Action Alert:

Economic Conversion Now, 1985

When the defense contracts stop, do firms and their employees have any alternative to simply shutting down? This documentary explores the history of attempts by workers and their unions to convert military enterprises to civilian production. Begun as a simple two-camera shoot of the International Economic Conversion Conference (IECC) held at Boston College in 1984, the project expanded as cameras moved on to document on-site conversion attempts at a General Electric plant in Charleston, SC and the Quincy Shipyards in Quincy, MA. The program also contains historic footage from earlier conversion attempts in the United States and Europe, particularly the grand daddy and model for all subsequent conversion efforts:  Lucas Aerospace in England.


On camera in this program are prominent international labor leaders, academic experts, and members of the U. S. Congress active within the economic conversion movement in the decade of the 1980?s. These Include:

  William Winpisinger,  President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers; Ron Todd, General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union in Great Britain; Barry Bluestone, Professor of Economics, Boston College; Seymour Melman, Professor of Industrial Engineering at Columbia University; Ted Weiss, Congressman from NY; Phil Mavroules, Congressman from MA;  Phil Asquith and John Routley, shop stewards at Lucas Aerospace; and Suzanne Gordon, Director of the IECC are among the many persons who talk about the hopes for economic conversion, its difficulties and its challenges.


Economic Conversion Now is a rare find, a snapshot in time of international labor history, an excellent addition to classrooms and libraries interested in video materials on labor history, the economics of military production, and disarmament movement activism.