March 26th, 2019
Taking a close, insider’s, look at Chicago’s industrial Southeast Side in the 1970’s and early 1980’s offers us lessons of a period brought forward to our current moment, when talking heads and politicians spout off about middle class values and middle class jobs and the way to make America great…again. What today’s show makes clear is that there’s no “middle” in America, just a great mass of exploited labor fed the dream of ease if only they’d just work a bit harder, and a bit longer.
My guest is Dave Ranney, who from 1976 to 1982, worked at several factory jobs in Southeast Chicago and Northwest Indiana, after leaving the far less dangerous work of being an urban planning professor in Iowa. Ranney’s day-to-day life on the factory floor is punctuated by spontaneous wildcat strikes over management abuses, an immigration raid, industrial accidents, a failed effort to unionize and a murder. He details this in his new book, Living and Dying on the Factory Floor: From the Outside In and the Inside Out, newly published by PM Press.