END OF THE LINE by Richard & Michael Betzold Feldman


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Cries and whispers from working America. To compile this oral history of interviews with employees at the Michigan Truck Plant of the Ford Motor Company, Feldman, a social activist who worked at the plant for 16 years, collaborated with Betzold, a writer for the Detroit Free Press. This is a pessimistic work meant as a salvo against corporate America, particularly the auto industry (which has seen its share of America's car sales drop from 80% to 30% in the past 30 years). From its opening two paragraphs--juxtaposing Ford's report of another quarter of record profits with an assembly worker at Ford's Michigan Truck Plant found hanging from a roof beam--to its final pages--suggesting a future of crumbling cities, failed schools, dissolving communities, and dying children--the authors present a gloomy scenario of minimum-wage workers servicing an elite minority of high-paid fortunates. The voices included here are divided into various symbolic groups. They include ""Team Players,"" who believe in company-employee cooperation; ""the Disenchanted,"" who disbelieve both company and union; ""the Renegades,"" who are action-oriented proponents of a changing society; ""the Battle-weary,"" who have given up the good fight; ""the Breadwinners,"" whose only interest is in making as much money as possible; ""the Pressured,"" who are bent on surviving the hassles of the work-a-day world; ""the Union Advocates,"" who seek ways of refitting old union principles into the demands of the New Age, and ""the Sages,"" who berate union advocates for having let selfishness and materialism irreparably dilute their principles. A well-done oral history, informative and illuminating--though, overall, quite depressing.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1988
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson