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Men Needed at Bethlehem Steel
when corporations needed and wanted workers in America
Me neither.

Apparently neither did good benefits, healthcare, life insurance for families and on the job training or other sensible business practices which attracted and kept good workers productive.

Nor did "big" government spending on infrastructure expansion or education. The Cold War and Defense spending was also a part of the economic engine of course. So was the "space race." A lot of the engineers and scientists who made all of the previous possible were educated via the GI Bill. Damn that Socialism!

I grew up in Bethlehem PA. Born just months before this ad was run. My dad started working in the plant at 21 after having to marry my mom because of my arrival.  He worked night shift, while going to Lehigh University to become an engineer. He continued to work in the plant for 13 more years as a foreman during the golden years of "the steel." He was able to later become a salesman for the company and made decent money. He sent my brother and I to a top boarding school and on to college. Myself to an Ivy. All that and retire after 30 years at only 53. He lived comfortably on his pension and savings until social security kicked in, which he mostly just saved too. Aside from spending top dollar on our education, he and my mother lived frugally all their lives and taught us the value of thrift as well. When he passed on suddenly at 75, from Rapid Onset Alzheimer's, he left us a surprising portfolio of investments, bank accounts, and other assets, none of us knew he had.

Contrast all that with the situation we're in today. Especially the situation our bright young people are in.

Bethlehem Steel is gone now. For many here that's still impossible to believe. There are a lot of differing opinions about what killed it. You can search the web if you're interested. I can't and don't want to write a book about it today. My goal today is simply to highlight in a very real tangible way that Republican/Conservative ideas and policies and everything they tell us is Total Bullshit.

This country began to decline when Ronald Reagan was elected. The decline acclerated as more and more Conservative Movement policies were implemented and began to effect the economy and our country's standard of living negatively. Then George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and the Neo-Cons took the decline into hyperdrive.

These are demonstrable facts.

Why can't people grasp this reality any more?

(note on the image: this was emailed to me by one of the still activist steelworkers union guys. its a scan of an old local paper ad. I hope it is public domain by now, but if not, and there is a problem with posting it, please let me know and I will remove it. the diary sort of doesn't make sense without it though...)

For an insider's look at what it was like for the people who worked 'down the Steel' in its golden years please see my ongoing diary posts from my father's brilliant memoir titled: "The 28 Inch Mill."

Thank you for your interest,
Stanley R. Frantz II

Originally posted to srfRantz on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 07:50 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

    no man is completely worthless, he can always be used as a bad example.

    by srfRantz on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 07:50:03 AM PST

  •  My husband grew up in Hellertown. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat, srfRantz, JayRaye

    And from what his dad has said I understand that the management ruined the company along with Reagan letting in cheap steel from Japan.

    •  Dad told me the same thing (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JayRaye, beaky

      as do most all the ex-steelworkers and even office guys I know around here.

      The company and the workers finally came together on that one, they saw the handwriting on the wall. Both lobbied as strong as they could to get Reagan to put a tariff on the cheap Japanese steel. He just wouldn't do it. I still wonder why. best guess is it was payback to break the unions, not just steel but across the heavy industry that was America's backbone, thus throwing more power to the financial industry...(which worked pretty good for them didn't it?) but steel was the first to fall. and fall big.

      there was a long strike in the early 60s that is often given as another cause of the japanese steel first getting a foothold in the market. the strike caused the construction industry to look elsewhere to keep projects going and were pleased with the quality and price. it's said that the American steel industry never got back its share of the market after it was settled. and there is some truth to the claims that the Union was asking for the moon in those days just because they could get it, which I think was in itself payback for what they (and their parents especially) had to go thru to get recognized. the adversarial relationship between labor and management was still not a healthy relationship and things soured economically before they could both learn they needed each other.

      very sad in so many ways...

      no man is completely worthless, he can always be used as a bad example.

      by srfRantz on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 11:00:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I REMEMBER.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat, JayRaye

    And, I'm also mad.  NO!  MAD AS HELL!, and I'm not gonna'take it anymore.

    "TO THE SOAPBOX!"
    It's the only way.

