Teaching Activities (Free)

Shutdown! — Confronting Plant Closures

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. 14 pages.
In this role play activity, students assume the roles of union members and attempt to figure out how to respond to a threatened plant closure.

Themes: Economics, Labor, Organizing, Social Class

ConfrontingPlantClosures_strikersIn this lesson, students grapple with one of the difficult and unresolved issues that confronts workers: plant closures. Students take on the role of union members and consider a range of options for how to deal with this threat. Should they work for plant closure legislation? Should they attempt to take over the plant and run it themselves? Should they appeal for government relief for the company that owns the plant? Should they try to persuade or force the company to stay?

Students will understand some of the personal and community consequences of closing facilities that provide employment; enhance their ability to think about public policy, and evaluate appropriate means and ends; and they will consider some of the limits to any choice that unions and workers in a particular facility may make in response to a closure.

People taking part in the sit in at the Vestas plant in Newport, Isle of Wight.

People taking part in the sit in at the Vestas plant in Newport, Isle of Wight, 2009. Source: Public domain

The Power In Our Hands Available for Download

This is one of the 16 lessons available from The Power In Our Hands. Other lessons available for individual download are:


Unit I: Basic Understandings

Unit II: Changes in the Workplace/”Scientific Management”

Unit III: Defeats, Victories, Challenges

Unit IV: Our Own Recent Past

Unit V: Continuing Struggle

Order the book online from Monthly Review.