South Bend: Tragedy at Studebaker

South Bend: Tragedy at Studebaker

The nine workers standing semicircle in the entranceway of UAW Local 5 in South Bend were neither angry nor dour. The full shock of their new status as permanent alumni of the Studebaker Company had not yet hit them. Still  another paycheck would come next week and, after that, there would be $36-a-week unemployment compensation for twenty-six weeks.

There was about them, however, a mood of bewilderment and unreality, such as one notes at the wake of a man who died before his time.

One worker, perhaps 55, was discussing his Blue Cross. For 15 years he had felt secure against a siege of sickness. A health and welfare plan, negotiated by his union, and to which he contributed $1.84 a week, provided for hospital care, surgical benefits, and life insurance. He wasn’t sure now whether he was still protected. “If I have to take Blue Cross, that’ll cost me $16 a month,” he said. “Maybe I won’t even be able to get it.”

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