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Maxwell was here.

Nothing about the purchase of the New York Daily News by Robert Maxwell was stranger than the labeling of this publishing tycoon as a socialist. Let the deluded call Art Romero, now a printer at the Los Angeles Daily News (no relative, corporate or otherwise).

Romero used to be shop steward at Alcogravure Printing in North Hollywood, where he worked for twenty-seven years. Maxwell took over in late December 1987. The plant ran normally for a while-three shifts, twenty-four hours a day.

On May 1, 1988, Romero was asked to hire ten more journeymen and nineteen or twenty more trainees. There was going to be much more work, he was told; the plant was going to run seven days a week. He started hiring. Then management told him that there was so much work coming up, it would be best if some of the guys "got their vacations out of the way:' Fifteen of them, including Romero, took vacation beginning May 21.

Five days later Romero came back to work. At 10 A.M. a new trainee was hired. At 2:45 Romero was called into a meeting and told that the plant was closing, that he should clear out in ten minutes. The company moved operations to nonunion shops in Richmond and Dallas. Romero was out of work for sixteen months. Among his former co-workers there were a number of divorces, families split up by sudden money problems or impossible commutes. One worker tried to commit suicide. When he heard all the promises-the seven-day week and all the work to come-he'd run out and bought a new car. " It was loaded:' Romero recalls, "everything you could possibly buy, he had it. He hadn't even made his first payment when the plant was closed." Soon after the North Hollywood shop was shut, Maxwell closed the Chicago branch of Alcogravure, which was also unionized. On March 1, 1990, he sold the whole company to a Canadian firm.

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Title Annotation:Beat the Devil; publisher Robert Maxwell shut down unionized printing plants
Author:Cockburn, Alexander
Publication:The Nation
Article Type:column
Date:Apr 29, 1991
Previous Article:Deep throat.
Next Article:Voices from beyond the grave.

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