Multinational Monitor

JUL/AUG 2001
VOL 22 No. 7


Toxics on the Hudson: The Saga of GE, PCBs and the Hudson River
by Charlie Cray

Global Management By Stress
by Robert Weissman

Penny Pinching the Retirees at GE
by Vincent Lloyd

GE: Decades of Misdeeds and Wrongdoing
by Monitor Staff


Slowing the Race to the Bottom
an interview with
Ed Fire

Dignity and Defiance
an interview with
John Hovis

“Any Cost” is Too High
an interview with
Thomas O’Boyle

Unfair Access
an interview with
Jeff Cohen

GE Can Be Beat
an interview with
Kathryn Mulvey


Behind the Lines

You Don’t Know Jack

The Front
Spoiled Lunch - Deadly Drilling in Aceh

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Names In the News


The Case Against GE

Toxics on the Hudson: The Saga of GE, PCBs and the Hudson River

by Charlie Cray

Back in 1976, Jack Welch negotiated a settlement with the state of New York, which limited the General Electric (GE) corporation’s responsibility for polluting the Hudson River to $3 million. Welch’s hard-nosed negotiating style gained the attention of top executives, launching his meteoric rise to the top of the company. GE executives probably hoped the deal would bury the issue forever, and that everyone concerned about the PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) lying on the bottom of the river would let nature take its course.

But persistent concerns about the PCB contamination have caused the Environmental Protection Agency to study the issue on a continuous basis since the site was listed on the nation’s Superfund priority site list in the early 1980s. Finally, on December 6, 2000, after 16 years of studies, proposals and more studies, EPA announced a 5-year plan to dredge 2.65 million cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediment along a 40-mile stretch of the river below two old GE factories in Hudson Falls and Fort Edward. The proposed dredging project would remove 100,000 pounds of PCBs from various high-concentration hot spots. MORE>>

Global Management By Stress

by Robert Weissman

For two decades, Chief Executive Officer Jack Welch has pushed General Electric to operate at the extremes. For workers, Welch’s pedal-to-the-metal approach has meant job flight, outsourcing, tense relations on the factory floor and a constant worry that their job, or their entire factory, might be gone tomorrow.

More than a decade ago, labor analysts Jane Slaughter and Mike Parker began describing the introduction of Japanese work management schemes in U.S. factories as “management by stress.” The idea of the schemes was, and is, to stretch production arrangements so as to eliminate any slack. Under this approach, Slaughter and Parker explained, all workers should be working their hardest, all the time, and the standard of what constitutes hard work should constantly be elevated. MORE>>

Slowing the Race to the Bottom

an interview with Ed Fire

Ed Fire is the President of IUE-CWA, the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers –– Communications Workers of America, the Industrial Division of CWA, which represents 180,000 active and retired workers. A lifelong union activist, Fire joined IUE in 1958. He became president of IUE in 1996, and has been a member of the Executive Council of the national AFL-CIO since 1996. In 2000, he was the architect of the IUE-CWA merger. MORE>>

Unfair Access

an interview with Jeff Cohen

Jeff Cohen is the founder of Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), a national media watch group based in New York. He is the author of a number of books, including Wizards of Media Oz: Behind the Curtain of Mainstream News, co-authored with Norman Solomon. He is also a weekly panelist on NewsWatch, which airs on the Fox News Channel. MORE>>

GE Can Be Beat

an interview with Kathryn Mulvey

Kathryn Mulvey is the Executive Director of Infact. Since 1977, Infact has been exposing life-threatening abuses by transnational corporations and organizing grassroots campaigns to hold corporations accountable to consumers and society at large. From the Nestlé Boycott of the 1970s and 1980s over infant formula marketing to today’s boycott of Kraft Foods –– owned by tobacco giant Philip Morris –– Infact organizes to win concrete changes in corporate policy and practice. MORE>>

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