Rivethead by Ben Hamper broadly covers the author’s experience when he worked at General Motors (GM) cars and trucks in Flint Michigan for many years as a vehicle assembler. The book provides a historical background of the author and the author’s professional family lineage. Ben Hamper came from a succession of auto workers and their vocational engagement dates back to the mid nineteenth century.
The author was performing in a less than average way while in high school; meaning he was not a viable candidate for university or collage admission after high school. This left him with no option but to work for General Motors as a vehicle assembler since this was a popular job for most men that hailed from the author’s home area. The book records a booming period for organized labor which was however riddled with inconsistencies.
Special insights and subtle revelations of the nature of the organizational world are abounding in “Rivethead” by Ben Hamper (Fineman 23). The book reveals that the organization had a categorical arrangement which in most cases was not cohesive enough to effectively run a profitable yet contented and productive organization (Yates 3). A number of organizational successes are also subtly outlined in the book, but the author takes most of the time discussing the organizational dynamics of General Motors (Hamper 2).
Ben Hamper helps the reader recognize the relaxed nature in which organizations monitor their workers (Yates 5). When hamper starts working for GM, he learns to quickly navigate the ranks and he is assigned to simple jobs (Meyer 2). Hamper realized that the work was so easy that he could do his job as well as his partner’s at the same time, leaving his partner free to do whatever he wanted.
The author and his partner alternated their duties and thus encouraging truancy. The author spent his free time in a bar and this was also a routine that was common with his partner. Both of them would still receive their pay as well as any bonuses even though neither of them was applying their full input at work.
There was a high rate of drug and alcohol abuse during working hours which went unreported or was ignored by the management. Eventually the American automobile industry and in particular General Motors obtained an appalling reputation for substandard workmanship and poor management.
There were several deaths and mutilations in the mid twentieth century that were caused by faulty cars and car parts which were obviously mishandled by the assembly plant workers (Meyer 4). The author helps the reader identify the organizational mismanagement of the workers at all tiers of the work place (Hamper 4). The workers that were responsible for assembly were often drunk while at work leading to the assemblage of faulty vehicles (Fineman 20).
The workers that were supposed to inspect, classify and grade the assembled vehicles also did a shoddy job because they failed to identify any problems in the outgoing vehicles (Yates 10). Therefore, there was a total mishandling of the whole organization considering the main product of the organization-which in this case was vehicle that ended up being of poor quality than expected (Baddeley 31).
When the author joined General Motors, he quickly learnt how to goldbrick, how to pretend and malinger, as well as how to lie in order to be allocated to the purported pussy jobs (Yates 6). The author definitely received favors from his supervisors as well as his superiors, because some of them assigned to him simple jobs while other workers were not given such privileges (Reynolds 75).
The author gives several dramatic descriptions of life on the assembly line and the reader can identify cases where the author is favored over his companions to get simpler jobs in the plant (Hamper 7).
The author does not find fault in the way managers handle their duties, rather he demonizes the rules that provided the guidelines for managerial conduct. In fact, Hamper portrays managers together with the workers as the victims of the organization (Fineman 19).
Even if GM is supposed to be non emotional, the organization was emotionally charged mostly with fear and anxiety (Baddeley 36). Lay offs were a common practice thus the managers were not flexible enough to add their input rather they robotically follow the orders from their superiors (Reynolds 79).
The author of Rivethead identifies a number of problems in the workforce of organizations that were mainly responsible for the subsided quality of products. The author, Ben Hamper is especially radical in his criticism for General Motors, the plant where he worked as an automobile assembler.
The period seems to be concurrent with the era when labor was being organized into a more diverse and powerful workforce. It is therefore easy to understand why there were such regular discrepancies in the workplace not only in the workers’ level but also the managerial and organizational level as well.
Baddeley, Gavin. Goth Chic: A Connoisseur’s Guide to Dark Culture. London: Plexus Publishing, 2002. Print.
Fineman, Stephen. Emotions in organizations. London: sage, 1993. Print.
Hamper, Ben. Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line. Excerpts. Jan 2006. 24 Feb 2010, from: http://hamper.michaelmoore.com/chapter1.html
Meyer Steve. Workplace Predators. Labor and Working-Class History Association. July 2004. 24 Feb 2010 from: http://labor.dukejournals.org/cgi/pdf_extract/1/1/77
Reynolds, Simon. Rip It Up And Start Again: Post-punk 1978-1984. London: Faber and Faber Limited, 2006.Print.
Yates, Michae. Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line. Book reviews. December 1992. 24 Feb 2010 from: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1132/is_n7_v44/ai_13272614/