Thursday, July 07, 2005

A Crime Against the Collective Consciousness

London

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Closing the Plant

I've recently been on hiatus from the blog due to working my 9 to 5 this summer (just more evidence that I am destined for academia where I can make my own hours). However, last night my Dad told me a really sad story, that is worthy of a blog.

My father worked for most of my life in a large plastics plant in Connecticut. About eight years ago, he went into business for himself. He told me that yesterday, some of his old friends from the plant stopped by the business to tell him that the plant was closing. They gave the employees the 5th off with pay, and then told them they were out of a job. No warning, just a meeting attended by everyone at the plant...and the local police. Some of my Dad's friends had worked there for over thirty years. No deals, no early retirement, just laid off.

I asked my Dad if the workers had a union, and he said no. Surely, if they had representatives, the abrupt closing of the plant would not have happened. They would have had some notice, or some form of severance pay. I understand that from a purely economic standpoint, the company probably found the plant expensive to keep open, and it may have been losing money. The cost of living in Connecticut is high, so opening a plant down south or offshore is more cost-efficient. But the people who put years into this job, figuring they'd retire from the plant are now jobless, with their age working against them in an already competitive job market. Even if the plant was losing money, it is owned by one of the wealthiest companies in the world (whose name I'll omit for the purpose of the blog). I cannot believe the company did not have the money to compensate its workers at all.

While I am not very theory savvy, after hearing this story, I can begin to understand what Marx is talking about. The working class is powerless against the bourgeois unless they unite. As long as there is competition for jobs, and people willing to work for less and less money, with no union representation, the worker will continue to be exploited. I want to go further with this, but I feel somewhat under-qualified...anyone want to help? Possibly a fellow blogger who is teaching theory this summer whose name begins with an E?