Skip to main content

tv   Lectures in History Late-20th Century Transformation of Work  CSPAN  April 20, 2019 7:59pm-8:54pm EDT

7:59 pm
role of u.s. democracy in foreign policy for the past hundred years. tonight at 10:30 p.m. only on c-span3. on lectures in history. georgetown university professor joseph mccartin teaches a class on industrialization and the workforce from the 1960's through the end of the 20th century. he describes emerging achnologies like computers, decrease in union power, and an increase in wage inequality. his class is about 50 minutes. prof. mccartin: welcome. of course i am joe mccartin increase -- in case anybody has forgotten. today, we're going to be talking about a period from 1968 to 1988 that i call "turnabout"
8:00 pm
ears. i come up with the title because of a historian that wrote about the 1930's. he called them "the turbulent years." the years of militancy and organizing we saw. these years were equally important to shaping 20th century working america, but in a different way. they were not years of upheaval, organization, and progress, so much as a big turnabout. a way in which the working american class took a turn to a different stage in its existence. we could say that from the 1930's to the 1970's was an experience of umbrella promise and expanding rights for workers. in the years between 1968 and 1988, a lot of that turned around. so, "turnabout years."
8:01 pm
i want to start with three stories that locate what is going on in this period, and talk about what's going on with the economy. talking about public-sector workers in the period, what they faced, and then conclude with some barometers of what's happening to working-class america by the end of this period. withgin, let me start three stories. i am going to locate these in 1977. roughly about halfway into the period we are talking about. 32 years with the conclusion of world war ii. much,2 years of, pretty american progress economically, at least into the early 1970's when workers saw their standard of living rising, and increasing opportunity. even increasing rights as we have seen, african-americans,
8:02 pm
and women when protections of their workplace rights for discrimination. into the mid-1970's it became clear that all was not necessarily well with the american working class. one way that you start to see this is expressed in the music and culture of this time. take, for example, what was a leading country in the western hit of 1977? you cannot turn on the radio without hearing this song. a singerrformed by with the perfect name, johnny paycheck. the song was called "take this job and shove it." i think it says a lot about what was going on in these years for many workers. i had been working in this the lyrics go, for 15
8:03 pm
years and i watched my woman drowned in a pool of tears. i have seen a lot of good folks die. i would give the shirt right off of my back if i had the guts to say, take this job and shove it. he goes on to talk about his foreman. boss thinks he is so cool. , "lord, i cannot wait to see their faces when i get the nerve to say, take this job and shove it." that was an experience a lot of people felt in many workplaces in this country. the angst of many workers in this time is expressed in those lines. the phrase "take this job and shove it" starts to take on interesting meanings in 1977.
8:04 pm
consider what was happening that year in atlanta, georgia. 1977, sanitation workers went out on strike in atlanta. it was an all african-american sanitation workforce. they were led by a fellow named lehman hood. there he is on the left with the president of their union. lehman hood had been marching in memphis with dr. martin luther king in 1968. in 1970 he had gone to atlanta and helped lead the organization of sanitation workers on strike. they ended up getting a union. and winning a pay increase as a result of that strike. by 1977 the progress had seemed to slow in atlanta. what was really ironic about it by 1977, the city had its first african-american mayor.
8:05 pm
jackson had been deputy mayor of atlanta in 1970. when that earlier strike had happened. he very courageously, in the middle of that strike he broke with his mayor. he said, you've got to help the sanitation workers, their wages are a disgrace before god. he helped to turn public opinion and helped win that strike for the strikers. he went on to become elected mayor in 1973. with the help of the union and with the help of the guy, lehman hood. once he became mayor of atlanta, he felt he needed to build support among the white business establishment of the city. it would look bad if he caved in to the demands of the city's workers, even the sanitation workers who has struggled over the years.