  •  Just one quibble. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    srfRantz, Puddytat, JayRaye

    I can't find a source to back me up right now, but if I'm recalling correctly, the economic decline began back during Nixon's administration.  That's about the time stagflation was named.  We had Whip Inflation Now under Ford.  Mid 70s or so is also, I think, when we started seeing an uptick in 2 income households.  

    The chart on page 9 of this link seems to show what I recall.    

    Republicans: if they only had a heart.

    by leu2500 on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 08:17:01 AM PST

    •  Oil. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Puddytat, leu2500, srfRantz, JayRaye, themank

      The oil crises of 1973 and 1979 generated major inflation, which Republicans used to promote supply-side economic theory, which led to our current economic malaise.

      Nixon fought inflation by eliminating the gold standard and instituting price controls. The source of the inflation he fought was the shortsighted income tax cut on the wealthy put in by Kennedy along with massive spending on Vietnam and Cold wars.

      A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

      by edg on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 09:01:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  thanks for the info (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Puddytat, leu2500, JayRaye

        was not familiar with the Kennedy tax cut. a surprise, I suppose I should be more familiar with it, but I've been indoctrinated by my Liberal education to only know about (aka blame) the massive supply side cuts of Reagan (LOL)

        I've always been of the opinion that the Vietnam War--as much as we hated it and as much as it cost in $ and lives--was integral to the war based industrial economy (thanks to the MIC and it's outsized influence) and it's end contributed to the economic slow down that hit in the 70s. but that's always just been my gut feeling.

        another gut feeling is that the mindset of "fuck 'em" and "get mine now" that pervaded management/republican/executive thinking which motivated the new approaches of bleeding the country dry by among other things, out-sourcing, union-busting, cutting educaton and on and on... that took hold by the 80s, which virtually destroyed the already ailing industrial base of the country, was subconsciously, maybe even consciously, payback for the upheavals of the 60s generation, the perceived 'ungratefulness' of 'those spoiled brats' as we were often labeled back in the day. our actions, as justified as we thought they were, no doubt caused a huge amount of blowback. the RW is still playing this card today in its propaganda...

        no man is completely worthless, he can always be used as a bad example.

        by srfRantz on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 09:48:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  +1 x100 n/t (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Puddytat, JayRaye

          I screwed up with a careless uprate so I'm a "No Rate" pariah. When I give a comment "+1 n/t", please consider that a recommend. (That's my workaround to participate here). DK haiku, one complete thought in a title field. Roar louder! NR since 3/7/12.

          by Josiah Bartlett on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 09:56:23 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Kennedy took the top tax rate (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          leu2500, srfRantz, JayRaye

          down from 92% which wasn't unreasonable.   Nixon cut them further, but the biggest damage was done by Ronald Reagan who took them down from 74% to I can't remember what rate in the 50s.  Dubya took them to 36% and the "I make money on Wall Street rate" to 15%.

          In the meantime, with those declining revenues, we've served up huge amounts of defense spending and a whole lot of wars.  And now they want to gut everything else.

          There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

          by Puddytat on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 10:04:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Tax cuts ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Puddytat

            Kennedy : reduced top marginal rate from 91% to 70%

            Reagan : in 1981 the top rate dropped from 70% to 50% and in 1986 the top tax rate was lowered from 50% to 28% while the bottom rate was raised from 11% to 15%

            Clinton : raised top rate to 39.6%

            Dubya : dropped top rate to 36%

            A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

            by edg on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 03:12:11 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  That's not just opinion. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BlackSheep1

          I know that at least as far back as WWII, war was followed by a recession.  

          Republicans: if they only had a heart.

          by leu2500 on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 10:25:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  And U.S. oil production peaked in 1970. (0+ / 0-)

        Which seems to have had a multitude of significant economic and geopolitical implication.

    •  I was just thinking about that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Puddytat, JayRaye, BlackSheep1

      went out to load in some firewood and started thinking back to the 70s. there is a lot that happened then that began the economic decline. the end of the Viet Nam war and the OPEC oil embargo hit us hard causing a major series of recessions just as the Baby boom was hitting the employment market while our parents who still had them were holding on to all the remaining jobs tightly. but IMHO it was the Reagan policies, and the vaunted 'shift to the right' that really put the nails in the coffin and the situation we face today.

