Life on the Line: One Woman's Tale of Work, Sweat and Survival

Life on the Line: One Woman's Tale of Work, Sweat and Survival

by Solange de Santis, Solange De Santis
     
 

"Engaging—. Terrific—. Takes us over the collar line with grace and authority."—The New York Times

As a veteran reporter throughout the "downsizing" years of the auto industry in the United States and Canada, Queens-born Solange De Santis covered her fair share of auto plant closings, but almost always from the management's point of view.…  See more details below

Overview

"Engaging—. Terrific—. Takes us over the collar line with grace and authority."—The New York Times

As a veteran reporter throughout the "downsizing" years of the auto industry in the United States and Canada, Queens-born Solange De Santis covered her fair share of auto plant closings, but almost always from the management's point of view. That is, until this mid-career, mid-thirties, Ivy League-educated journalist quit her job to become an assembly-line autoworker.

She was hired at a doomed General Motors plant, and quickly learned about the bone-crushing realities and mitigated rewards of hard, physical work. In Life on the Line, De Santis offers a glimpse into a world that too many of us shy away from acknowledging, even as we accept the keys to our new cars. Completely candid, and as unexpectedly poignant as it is funny, Life on the Line will change the way you view blue-collar work and the cars on which we all depend.


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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Always interested in the life of the blue-collar worker, De Santis, a business reporter, took a job on the line for the GM plant in Scarborough, Ontario. For more than a year, she worked in a variety of different areas, got to know the other employees, and watched them deal with various issues, including the closing of the plant. De Santis helps readers get to know her colleagues--their fears, their joys, and their feelings about being GM employees. She also sees herself grow and develop, falling in love with and marrying a co-worker and dealing with the reactions of family and friends toward her blue-collar work. She also describes her new feelings about the white-collar world as a result of her experience on the line. Humorous, touching, and sad, this fascinating book will stay with you for a long time. For all libraries.--Danna C. Bell-Russel, Library of Congress Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An interesting tale of personal fulfillment, as a sedentary journalist proves she can hack it on the factory floor of a General Motors plant, but one that provides disappointingly little insight into the larger issues confronting workers in today's global economy. Wall Street Journal reporter De Santis had always covered business from the top down, writing about CEOs, earnings reports, mergers, and shareholder value. Raised in a privileged background, with an Ivy League education, she nonetheless longed to experience life on the factory floor. Hiding her journalism background, she applied for a factory job with GM and was eventually hired to work at a van manufacturing plant in Scarborough, Ontario. GM had already decided to close the Ontario plant 18 months in the future, thereby "downsizing" 2,700 workers (including the author). Unfortunately, De Santis isn't really interested in the larger issues: "My interest wasn't political in nature," she admits; instead she focuses on "the people on the factory floor—who they were, how they got there" and what they'd do after losing their jobs. The work itself, from installing insulation panels to sweeping floors, proved physically exhausting; but De Santis comes across as tough, motivated, and genuinely concerned with her co-workers. She discovers the twin enemies of every factory worker: physical pain and mind-numbing monotony. Drugs and alcohol were the painkillers of choice among many of her co-workers. She meets a breathtaking diversity of people, from Chas the aspiring rock star to Lance the management wannabe to Gayle the avowed socialist. In one of her sharper insights, De Santis relates the patronizing attitude managementoften takes toward workers; when the factory achieved difficult production goals, management distributed free coffee, cheap baseball caps, and lots of "consultant hogwash" to "reward" the workers. While this is an absorbing and skillfully written personal account of one woman's life on the factory floor, it's doesn't provide much of a window into today's often-embattled workforce.

From the Publisher
"Compelling—De Santis offers much insight into the various goings-on inside an industrial plant, from the differences between management and labor that foster mistrust and animosity to the intricacies of union politics."—New York Post

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385489775
Publisher:
Doubleday Religious Publishing
Publication date:
04/20/1999
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.54(w) x 9.55(h) x 1.07(d)

Meet the Author

Solange De Santis has been a reporter and writer for Reuters, Associated Press, and The Globe and Mail. She is currently a staff reporter for the Toronto office of the Wall Street Journal and lives in the Toronto area with her family.

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