I watched "Made In Dagenham" last night, a dramatization about women machinists, and of course, being the person absorbed with my own situation, times and life, I compared their lives and issues.
First, I was born on second and thought I hit a double, being white and male, with reasonable intelligence and talents and no obvious shortcomings (they emerge in secret, often at night, sometimes coaxed out by a glass of wine or a mug of beer). Then I managed to reach third. Don't know if I'll progress much further.
The time was 1968. The women in the movie worked at a factory sewing together Ford's interior. It wasn't pleasant. They stripped down to their bras to stay cool as they worked, it was portrayed as noisy as hell, and the roof leaked when it rained. Anyone who believes the work they did was unskilled has never done such sewing, fitting pieces together, managing the machine and the threads. They, being women, were paid far less than men. It was a time of increasing union influence, so they voted to press forward their greivances and called for a work stoppage.
The women had a few advantages, if the story is true. I've checked its truthfulness and it seems like it only strayed to streamline its telling. Footage and interviews with the actual women who struck, added to the closing credits, strengthened its veracity.
One, they had women who decided change was necessary. They sacrificed to deliver change and didn't accept the status quo.
They also had a man, Albert Passingham, played by Bob Hoskins, who supported and encouraged them. He did so from his personal experience, watching his single mother raise three boys on her own, but also recognized how unfair it was for women.
Last, the impressive Barbara Castle was the Secretary of Labor in Harold Wilson's government. She, too, agreed with the women's position and ignored Ford's threat to relocate their factories elsewhere. These factors helped create the perfect brew for change.
The other aspect was comparing these modern eras, my life of 2012 and their life of 1968. Man and woman, the factory workers bicycled to work. They rented small apartments and struggled to buy refrigerators and furniture on credit.
It brought to mind an earlier post of mine and some comments written. Dolores Cullen was reminded of her work in a factory and her foul-mouthed foreman. She posited that perhaps people coping with such wretched conditions had something that kept them going. What seemed to keep these folks going was that this work and nothing else was available, much as we see happening around the world.
The Occupy Wall Street protestors are much like the 1968 Ford factory workers. They're not accepting the situation as they see it. They're fighting for change. Those factory workers had little support outside their ranks. Without car interiors available, the rest of the factory shut down. Ford took a hit and Henry the deuce applied pressure. The UK economy felt the loss of exports, and households suffered from incomes.
It's easy to say, this needs to be changed and stay silent. It's harder to stand up for your principles and say, I will make the change. It's most difficult to stand as the tide turns against you. Inequality must be challenged wherever it's encountered. Without courage, principle, and integrity, nothing will ever change.
That was true in 1776, 1968, and it's true now.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com