We are seeing the wanton gutting of the nation’s heavy industrial plant. This tragic waste of blue-collar jobs and working-class lives will not cease as long as we allow government to abet the sacrifice of production facilities to the momentary needs of private cash flow. Without greater social control of capital, horror stories like this one from South Chicago will become ever more commonplace.
Some 3,500 steelworkers in South Chicago (Chicago’s far South Side) were notified, as they collected their weekly paychecks last March 28, that their mill would close indefinitely that day. They were workers at the Wisconsin Steel Works, one of America’s oldest and most successful specialty steel-rolling mills. True, their mill had been sold by the International Harvester Company to an undercapitalized affiliated concern, Envirodyne, Inc., some months earlier. Yes, the long strike at Harvester had cut deeply into orders for bar stock, spring steel, and plowshares, but now the strike was settled. Although in need of some modernization, the mill was sound. Hadn’t the federal government guaranteed the operation of Envirodyne’s managers with a $90 million loan, much of it still unspent? Why had the worke...
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