The Multinational Monitor


F R O M   O U R   R E A D E R S


The magazine has shown great improvement over the last two issues. The February layout is a big improvement. I like the move to longer, more in-depth articles. This is more important to me than focusing on one region per issue. Longer articles mean fewer of them, but I see this as an advantage: the magazine now has more coherence, and I am developing a better grasp of the overall impact of MNC's than with the former, more scatter-shot approach.

Whereas before I was attracted to the magazine for the idea of what it was doing, now I think the job is starting to be done well.

Keep it up.

- Will Sigfried
Oneonta, New York

Exxon t-shirts

Thank you for the Exxon t-shirts you sent me - they are superb, a pleasure and an honor to wear in a wide variety of circumstances.

- Brian Palmer
Cambridge, Massachusetts

No to "de-industrialization"

I think the February 1983 issue of Multinational Monitor is excellent. I was glad to be able to read some facts about "de-industrialization," "down-sizing," etc. Terms like these are being loosely used and half-way accepted as already accomplished facts by many, who seem willing-even eager-to write off the entire manufacturing base of the U.S. economy. This is an issue of vital importance and I hope (the) Monitor will keep on top of it.

- Mildred Bowen
Vallecito, California

More Japan coverage

I have found your publication to be very informative and worthwhile; however I have also found it to be somewhat lacking in scope. More specifically, although you list many Japanese multinationals among some of the biggest in the world I have yet to see any articles published in your magazine about Japanese multinationals. Please try to include them in the future - particularly with reference to their activities in the Americas, including the United States.

- H. Reid McKeen
Eighth U.S. Army Engineers

We will be giving more coverage to Japan and Japanese multinationals in the future (in addition to our last issue, February 1983). In the next few months we will be publishing a study of Japanese companies in the U. S. and their relations with American unions.

Union 'minority' should work with the unorganized

Curiously, your article in the February 1983 MM, "The human cost of `deindustrialization'," is printed under the caption "editorial," although it is a compendium of the views of others and does not express your editorial opinions except by inference. Your offer of remedies is also oblique, lamenting the lack of "public input" in "decisions by multinational corporations and banks..." As to a long-range solution, you rest your case by quoting UAW's Frank Wallick that "It's a terrible condemnation of capitalism," without offering a substitute "ism."...

Our [economic] problems ... have been made worse by the practice of workers in temporarily privileged positions, such as auto, electrical, steel, energy, wood construction, clothing and others who sought to retain their favored treatment under the banner of "I'm all right, Jack." They fortified themselves behind "Maginot lines" of union contracts and stored behind those "impregnable" walls all the "goodies" they could amass for themselves to the exclusion of, and often at the expense of, the 80% of American tax-paying, wage-earning consumers, and with total disregard of the consequences to the people of the Third World.

The obvious error of the unions in the U.S. was that during their halycon days they did not enlist the unorganized wageearners in the political effort to legislate job security, retraining, universal apprenticeship and internship, paid vacations, holidays and sick-leave, adequate unemployment and retirement pay and so forth, as basic rights under national law. Instead, they chose the dog-in-the-manger approach.

It is not too late for the unions to correct their past errors by now intensifying their political action for universal protection of all wage-earners in conjunction with the unorganized, to enact into law all those things I mentioned above which "the corporation giveth and the corporation taketh away," even to the point of advocating an amendment to the Constitution to guarantee a job or a minimum wage to every person seventeen years or older who is able and willing to work... (The) 20%a and shrinking segment (of the labor movement) should form an alliance with the 80%, get them to formulate what they need, what they want and how to get it by lobbying, demonstrating, voting and keeping constant tabs on every elected and appointed official.

It seems to me this is a better way to a balanced economic democracy under our political democracy than for a minority of unions to take on the multinationals and the banks, who by the negligence of the labor movement, become a majority in alliance with the 80% of the wage-earners whom the present labor leaders spurn.

- Maurice Forge Freeport
New York

The purpose of my February piece on deindustrialization was to lay out the parameters of the current debate about U. S. industrial policy and to indicate the kinds of issues I will stress as editor of Multinational Monitor.

I agree with Forge that organized labor in the U.S. has been overly concerned with protecting the privileges of a narrow sector of the American work force - namely white male skilled workers. I also agree that the labor movement has been quite myopic in regard to U.S. policy in the Third World. The AFL-CIO's unconscionable support for the war in Vietnam and its muted criticisms of current U.S. policy in Central America are unfortunate examples.

But the faults of the American labor movement must be seen in the context of history. The eight hour day, the right to. form industrial unions, a minimum wage law, and health and safety rules were won only after long, hard battles led by the labor movement. While there are still many battles to be fought, these earlier struggles paved the way for better conditions for all American workers.

It is also true that during the "halycon " postwar period of rapid economic expansion, labor's demands for higher wages and better working conditions were compatible with corporate needs - and tended to be somewhat narrow in scope. But bit by bit, as the corporations and banks found greener pastures in Third World countries, the hard-fought gains of the labor movement were eroded.

Corporate leaders now seem to be saying to the labor movement: "Well, you were useful for a while, but we don't need you anymore. " Without the barest expression of gratitude for labor's contributions to society, they are closing hundreds of plants and promising the unemployed that they will eventually find work in high technology. but as the recent departure of the California-based Atari electronics plant to Hong Kong tells us, this promise is an illusion.

Forge is right when he says the U.S. labor movement must work with the unorganized and other groups left out of the so-called "American dream. " But in singling out the "negligence of the labor movement" as a major cause of our economic problems, I think he, in effect, blames the victim - and misses the point of my editorial: multinational corporations are still accountable to no one but themselves.

- T.S.

Table of Contents