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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Future of Social Policy in America

  • Author(s): Marris, Peter
  • et al.

Let me begin with a few excerpts from Los Angeles newspapers, which have caught my eye in the last few days. From the Reader, April 29th:

For almost half a century, General Motors' South Gate assembly plant has been a symbol of industrial America. Located five miles south of downtown Los Angeles, it was long considered one of the company's best plants, producing cars for one of the largest car markets in the world. It provided a decent living for thousands of auto workers and their families while stimulating the economy of South Gate and surround­ ing communities. The plant's workers, many of whom were GM's most senior workers, spent most of their adult lives making GM cars, believing all the while that America's industrial dominance throughout the world would guarantee them a job for life.

The dream was shattered last year, in March, when GM closed the plant for an indefinite period of time, laying off 4,300 workers. Last week, GM announced that the plant would be closed permanently. The deci­ sion wasn't much of a surprise to most workers, for the giant automaker has made it clear that car produc­ tion on the West Coast is no longer part of its long­ term strategy.

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