8:06 pm
their wages in 1977 were still poor. they went out on strike. jackson refused to negotiate with them. ultimatum.n you are to return to work in 72 hours, he said, or you lose your jobs, you are fired. hood was shocked. this was a guy he worked with. he proved true to his word. he did not return and he fired them. in the middle of this, to add insult to injury, the political establishment of the civil rights community, for the most part, sided with the mayor. martin luther king's father, nine years after he was assassinated helping sanitation workers, he felt that they strike might damage the first african-american mayor of atlanta. he came down hard against the strikers. he said publicly to maynard
8:07 pm
jackson, if they don't return to work, you should "fire the hell "ut of them. that is what jackson did. later the strike broke and they got their jobs back. it was clear that times were changing, and not necessarily in a good way. there is a protester being arrested during the strike against jackson's stand in atlanta. that is story one. story two. september, later, 1977. it was a monday in youngstown, ohio. ofngstown is just west pittsburgh. it had been a steelmaking center in a country. it was known as steel town usa. steel city usa as this postcard from the 1950's had it.
8:08 pm
in the years from the 1930's to the 1970's it had been a center of huge employment. people like johnny metzger, although he did not work in youngstown. it had been the site in the 1930's of struggle. the youngstown, sheet and tube plant in youngstown. workers used to have to go back and forth over this bridge to get into the plant back in the 1930's. when they finally organized the cio, one of the things they had them do was pay a penny, a toll to get in and out of work on this bridge. they said the hell with that toll. they formed a union, they lost a 1937, in 19 -- strike in but they got the union by 1941. they built it into a really good job to have.
8:09 pm
on when they arrived september 19, 1977, that morning, 5000 people to go to work, they were told without warning, we are closing down the plant. some of them had only recently graduated from high school. they look forward to working there as their parents had done, as their grandparents had done. and it waslid job suddenly gone. it had been known in youngstown as "black monday." it was not the end. within five years 50,000 jobs were lost around youngstown. in what had been a deep industrial part of the country, the heart of the steelmaking center of the country was being wiped out. 1977, atthat day in least symbolically. the third story.
8:10 pm
of 1977, the congress introduced, with the democratic party jimmy carter nine office, the bill. the labor reform act and it quickly passed the house. the past the house by october 1977. what was the bill being pushed through congress for? by 1977 it was becoming increasingly clear to people who supported the union's, that the wagner act and the national labor reunion act -- national labor union act no longer existed. they found no penalty in engaging in unfair labor practices. the number of charges that employers -- that were brought against employers for engaging in those practices were
8:11 pm
skyrocketing, of 400% between 1960 and 1980. the number of workers who were fired trying to form unions, up 300%. those who had to be reinstated and given back pay because it was proven the company illegally paid them, up 500%. the whole industry emerged of labor consultants who advised companies on how to pursue these policies, went to fire people. how to appeal it in the courts. how to get around the law. the bill was supposed to fix all that. it got to the house and ran into a brick wall in the senate. thedemocrats controlled senate, they controlled the house, they had a democratic president was that he would sign it, jimmy carter, but they could not overcome a filibuster in the senate. they could not get 60 votes and it died. in fact, there have been several to reformince them
8:12 pm
labor law. they have all failed. ofthe middle of this period this postwar boom that has lifted so many americans by the mid-1970's, something was happening. something disturbing that led to the events in atlanta, that led to the shutdown in youngstown, that led to the bottling up up any possibility of being able to modernize a labor law that was already 40 years old by then, and growing increasingly. america was entering a new period. two aspectslk about of this period. one is what started to happen to the economy is all of this was occurring. because the country started to go into a rapid economic reorganization. this was just a set of factors.
8:13 pm
i would say that five big things came together in the period between 1968 and 1988. a faithful convergence. the first of them is what happened to oil and gas prices, and how that led to a word that nobody had ever heard of before. and a concept that was alien to economists, even 20 or 30 years before. a concept called stagflation. what happened was this. 1973 a war took place between israel and some of its arab country neighbors. it is known as the yom kippur war. the u.s. supported israel in that war. in retaliation some arab member states had an organization of opec, the organization of petroleum exporting countries
8:14 pm
decided to embargo oil sales for the united states. this sent fuel prices skyrocketing. in a matter of weeks, in the fall of 1973, the country sought huge lines at gas stations -- saw huge lines at gas stations, rationing in many states, and stealing of gas out of each other's gas tanks by siphoning. that was how desperate some people were for gas. if you can make out that one and son it is a father saying, "gas dealers beware, we are loaded for bear in." he has a gun in his hand. this sense ofd to panic? for working-class america, there was nothing more symbolic of postwar prosperity than having your car, and the mobility that came with it.
8:15 pm
prices were making driving that car increasingly difficult. what that led to was a bigger economic phenomenon that we call stagflation. there were two oil shocks in the 1970's. the first happened in 1973. the second began in late 1978. what happened during the shocks is that prices skyrocketed at the same time that gmp growth plummeted. when gmp growth plummets that means unemployment goes up. here is what was weird about that. 1970's, it was a basic rule of economics that unemployment and inflation tended to balance each other out. when unemployment was up, that means workers were not spending would driveat prices down. unemployment up, prices down. if unemployment started to fall,
8:16 pm
that would push prices up as people had money, they had jobs. what happens when both rise simultaneously? that had never happened before. as you can see and these periods, that happened. it was given the name stagflation. it is hard to exaggerate the degree of disorganization and fear that that produced in many working-class households that were simultaneously fearing losing their jobs in this crisis. but also, at the same time, seeing prices rise. g impact.big, bi look at consumer changes over the years. there was a big inflation spike during the war and one right after. it then two big spikes in the 1970's. one time inflation got up above double digits. more than 10% increase in the cost of things on average over the course of a year.
8:17 pm
at the same time that was happening, unemployment was also high, as you see on this graph. senseed to a tremendous of being squeezed by many americans. was,coincided with that sudden stoptotal, in the growth of real wa ges. buy in a a dollarb person's paycheck? all through the years there is a continuous rise in that. the purchasing power of the american paycheck grew over time. you could buy more with it, but suddenly, boom, it flatlined. it even went down. the real average weekly earnings of workers suddenly made a downturn after 1973.
8:18 pm
what impacted that have on families? as you can see here, it meant incomemily medium started growing and basically flatlined. individual income was declining. family income was stagnant. by the way, what do you think accounts for that? if individual income was declining, shouldn't family income have been? transitioning from single breadwinner systems. prof. mccartin: exactly right. if you did not hear that, the transition to breadwinners. what families did in response to this is that they deployed women with children into the workplace faster. -- aple of the democratic couple of the consequences of was that women share in the paid labor force, it jumped by more in the 1970's than it had in any decade. cross the 50% mark for the first time.
8:19 pm
and it started to affect when people married and when they had children. people started to marry later. this might seem astonishingly young to you. in 1971, most women on average married at age 20. can you believe that? it had risen to 22 by 1981. men from 22-24. that still might seem young for you because it continues to go up. went upest reason that then was that people were uncertain about making the economic commitments necessary in this new environment. you have stagflation, you have stagnant incomes, then you have the beginnings of the phenomenon we have come to call globalization. it was beginning after world war ii. bombed thecally german economy, the japanese
8:20 pm
economy, but we helped rebuild those after the war. we also saw our companies become multinational, increasingly of vast -- invest abroad. 1971, for the first time the u.s. imported more than it exported. before theppening dislocations i mentioned in the 1970's. globalization much more real for people and a 1970's was the transformation that was happening in logistics. this is something that i think shapes all of our lives today. where you can order something from amazon and have it within a day. be datedat i think can to what began to happen in the 1970's with shipping containerization. changed, not much had in the way ships were loaded and
8:21 pm
between the 19th century and the 1960's. there were mostly loaded and unloaded by longshoremen who put boxes on pallets that were hauled up in a cargo net, deposited on the dock, or taken up from the dock and deposited in the hold where longshoremen would stack them in the hold of the ship. by the 1950's, a shipping entrepreneur named malcom mclean came up with the revolutionary idea. put all of the things that were made in a factory into a container at the factory, then put that container on the back of a truck or train, took it to a dock, put it in the ship, said the ship to where it was going, it was
8:22 pm
unloaded, then that same container was either put on a train or a truck and brought exactly to the location where it was needed, where the goods had been ordered? this would streamline shipping. that is what he did. he founded a company called sealand. he shipped his first container from new jersey to texas in 1956. u.s. tot one from the asia in 1968. it was really in the 1970's that containerization to cold. -- took hold. by 1980, 70% and plus of goods between the u.s. and europe were sent this way. 80% between the u.s. and asia. these giant ships, and if you are driving i-95 past baltimore, you see those big cranes that are meant to move those containers.
