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You Can't Tell an Article From the Book on Its Cover

July 09, 1989

The picture of my book, "End of the Line: Autoworkers and the American Dream," was the most impressive and forthright part of Times staff writer James Risen's article. ("Machine Politics," May 31) The article missed many points from our two-hour interview and misrepresented other areas. Let me make three important points.

- I wrote the book because I had learned so much from the people I worked with at the Ford plant during the past 18 years. The book expresses my respect for my co-workers. From my experience, it has become clear that working people are fed up with the opinions and prognosis of the experts, whether they are economists, politicians, corporate or union leaders. As we usher in the 1990s, it is time to listen to each other and become active citizens debating the issues of unionism, new styles of management, changing work, the role of technology and the changing economy. The 30 individuals interviewed in the book have a deeper understanding than all the professionals in Washington. The future of America depends upon people in plants or in the communities creating a new vision and purpose for the American Dream.

- In your attempt to highlight my evolution of thinking from Marxist ideology to an American Revolution you missed the substance. I no longer believe that workers in industry will be in the vanguard of a revolution. I believe that citizens throughout our country will need to build a social movement based upon rebuilding our cities and creating locally based, regional economies that are environmentally safe and free from crime, drugs and violence. The American culture of materialism and consumerism will need to be replaced with a solidarity between workplace and community, between workers and unemployed. A nation that has some people working 10-hour days and others on welfare cannot be the America of the 21st Century.

- My idealism and my hope are alive in the honest discussion taking place among growing numbers of Americans. As I said to Risen during our discussion, the New Directions movement in the United Auto Workers, the growing citizen movements against crime in our cities, and the growing voices for a safe environment throughout our country provide the signs of hope in 1989. This is not 1968 and I am glad that my ideas have changed and matured. The final chapter in our book is titled, "Rebuilding the Dream."

Changing times demand changing ideas for creative solutions.

RICHARD FELDMAN

Detroit

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