      I am aware too of the culpability of both unions 'excessive demands' in the early 60s and the student/counter-culture/anti-war movements/unrest in the late 60s/early 70s that contributed to the backlash against "Liberal" policies and ideas. but that's a whole other story and argument.

      but briefly: people standing up for themselves and what they believe in (peace, a good wage and benefits...) is a bit different from a handful of already rich and powerful interests deliberately undercutting American industry and workforce in order to keep and hold power and profits...just IMHO...

      no man is completely worthless, he can always be used as a bad example.

      by srfRantz on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 09:13:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, Baby Boomers (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        leu2500, srfRantz, JayRaye

        started affecting employment in the 1960s and didn't cause problems with unemployment.  Back then most jobs had pensions which enabled workers to retire at a more reasonable age, freeing up jobs for younger workers.

        It was the tail end of the Boomers that entered the job market in the early to mid 70s (those born in the 1950s).

        But that was a time when we made everything here.  In this country.  THAT was what made our entry into WWII a game changer.  We didn't import much of anything while the rest of the Allies did.  We made our own uniforms, guns, tanks, jeeps, planes, etc.  

        Today, not so much.  We import far more from slave wage countries because CEOs are not just greedy, they're unpatriotic.

        There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

        by Puddytat on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 10:11:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  some made way, like my Dad who retired at 53 (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JayRaye, leu2500

          in the early 80s.

          in the 60s the whole economic/prosperity engine was still going strong so those who wanted into the corporate world out of college found a place, they even came to campuses to recruit...until they got chased off...as the 60s and Vietnam wore on, joining the corporate world was less desired of course. Virulently dismissed as a sellout/soul-crushing betrayal of all values we held dear actually. damn we were idealistic...(and that didn't work out so well for a LOT of us)

          and yes by the 70s different story. I was thinking from my own experience of coming out of college in 1974 and there was nothing much going on hiring-wise any more. I remember going to job sites (not mentioning my new Ivy League Liberal Arts Degree of course) and asking if I could sweep up or something, meeting the half dozen Ph.Ds a couple years older than me building the house who couldn't even get a teaching assistant job and laughing about the ridiculousness of it all.

          the few job interviews I went on all the guys in those offices were my Dad's age and not budging, at the peak of their earnings and careers.

          I didn't care tho. the hippie aesthetic was strong in this one. I hitched to California, I went surfing. lived in my car, on couches, eventually got a job with a carpenter who rented me his garage to live in. good times.

          no man is completely worthless, he can always be used as a bad example.

          by srfRantz on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 10:46:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I was a union member my entire working life (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat, JayRaye, Noodles

    We only went on strike once, and for good reasons. We wanted some job security. It worked, even though the business has changed in many ways.

    I think the changes came about due the increasingly competitive CEO arena. Salaries for these buffoons are out of control and have held businesses hostage for the last thirty years. I'm pretty sure that the guy who was CEO when I first started working back in the 70's wasn't getting multi million dollar golden parachute nor was he living like some entitled emperor.

    But you'll never hear that from the Corporate assholes running the world these days. I could make better decisions than these clowns, who never had a creative or sound idea in their life.

    •  exactly and the thing that catalyzed CEO pay (8+ / 0-)

      was cutting taxes for the top brackets. everything else sprung from that.

      once there was no deterrent force against obtaining, hoarding and gambling with huge sums of money, the  redistribution upward and resulting concentration of wealth accelerated rapidly. and along with it the concentration of power, the ability to control legistlation (deregulation) and so forth, grew as a vicious circle kept building until the bubble burst.

      in all the arguments over raising taxes now, I never hear this argument FOR high taxes. they created Jobs!!! if they chose to spend the money back into the business, by hiring, training, expanding, modernizing, they didn't have to pay taxes on those huge salaries at the high rates, so there was an incentive to do that versus taking millions for themselves only to kick back 90% to the government to spend for them. not to mention guaranteeing a strong economy by putting money into the hands of consumers (their workers) at a high enough level that they could spend AND save for the future. (and they, the executives, still lived like kings, you should see the homes around here where they lived.)

