Depressions, mental and economic

Scott Marshall Scott at
Mon Jul 3 06:47:46 MDT 1995

This is also true in smaller samplings. IE: I was a griever at Pullman
Standard in Chicago when it began it's plant shutdown in the late 1970's.
There were dramatic increases in every category you mention except, (at
least to my knowledge) prison admissions.

Also other stressful changes in the work pattern can cause these problems.
In the early 1970's I worked at Ferro Fiberglas in Nashville which made raw
fiberglass weave, matting etc for the auto industry. Not to get into the
particulars of the production process, but it is a lot like steelmaking in
that the plant ovens and the 'heats' must be operated 24 hours a day, 7 days
a week. The only way to cover such an operation is with a rotating shift
pattern which, in our case, meant working seven days on the day turn then
one day off, then seven days on the midnight turn (11pm to 7am) and then two
days off, then seven days on the afternoon turn (3pm to 11pm)and then four
days off, called the long weekend. (BTW I worked this for 7 years, was in my
twenties and it was a killer, but I knew many who had worked it for 20 to 30
years all the way up to retirement.) I was union steward and dealt with a
lot of cases based on alcoholism, drug abuse, divorces etc etc. A company VP
once told me that the problems were due to the declining moral fiber of US
workers who "just couldn't compete with really hungry, aggresive workers in
other countries who really wanted to do better for their families.)

I was on the negotiating committee and we researched the effects of this
shift pattern compared to regualar straight shifts and found a much elevated
risk of all the factors that you mentioned, again except prison, which we
may not have considered, I don't remember. Also we found good studies that
showed the same kind of increases with prolonged overtime ie: working 10
hour shifts for several months in a row etc. Thus even just lengthening the
work day can cause the same problems.


Thinking about Ferro reminds me of another post by Jerry. You said something
about an auto plant you worked in and the level of anti communism. On that
score Ferro was and interesting place too.

I was well known as the Red in the plant. I was able to start a party club
of 8 workers and we also had a 'Free Angela Davis committee' in the shop
that was very active as part of the Nashville committee. There was a group
of rightwingers who actively redbaited and snitched to the company as much
as possible - but even so I was elected and re-elected on rank and file
slates several times to several union positions as a known Communist.

Ferro was a place that a lot of 'New Left' colonizers tryed their hand at.
Because while the core of the workforce was very stable, some of the entry
level jobs had big turnovers because the work was very hard and very hot.
You worked around huge ovens heated to very high temperatures. They (the
colonizers) never had too much success. And I think their failure was due to
a couple of factors. Like most colonizers they were not prepared for the
kind of work we did, nor for making a long term commitment. They would make
a lot of 'revolutionary' noise, try to organize a study group and give up in
six months to a years in disgust with the 'backwards' workers. I'm sure many
figured the workers were hopelessly anti-communist because they didn't jump
at their 'salvation'.

The FBI visited the plant and tryed to get me fired the first couple of
years, but the union blocked it. A friend in the office overheard several of
the discussions, and said the FBI would come in about every 6 months and try
and reopen the issue. When they finally got rid of me due to layoffs (heavy
automation) the plant personel director told me 'I'd never work in the
industry again.' Pretty good indication of where the real anti-communism was
coming from.


>When unemployment goes up (as of course happens during economic
>depressions), we can observe a increase in suicides and admissions to
>mental hospitals!  Also increasing with unemployment: admissions to state
>prisons, homicides (i.e. crime), deaths due to liver cirrhosis (due to
>increased alcohol abuse) and fatal heart attacks and strokes (increased
>stress).  Some other social indicators also increase with unemployment
>such as increased divorce rates, spousal abuse, child abuse, etc.
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