8:23 pm
what it did was completely shrink the globe. it made shipping so cheap to u.s.goods that suddenly, workers found themselves competing with workers around the globe, making things that could be shipped so cheaply it been a matter how far from the point of use that they were ultimately made. and began to happen response to that is the creation of global supply chains. supply chains that made use of and couldnologies assemble a global assembly-line. consider the automobile. the product that invented the assembly line, henry ford. before the 1970's, almost all the parts in the automobile assembled in the u.s. were made in the u.s..
8:24 pm
it could be made increasingly anywhere and could be brought here cheaply. once these global supply chains started to emerge, that really changed things. the way companies can make all of this logistical revolution work was in combination with other new technologies that also took off in the 1970's. satellite.cation that meant that a corporation could be in immediate contact with any of its contractors around the world. whichc code, the barcode, was developed in the 1970's and took off in the mid-1970's. they made it possible to scan an item in china, and immediately know in the u.s. when has it been loaded, where it was anywhere in the world, etc. and of course, the computer. the combination of those things changed the structure of the
8:25 pm
economy, and that was already going on by the mid-1970's. event happened. corporations began to change in some fundamental ways. the relationship to the financial market also began to change. change isy the first a change that i would call managerial capitalism, to one that i would call shareholder capitalism. change,xplaining that let me say a few things about what made it possible. the 1970's saw the intersection of three things occur. it made a financial revolution in the country possible. the first was that there was a tremendous increase in the pools thatpital in this country,
8:26 pm
were looking for an outlet, a place of investment to get returns. part of that was a result of the success of workers. they had won pension plans for themselves. part was a development of new entities like 401(k)s that were made. protective retirement investments made possible by legislation. suddenly, as huge piles of capitals developed, they can be used to leverage change in the structure of things. the second thing that occurred was that the stagflation of rising inflation had a big impact on how people with that capital thought about what kind of returns they wanted. before the 1970's, 4% or 5% of turns was good. you are happy with that. you're not happy if the inflation rate is 10%, 11%.
8:27 pm
suddenly there is an incentive to try to get greater returns on investment. that is preparing to change the and then a work, third thing, a new idea, an idea proposed by economist michael jensen and william mechling. had thethat i think find a shareholder capitalism. economists did in 1976 was looked at the way u.s. corporations were run and said, they are not getting the best return on investment. their corporate leaders are kind of lazy, and they are not doing the best for their stockholders. what we need is stockholders to be able to get more. we need corporate leaders to respond more to stockholders. that is what started to happen. one of the first executives who got this message, and who fully was a mant entirely
8:28 pm
who came to the leadership of ineral electric corporation 1941. his name was jack welsh. he gave a speech in 1981 at the pierre hotel in new york after becoming ge's ceo. he called it growing fast in a slow growth economy. what he said is, "there are things we can do to get those bigger returns." one of the things that he focused on in ge was downsizing. taking the company's payroll and shedding as much of it as he could. the more he shed, the more prices rose. 411,000ts payroll from down to under 300,000 in just five years under welsh. the revenues of the country
8:29 pm
below and at the same time. he developed a nickname in those days. it was after a weapon that the military was developing called the neutron bomb. when you dropped it on a city, and it exploded, it did not destroy any of the buildings, it just simply spread lethal radiation over everything. it killed people, but it left structures intact. this is what they said about is that he was like a neutron bomb for ge employees. they called him "neutron jack." he was popular. [laughter] prof. mccartin: he became a guru for the management people of his time. what's that tv show with alec altman. "-- alec baldwin. "30 rock." character tries
8:30 pm
to emulate that. that was the thing to do in the 1980's, manager company that way. as that was happening, as people like welch were redefining the corporation may actually began to change the form of american corporations. you can look over the 20th century and say there were three different models of corporate types that existed. at the beginning of the century it was a model of "bigger is better." a model of vertically and horizontally integrating a corporation. buying up as many competitors as you could. buying up the upstream and downstream so you had the most market control. that is what u.s. steel did. it was founded in 1901. it was that kind of company that gave rise to managerial capitalism. evidence of
8:31 pm
managerial capitalism? remember how the u.s. responded in 1935 to the cio? does anybody remember? well, not quite. anybody? it's ok, it's been a week, were a couple. [laughter] prof. mccartin: they recognized the union without a strike. they did not want to go through what gm went through. the corporate leaders felt free to do that. they did not feel pressure from their stockholders that said don't do that. there was no stockholder backlash. they ran the company as they saw fit. they were not worried about what the markets thought. it probably proved to be a good decision. model and that was ascended up into the 1960's.
