Rich Feldman is a former auto worker and union official. He's a board member of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership. End of the Line: Autoworkers and the American Dream.
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RICH: This is Rich Feldman. I spent 20 years on the assembly line at Ford Motor Company out in Wayne. About 10 years as an elected, local official and about ten years with the international staff of the United Auto Workers.
ZAK: Especially on the Labor Day, Rich says it's very easy to be nostalgic about the past. But this year is not like every other year.
RICH: Well this Labor Day, which is taking place with almost 200-thousand people killed by COVID and the Movement For Black Lives since George Floyd was killed...it's critical that we not think of just going through the motions or just cheering on unions. So while I always say that without a union, you have nothing. With the union I believe you have a chance to have some security and have your voice heard and be responsible for what your work place should be. So my advice is, ask yourself what is the purpose of work and how do we become responsible workers and human beings? And returning to normal is not the way to do it...it's to create a new vision and a new purpose which is gonna take a lot, a lot of work and a lot of reflection.
ZAK: Well, how do you answer that question? What is the purpose of work?
RICH: So to me the purpose of work is for individuals to do what allows each of us to express our passions, to be responsible to our neighbors, to be responsible to our community and the planet. It's time for us to say, what are we producing as well as our rights and our contractual rights.
ZAK: Rich edited an oral history called End of the Line: Autoworkers and the American Dream. I put a link to it in our show notes. Thank you for listening to a special Labor Day episode of the Best Advice Show. I hope today is full or joy and fun and rest and contemplation.