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Roger & Me

            It has been fourteen years since General Motors laid off 33,000 people and inspired Michael Moore's documentary "Roger & Me." However, many things have yet to change in terms of worker conditions. Perhaps workers have more benefits than they did previously, but in Flint, Michigan today, they are battling some of the same problems they did in 1988. I do not particularly think that conditions have gotten any better since this incident. .
             General Motors was established in Flint, Michigan in 1908. However, in the late 1980's, GM president Roger Smith decided to close down some of the plants in Flint and laid off some 33,000 people. This act damaged the city of Flint for many years since most of the city was employed by GM. Although there was a Union, many people thought it inadequate, due to the belief that the people in the Union were becoming too cozy with the upper management, and employees were losing power. To describe the conditions of the city, there were blocks upon blocks of abandoned businesses with boarded up windows. A large portion of the city moved away, and others were quickly being evicted, as many as 24 evictions a day. People were resorting to desperate measures, such as a woman who sold "Bunnies for pets, Rabbits for meat." The city turned into one of the largest crime zones in the country, and was forced to build a new jail. However, these conditions helped various other businesses. UHaul, for instance, had a constant waiting list for trucks, and the Post Office was kept busy with the many changing addresses. .
             Oddly enough, GM was going through a very similar situation in 1998, a good ten years later. Once again, Flint, Michigan was facing the threat of plants closing. For half of a year, the company and its workers had been struggling with issues such as safety and health, speeding up productivity lines, etc. Senator Paul D. Wellstone remarked, "GM's hard-line stance and labor-war tactics endanger the livelihoods of tens of thousands of workers in the automotive industry and in the industries that rely on auto production for their business.

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