8:32 pm
the postwar era started to change. instead of integrating within your sector, companies began to diversify and buy up things outside of their sector. conglomerate. it was on the rise between the 1950's and the 1980's. u.s. steel joined the parade. in 1981 they bought marathon oil. it had nothing to do with the steel business, but they thought it was a good sideline for the company. they even changed their name to u.s. x when they did that. you had the rise of a conglomerate. what happened as a result of the market revolution is that a third model starts. it really dates to the 1970's. what we might call the lien corporation. once people started to think about how you get more returns on investment, how you bump up stock prices, they began to look at those conglomerates and believe that they were worth more in pieces than they were as a whole. that the whole was less than the
8:33 pm
sum of the parts. people begin to move in to sell off parts of these conglomerates to drive up prices, to shed part of the labor force. one company that modeled this was a shipping company. it bought youngstown sheet and tube in 1969. after it did that it basically used youngstown sheet and tube to suck capital out of it to do other things. steelreinvested in the furnaces of the company. then ultimately decided it made more sense to shut it down than to keep it running. youngstown was still profitable at the time it was shut down in 1979. but they started to do better by moving that capital elsewhere. increasingly, that's what we started to see. with that came new tools, and a
8:34 pm
new approach on wall street on how to run companies. something newof called private equity firms. there were giant pulls of capital in which partners would their pensionle funds to give them a big hunk of capital and promise big returns. big capital that private equity leaders would buy up, break them apart and sell them. often making a lot of money. in the process, usually laying off a lot of people. leveragedhis was buy-outs that happened when companies had to borrow a lot in order to buy up new companies. they often did it against the wishes of the management companies they were buying, called "hostile takeovers."
8:35 pm
that led to a phenomenon between 1987 and 1981. 500of the u.s. fortune downsized, shedding about 500 million jobs. we talked about the kelly girl -- 5 million jobs. we talked about the kelly girl. she was flexible, you could get rid of her. idea startedthis to represent more workers in corporate america. the declining employment of the top 500 industrial corporations, they were all shrinking in these years. a final thing happened as the economy changed. that was, a new ideology started to gather strength in the country. what we could call neoliberalism. influential most person was the nobel prize
8:36 pm
winner, milton friedman. milton friedman was a critic of the new deal. critic of government regulation, of liberalism, of unions, and basically believed that private markets, unregulated markets were better at everything been government was. he became increasingly influential in the 1970's. he had a weekly column in newsweek. authored a huge book called "free to choose." that became a very influential book in its time. so influential where ideas like his, that they also affected how democrats thought. it was under the carter administration that neo- liberal idea started to spread.
8:37 pm
trucking in 1980. the banking industry in 1980 as well. the thing about airlines and trucking is that they were highly regulated before this. that is the rates they could charge, the fares they could charge on the airlines. the governments had a say in all of that. it was not necessarily great for consumers. and what friedman argued was that competition without regulation with the to lower fares. that did happen for a while until airline's started to consolidate and collude to try to prevent it. what it really hurt was workers. under regulation, their companies were not competing so hard. they were able to protect their pay standards, that became hard to do. a huge transformation was happening between 1968 and 1988 in the structure of the economy and how it worked.
