouble.
One purchase that turned out to be a
winner was Iacocca's 1987 buyout of
struggling American Motors Corp.,
which gave what turned out to be a huge
asset - the Jeep brand - just as
demand for sport utility vehicles was
about to take off.
Summer Orientation Employment
Election worker's error may
reverse close race outcome
STANDISH (AP) - A seven-vote win may turn into a
'ree-vote loss for Michael Baumgartner, who according
6unofficial returns won the 34th Circuit Court race.
An election worker's 10-vote recording error may
riverse the race's outcome, The Bay City Times reported
This week, vote canvassers found that 10 absentee
billots were left out of the tally submitted by Arenac
'unty's Lincoln Township.
All were marked for incumbent Circuit Judge Michael
Mtuzak, handing him the election by three votes.
Nearly 20,000 voters cast ballots in the race.
.For Roscommon Probate Judge Baumgartner, a loss in
th recount would be a repeat of the 1996 Circuit Court
'n that race, initial returns pronounced him the win-
ner, and a recount handed the judgeship to Ronald
Bergeron of Standish.
"The situation we're seeing in Arenac isn't common,
but it's not unheard of," said Josephine Scott, state elec-
This race is not yet decided, election workers warn.
"It's all up in the air," said Roma Dijak, Arenac
County clerk. "Our canvassers still have not certified the
They're being very careful. They still have some ques-
Once Arenac finishes its ballot recheck, the Michigan
Bureau of Elections must certify the Nov. 3 election.
State canvassers expect to do so at their Nov. 23 meet-
After state certification, Matuzak and Baumgartner
have two days to ask for a recount.
It's likely at least Matuzak will do so: the circuit judge
has already signed and had notarized a recount petition,
Ogemaw County Clerk Gary Klacking said.
The 34th circuit represents Arenac, Ogemaw and
"Regardless of the right to bear arms, we in no
way condone the right to bare feet."