      but once they set it up so that they could get huge bonuses by just increasing the bottom line, without consideration of how or long run effects, or having to pay a huge hit in taxes, they figured out they could just cut wages and lay people off, and pocket the cash. or worse go gamble it on Wall St. on newly created 'investment instruments' which enabled them to create profit out of thin air, by just selling and reselling repackaged invented securities. on so it went...

      no man is completely worthless, he can always be used as a bad example.

      by srfRantz on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 09:28:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Outstanding comment... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JayRaye

        When the top marginal tax rates were cut, CEO thinking very quickly shifted to short tern instead of long term.  

        It became so much easier to grab the bird in hand today instead of building a comfortable long term nest.

        +1

        I screwed up with a careless uprate so I'm a "No Rate" pariah. When I give a comment "+1 n/t", please consider that a recommend. (That's my workaround to participate here). DK haiku, one complete thought in a title field. Roar louder! NR since 3/7/12.

        by Josiah Bartlett on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 10:03:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And bad managers drove out the good...n/t (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Puddytat, JayRaye

          I screwed up with a careless uprate so I'm a "No Rate" pariah. When I give a comment "+1 n/t", please consider that a recommend. (That's my workaround to participate here). DK haiku, one complete thought in a title field. Roar louder! NR since 3/7/12.

          by Josiah Bartlett on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 10:04:00 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  The BIG problem with CEOs (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        srfRantz, JayRaye, congenitalefty

        is their greed.  They don't think about anything besides the upcoming quarter because that's what determines their pay.  And if the business goes in the toilet, they can just work for some other company.  They don't plan long term or look at the overall health of their company because they aren't paid to.

        Business run by a single owner or families always planned long term because they wanted their business to remain viable and healthy to pass on to the next generation.  

        Today, profits today and screw tomorrow is totally the fault of using CEOs instead of the sane folks that used to run corporations.

        There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

        by Puddytat on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 10:15:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I sent this in for Top Comment. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JayRaye

        Good Luck.
        JB

        I screwed up with a careless uprate so I'm a "No Rate" pariah. When I give a comment "+1 n/t", please consider that a recommend. (That's my workaround to participate here). DK haiku, one complete thought in a title field. Roar louder! NR since 3/7/12.

        by Josiah Bartlett on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 10:33:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  What were the government policies that you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayRaye

    blame for this?

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 09:37:31 AM PST

    •  for starters see some of the above [new] comments (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Puddytat, JayRaye

      in replies to other comments.

      or just start reading random diaries at Kos.
      LOL.

      the topic of Reagan and his policies and their long term effect on this country is quite popular.

      basically, the entire playbook of Modern Movement Conservatism and supply side economics.
      cut taxes, cut spending on everything but Defense, start wars, wars and more wars, run up huge deficits, cut education, cut the safety net, weaken unions, tax breaks for offshoring jobs, deregulate the finance sector, weaken or remove oversight aka Free Markets!!!, generate fear and jealousy among the population, blame the poor and unemployed instead of helping them find work...

      there have been thousands of books written on this topic and umpteen articles and columns.

      no man is completely worthless, he can always be used as a bad example.

      by srfRantz on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 10:02:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Republished to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayRaye

    In Support of Labor and Unions.

    Thanks for the fine diary.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 10:05:32 AM PST

    •  thank you, I'm just warming up! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Puddytat, JayRaye

      btw, my first diary re. my Dad's memoir The 28 Inch Mill was posted to that group. which I greatly appreciate. how can I ensure that further posts are reviewed for posting there? is there a way to let admins know when there is a new one?

      thanks.

      no man is completely worthless, he can always be used as a bad example.

      by srfRantz on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 10:08:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Group members look at diaries (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JayRaye

        and make the decisions ourselves.  Some of us follow tags in order to not miss pertinent diaries so if you include appropriate tags, members of groups will generally notice the diaries.  Example:  Your "unions" and "workers" tags, brought your diary into my stream.

        Tags are one of the most important thing folks can do for their diaries.