8:38 pm
that transformation has huge implications for working people. that is the private sector. let shift and talk about government work, government employees. because they are the story was with theg turnabout situation that workers were facing. coming out of the 1960's the public sector union movement was surging. inspired by things like the memphis sanitation strike. postal workers engaged in a wildcat strike nationally. perhaps over 100,000 people participated in it, not delivering the mail. new legislation that allowed the postal service to become the usps now, a semi-governmental body, and for postal workers to have the ability to bargain over things. that came from that strike.
8:39 pm
public-sector unionism into the early 1970's kept expanding. it was growing. even as private-sector unionism was the climbing. this is the public sector. in fact, a greater percentage of public sector workers were in unions by the mid-1970's than private-sector workers. they ran into a brick wall in the 1970's because of economic changes. was a real turning point for workers in the public sector. it was that year that the stagflation of the 1970's really hit home, in the place of new york city especially. where public workers had done the most to win rights, to bargain collectively, to improve their situation. suddenly new york was in the middle of a crisis. when stagflation happened, that
8:40 pm
meant prices soared, that meant the price of everything a city had to buy soared. the economy dipped. that meant tax revenues dipped. governments were paying more and bringing in less. boom, what do you do? workers were caught in the vice very quickly. and the federal government refused to help new york. the mayor appealed to then president jerry ford for help. this was ford's answer in the famous front page new york daily news. "dropdead: you are on your own new york." you made your bed, you have to find your own way to get out of it. what happened was that massive layoffs had to get out in new york. that caused turmoil. police, fire, sanitation workers were laid off. many of them engaged in protest in a result of that. distributing this
8:41 pm
leaflet called "welcome to fear airports and ports authority and train depots. basically saying, we are being laid off here. maybe you want to think about going somewhere else on vacation. trash began to pile up in the city. bitterness develops between public sector workers in the government, which had been more and less aligned with them before that. by the mid-1970's there was clearly a problem. by the way, how did new york get out of that crisis? in part, the unions did it. the teachers union and the city's largest union of municipal workers. leaders, theynion used the union pension funds to buy municipal bonds that would help to keep the city afloat.
8:42 pm
it made it through the crisis, but everybody after that crisis new that things were different and there were going to be far more austere from that point going forward. that crisis also open the door to a campaign that began to gather steam as the 1970's moved on. to privatize the public are. one of the people who had been calling for this for a while was one of the nations premiere of economists in 1969. he wrote a book called "the age of discontinuity." it included a chapter called "the sickness of government." what he said is that there is mounting evidence that the government is big rather than strong. it is too big. we need to downsize it. we need to take government services and find a way to use a market to deliver them, privatize them. changing,dustry was
8:43 pm
so too was pressure on government to change. how did public sector workers deal with this? they did not like it a bit. they knew the pressure was coming after them. they tried to push back against it in the late 1970's. you could see the number of strikes occurring in the country continued to grow in this period. as the austerity regime was clamped down on workers, workers tried to push back against it. they were not getting much help from washington either. they wanted to reform the hatch act, the federal law that restricted what federal workers could do to be involved in politics. they also hoped to pass a civil service reform act that would give them the ability to bargain, federal workers to bargain over their pay. they were not allowed to do that. frustration was building.
8:44 pm
this really was something you could see when you look at the nation's air traffic controllers. i ended up writing a book about this because i thought it was really a symbolically important group. and what happened to them symbolized what happened to many workers in this period. i want to talk about the professional air traffic controllers organization, or pat co. it was made up of men like this. this is a picture of air traffic controllers working on a radar screen in 1960. this was taken in you are in a hangar, a hanger called hangar 11 at jfk where they monitored old equipment, planes going in and out of new york. it was in that hager, a disk -- a december day in 1960, a terrible mistake was made because of bad equipment. they had a mid air collision over new york, killing many.
