Shareholders’ Reel

© Maria Dunn & Shannon Johnson, 2012

In 1972, GWG became a subsidiary of Levi Strauss & Co.  With the change in ownership came a change in management style.  Union president at the time, Anne Ozipko (United Garment Workers of America, Local 120) described some lively negotiations she had with the new management.

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Bigwig coming from Toronto, sees a farm girl from Ukraine
Thinks he can intimidate me, well he’ll have to think again

Every year he says we’re closing, every year I call his bluff
Every year he’s crying poorer, so I thought “enough’s enough!”

I too own shares in this company
To myself I said “I’ll go and see”

Miles away from women working, lining pockets with machines
Pleated pants, pinstriped suits, deciding what the numbers mean

Hearty handshakes in the boardroom, dividends—just divine
Another year of tidy profits with a healthy bottom line

Bigwig crying from Toronto, “we are stretched beyond our means
We must tighten all your belts or come apart at the seams”

“Take the cut, sign the contract, otherwise you’re out of work
Up ‘til now you’ve had a say, up ‘til now you’ve had it good”

“We must shrink our costs while making more pants
To raise your wage means dropping our plants”

Bigwig’s bluster doesn’t fool me, heard it from the horse’s mouth
We’re the best the company’s got, there’s no plan to sell us south

I threw his contract on the table, “take your junk, go on home
‘Til you make a decent offer, worthy of the skill we’ve shown”

“Years and years to win the wage we have
There’s no way we’ll let you drag us back”

Bigwig flying to Toronto, packing all his empty threats
Leaving us to once again earn in peace our daily bread
Piece by piece, our daily bread

I’ve faced the bullies in the boardroom, pleated pants, pinstriped suits
I’d like to see them tread one hour in a factory woman’s shoes

Maria Dunn  vocal, acoustic guitar, accordion
Shannon Johnson  violin
Michael Lent  upright bass