Friday, July 29, 2011

Rivethead by Ben Hamper

When I was done with the army and heading to school at what is now IUPUFW I think,and illness caused me to lose my part time job and I couldn’t devise a way to live on no money, I set my sights on getting into a union plant instead, and a year later was hired into a UAW factory. I never even tried any temporary foreman jobs but I jumped at every union job I could get, and I served a long time as a shop steward and I was a local trustee for two terms also.
Also, I couldn’t get enough of the history of US labor, and I read everything I could find on the Reuther brothers and all the histories of the great labor movement . It was heady stuff to me, but I must report I was so far left , so in tune with the spirit of the early days, I was alone, except for one other young up-and-comer, who ended up being an international rep for the union .
With my background then, I want to tell you about my favorite worker-book, by a former worker in Pontiac named Ben Hamper.
Michael Moore put Ben on the cover of Mother Jones magazine during the very short stay Moore had out there.
After much critical acclaim , Ben’s story of life on the assembly line became a book called “Rivethead”.
To read it today would be awkward; much has changed since the book was published. Things just are not done like they were done in Ben’s time on the line. However, as a historical look at the assembly lines of the 1980s, this is the book for you to read.


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