8:45 pm
them are -- the workers who were involved in that effort said we have to end this. they were complaining for a long time about the outdated nature of their equipment. those kinds of radar things literally came off of battleships. there were old-fashioned and not up to the task. [standby] prof. mccartin: from the bronx, they said, together, let's organize and they started to form a union. with the help of president kennedy's executive order in 1962. they eventually formed a union
8:46 pm
by 1968 called patco, but they could not really bargain with the federal government. they were not recognized initially. they started to push back against what they felt were unsafe procedures by slowing down their work. picture inmagazine 1968 right after they formed the unit. they engaged in something called "operation air safety." of how went by the book the instruction manual told them they should be working. that slowed everything down. they said, we will not speed up until you improve our jobs. they won recognition of their union and their first contract by 1973. this is their union president meeting with richard nixon. here are some of the union leaders. over the course of the 1970's they found they were unable to change things. they determined that when their
8:47 pm
next contract expired, which would be in 1981, that they would strike if they had to to change the situation. these were buttons they started to wear by 1980 on the job. they knew their contract would expire. i'm going, that means i am going to strike. this is a headset controllers used to wear. they were ready to strike a blow for unity. gotten no real help from the carter administration so they gambled. they decided to endorse carter's opponent, ronald reagan. -- theyught in reagan wrote a letter to him, they said -- he said i will help you if i'm elected. they found they did not get what they wanted and they did go on strike.
8:48 pm
1981, they went out on strike in airports and all overt centers the country. they froze air-traffic for some days. what reagan did is exactly what maynard jackson did in atlanta in 1977. he said you have 72 hours to return to work, if you don't, you're fired. they did not return. they thought the country cannot possibly operate without them. they were fired. they were replaced. it took years to get the system back up to speed, but the government had the resources to do that. it constituted a huge turning point. , to bring this around to a close, a huge number of changes had occurred. the economy, the power of public sector workers. all this had begun to change
8:49 pm
rather rapidly. by the 1980's and in the aftermath of the patco strike, you could see that some important barometers were measuring danger for working people. -- workers found that they could not strike anymore effectively. patco was a federal strike. patco workers did not have a right to strike. in the private sector, even where they could strike, many felt that if the president could fire strikers, why don't we just replaced them? that is what began to happen. in strikes like the phelps-dodge strike in 1983. remember jack metzger in the 19 -- 1950's. strikes were common. there were a measure of working-class power and the ability of workers to get thanks from their employers.
8:50 pm
all those strikes happened with a president on the books that dated back to the 1930's that strike forworkers higher wages, employers can replace them if they want. most employers did not do that before the 1980's. all of those strikes in the 1950's, there were very few efforts by employers to beat those strikes. started to be brought into effect. when copper miners went into strike in arizona, the national guard was called out to break the strike. meat.strikes by hormel international paper workers, greyhound bus drivers, they were all broken. as worker saw strike after strike broken, you saw the number of workers and strikes sharply diminishing. as worker saw they really did not have the power to strike anymore. that led to a second thing.
8:51 pm
when workers no longer had the power to force their employers todeal with them, what began happen is that productivity and wages begin to diverge. alter the postwar period. workers were able to ensure that if they became more productive, their wages would rise with their productivity. after 1973 that changes. productivity kept rising. compensation stagnated. workers did not have the power to force companies to do anything about that. what did this lead to? a final thing. saw post 1981 period increasing inequality in the country. it started to recapitulate something that started before the great depression. inequality was on the rise.
8:52 pm
, all of this happen in the turnabout years from 1968 to 1988. now just a final thought. i talked about the things that were happening in 1977 in rurala, in youngstown, in mexico something else happened. eduardoboy named gutierrez was conceived. andill be reading about him talking about him in the book that we will discuss when you return. what you will see is that his family was starting to be affected by the same things. these things would bring him to this country. and how his story intersects with this larger story is something we will see that deeply speaks to us in our time. ok. thank you, very much. [applause]
8:53 pm
[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> you can watch "lectures in history" every week on american history tv. we take you inside college class rooms to learn about topics ranging from the american revolution to 9/11. that saturday at 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern on c-span3. in the early 20th century, the international ladies garment workers union was the largest women's union in the world. it pushed to improve benefits for women in the clothing industry, and inspired union action and other professions across the country. next on american history tv, a look at the challenges this union faced in fighting for worker rights, and the role of minority women in the garment industry.

52 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on