        There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

        by Puddytat on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 10:18:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I look at ever diary with these tags: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Puddytat

        labor, union, solidarity (etc)

        And if I think it fits, I repub to the labor group.

        Would have repub'd this one, but Puddy beat me to it.

        Tip: use every tag that you think fits, the more the better.

        WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Dec: Life so cheap; property so sacred.

        by JayRaye on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 11:16:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  1946 was an alternate Earth which looks like 2013 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    srfRantz, JayRaye

    We had graver problems with deficits, recession, vets coming home to a lack of jobs compounded by crippled trade and availability of credit due to a devistated Europe. But we had much higher taxes which went up every year with enormous spending on the GI Bill, the Marshall plan, and building the interstate highway system. With a 91% top tax rate through the 50's and lots of union support from mostly Democratic congresses we became the world's wealthiest nation and developed the first modern middle class where most of the nation's wealth was in the pockets of most of its citizens.

    1946 and the following 20 years demonstrate that the Republican economic proposals are the wrong way to go. And they know it which is why they fight against ours and New Deal approaches. A healthy government would place the teabaggers back under a rock.

  •  Added tag: United Steel Workers of America (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    srfRantz

    And here is a link:
    http://www.usw.org/

    Marker for Bethlehem Steel Strike of 1910
    http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/...

    Bethlehem was one of the companies struck in the "Little Steel" Strike of 1937 which included the Memorial Day Massacre (WE NEVER FORGET)

    At first, the SWOC [Steel Workers Organizing Committee] concentrated its efforts on the industry giant U.S. Steel. This campaign bore fruit in March 1937, when U.S. Steel recognized the SWOC without a fight. But other large firms, collectively dubbed "Little Steel" only because they were smaller than U.S. Steel Corporation, fought hard against the SWOC. The Little Steel Strike of 1937 was really separate strikes against Bethlehem Steel, Republic Steel, Inland Steel, and Youngstown Sheet and Tube. It began when the Republic Steel president, Tom Girdler, locked employees out of the firm's Massillon, Ohio, mill on 20 May. The most famous incident of the strike occurred on 30 May 1937, outside a Republic Steel plant in Chicago. Chicago policemen shot into a crowd of strikers who had wanted to march on the plant. Ten marchers, seven of whom were shot in the back, died of their wounds. The gunfire injured thirty others, nine of whom were permanently disabled.
    http://www.answers.com/...

    6 strikes of 1941, including Bethlehem Steel
    http://newdeal.feri.org/...

    WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Dec: Life so cheap; property so sacred.

    by JayRaye on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 11:39:34 AM PST

    •  anticipating my next diaries are you?... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JayRaye

      took a slight break away from the computer to try and get some other stuff done, but my mind kept coming back to all this.

      weighing heavily on my mind is this list:
      http://www.steelworkersarchives.com/...

      on a site I built for the local steelworkers who created an organization to collect the stories of the workers before they all died off.

      for me it speaks volumes about the history of  labor in this country and in the Steel especially.

      and this is just those who died actually in the plant on the job. the Bethlehem plant. one plant in one town, not all the 1000s who died from diseases and accidents and maiming and just plumb worn out working in the mills...

      I'm going to just post the full list as my next diary.

      and I'll be posting shortly a new installment of my Dad's memoir. He has a brief overview of the history of the union organizing that mentions SWOC so I will jump to posting that next.

      no man is completely worthless, he can always be used as a bad example.

      by srfRantz on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 12:32:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'll be looking for it and will repub to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        srfRantz

        The labor group and also to WE NEVER FORGET.

        WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Dec: Life so cheap; property so sacred.

        by JayRaye on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 12:35:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  ps-THIS is some really great work, srfRantz! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          srfRantz

          Plan to read all of your diaries, somehow I missed some of them.

          Thank you so much for preserving these memories.
          You are making an important contribution.

          WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Dec: Life so cheap; property so sacred.

          by JayRaye on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 12:42:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  We Never Forget (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JayRaye

          damn straight.

          that's why I'm doing this.

          tears in my eyes.

          thanks for letting me know about that group.

          the list is up. hard to even think about still...choking up...

          no man is completely worthless, he can always be used as a bad example.

          by srfRantz on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 01:18:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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