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since 1973 of legislation that would address the plant closing issue. Earlier versions of the bill were designed to discourage runaway shops from running away, but the bills never got out of committee. This year’s attempt was tailored to the probusiness mood of the current Congress; it stressed advance notification, and made less of an effort to tip the balance between labor and management. Still, in cases where the workforce is unionized, the bill required “consultations” between management and unions before the final decision to close. It also provided for legal remedies for laid-off workers in some cases. tt But when the bill came to the House floor Nov. 14 it was evident that much of the pro-union portion of the bill was not going to fly. Rep. Steve Bartlett, the Dallas Republican, succeeded in passing an amendment that removed the union consultation provisions from the bill. Ford pulled the bill off the floor to see what could be salvaged. On November 21 it was brought up again. Another amendment that would have shortened the advance notice to 60 days was defeated, but so was the bill, 208-203. Plant closing legislation is now presumed to be dead for the remainder of the 99th Congress. p ETE LUNNI, LOBBYIST for the National Association of Manufacturers: “This was portrayed as a simple notice bill but it was far more than that.” Rep. Jim Chapman: “It was anything but a simple notification bill. A simple notification bill is a bill I could have and did support, and still would.” The business lobby’s strategy was to drum up concern about labor’s hidden agenda. A Chamber of Commerce mailing said the bill would “give unions more leverage over employers” and would be “a major boost in their efforts to unionize workers.” But after Bartlett’s amendment took out the union consultation provisions, all that changed, according to AFLCIO lobbyist Jay Power. On the final vote “it was no longer a ,union bill, it became just a worker bill,” Power said. “It was a notice bill. It was a bill that said ‘you gotta tell the workers before you go to Taiwan, or before you go to the Caribbean.’ ” Chapman supported Bartlett’s amendment but insisted that even in its final form the bill put an “onerous burden on industry” and was “counter-productive to free enterprise.” But he declined to specify to the Observer the onerous restrictions that remained in the final watered-down version, saying, “I really don’t have time to go into detail.” In fact, there were no restrictions in the final bill other than’ the requirement that employers give 90 days notice before laying off more than 30 percent of the workforce \(or 50 the plant. The bill that was rejected November 21 was a weak remnant of a long-held goal of organized labor to give workers a voice in their own economic destiny not control of their destiny, mind you, but a voice in the matter. As Power of the AFL-CIO pointed out, many unions already have agreements in their contracts in the case of plant shutdowns, so the prime beneficiaries of the bill would have been non1 union workers. :.. This has everything to do with Texas it is not just an issue for Youngstown, Ohio, and the troubled industrial sector To Our Readers We are taking a week off for the holidays. Your next issue will be dated January 10. Happy New Year. of the Midwest. In recent years the Gulf Coast area has been hard-hit with layoffs and shutdowns as the downturn in the petrochemical industry wears on. A Burlington Industries textile plant closed in the West Texas town of Post two-anda-half years ago, leaving the community in a slump from which it still has not recovered. A ways up the highway in Hereford, 490 employees lost their jobs last summer when the Swift Independent meat packing plant closed its doors for good. And in Jim Chapman’s own district, 3,000 workers were laid off from Lone Star Steel in 1982. The mill continues to operate at half-strength, but who is to say the steel executives could not suddenly decide it was no longer in the best interest of the company to make steel in East Texas? The effect on the area would be devastating, but a business decision is, after all, a business decision. “The AFL-CIO is extremely upset over certain Democrats who left us on this bill,” said Power, although he declined to single any Democrats out. “We’re angry and we’re going to have a very, very long memory.” Local labor representatives may be more forgiving. They are reluctant to criticize Chapman’s vote against labor. “We’re disappointed,” said John Rogers of the Texas AFL-CIO, “but he’s a free agent. He’s his own man.” Willie Chapman, also of the AFL-CIO, says labor will look at Chapman’s voting record over the long range. “We don’t want to judge a fella too quick,” he said. CONTENTS FEATURES 2 Carrying Water for the Big Boys Dave Denison 4 Observations Ronnie Dugger 6 Higher Education and the Cult of Technology Geoffrey Rips 7 Part-Time Geoffrey Rips 11 Theologian of Liberal Economics John Kenneth Galbraith 14 Labor Nouveau: Old Wine in Texas Bottles Cory Walton DEPARTMENTS 17 Political Intelligence 20 Social Cause Calendar Books and the Culture: 19 John Sayles and the Dream Factory Elise Nakhnikian Afterword: 22 The Subtleties of Memory Javier Rodriguez Cover Art by Carlos Lowry THE TEXAS OBSERVER