Fitch, Robert 1938- (Bob Fitch, Robert Beck Fitch)
Fitch, Robert 1938- (Bob Fitch, Robert Beck Fitch)
Born December 27, 1938, in Chicago, IL; stepson of Marvin Fitch (an architect) and son of Josephine Fitch. Education: Attended Oberlin College, 1956-58; University of Illinois, B.A., 1960; University of California, Berkeley, M.A., 1966, further study, beginning 1966. Politics: "Revolutionary Socialist." Religion: Atheist.
Home—Park Forest, IL.
(With Mary Oppenheimer) Ghana: End of an Illusion, Monthly Review Press (New York, NY), 1966.
(With Lynne Fitch) Say Chicano: I Am Mexican-American, Creative Educational Society (Mankato, MN), 1970.
My Eyes Have Seen, introduction by Daniel Berrigan, Glide Publications (San Francisco, CA), 1971.
(With Lynne Fitch) Right on Dellums! My Dad Goes to Congress, Creative Educational Society (Mankato, MN), 1971.
(With Lynne Fitch) Mark Witt Ward: A Black Family in the City, edited by Paul J. Deegan, Creative Educational Society (Mankato, MN), 1972.
(With Lynne Fitch) Grandfather's Land; We Are Mountain People, Creative Educational Society (Mankato, MN), 1972.
The Assassination of New York, Verso (New York, NY), 1993.
Solidarity for Sale: How Corruption Destroyed the Labor Movement and Undermined America's Promise, Public Affairs (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to Free Student and Marcha (Uruguay).
In The Assassination of New York Robert Fitch argues that big property owners in New York City conspired to drive out manufacturing and other diverse industries in the late decades of the twentieth century to make the city a single-function economy based on financial services. The resulting economic landscape favored property interests, which solidified their control over the city's planning and development. Workers lost jobs: construction of the World Trade Center alone, for example, displaced approximately 30,000 small-business people and blue-collar workers. During the recession of 1989 to 1993, the city lost more than 50,000 manufacturing jobs. Residential neighborhoods suffered, too, with property interests shunting unpleasant infrastructure projects their way. This state of affairs, in Fitch's view, can be blamed squarely on the influence of the Rockefellers, who acted to enhance their own profits and those of other large property owners.
Critics responded to Fitch's thesis with some skepticism. In Monthly Review Robert Engler acknowledged the significance of the changes Fitch documents in the book, but wrote that "[I] would like to have heard more frequently and directly from Fitch's powerholders, not so much for balance as for another dimension of insight into their thinking." Nation contributor Joshua B. Freeman also noted Fitch's one-sidedness, pointing out that he "does not bother to engage, let alone refute, the common claims by industrial employers that costly union rules, crime, corruption, overregulation and congestion, along with high wages, taxes and utility costs, made doing business in New York unprofitable once communication and transportation advances made it possible to operate elsewhere." Planning contributor Harold Henderson, however, observed that "even if [Fitch] doesn't convince you, he will at least get you thinking about planning in a different way."
Fitch's exposé of union corruption, Solidarity for Sale: How Corruption Destroyed the Labor Movement and Undermined America's Promise, drew several respect- ful reviews. Pointing out entrenched problems within unions, including massive embezzlement, money laundering, pension fund mismanagement, bribery, and even murder, Fitch—a union member since his teens—argues that "corruption … had been built into the labor movement from its very inception." Labor leaders, he shows, acted to increase their own power, not for the good of workers. His example is Samuel Gompers, who opposed government attempts to regulate the length of the workday because he wanted the unions alone to retain this power. Unions, Fitch writes, developed into fiefdoms that often had Mafia connections and that operated through a system of kickbacks, bribes, and violence. Workers' conditions in the United States, Fitch argues, continue to deteriorate while unions do little to improve matters.
While American Prospect writer Harold Meyerson felt that "the world of unions is nowhere near so foul as Fitch would have us believe, nor the world of business so fair that if unions were angels, workers could get a fair shake," several other critics were favorably impressed with Fitch's analysis. "Nobody has written of trade unionism's fatal embrace with the underworld, and its own demons, more eloquently," observed Carl F. Horowitz in National Review. Eleanor J. Bader, writing in the New York Law Journal, called Solidarity for Sale "sobering and provocative," adding that "its depiction of organized crime's role in the labor movement, compounded by bureaucratic intransigence, rigid hierarchies, and personal greed, conflate to explain why U.S. labor is in such a sorry state."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Fitch, Robert, The Assassination of New York, Verso (New York, NY), 1993.
Fitch, Robert, Solidarity for Sale: How Corruption Destroyed the Labor Movement and Undermined America's Promise, Public Affairs (New York, NY), 2006.
American Prospect, May 1, 2006, Harold Meyerson, "The Curse on Unions," p. 50.
Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2005, review of Solidarity for Sale, p. 1264.
Monthly Review, July 1, 1994, Robert Engler, review of The Assassination of New York, p. 114.
Nation, November 22, 1993, Joshua B. Freeman, review of The Assassination of New York, p. 626.
National Review, February 13, 2006, Carl F. Horowitz, "The Bosses Sell Out," p. 50.
New Statesman & Society, December 10, 1993, Colin Ward, review of The Assassination of New York, p. 42.
New York Law Journal, May 23, 2007, Eleanor J. Bader, review of Solidarity for Sale.
Planning, May 1, 1994, Harold Henderson, review of The Assassination of New York, p. 37.
Publishers Weekly, November 8, 1993, review of The Assassination of New York, p. 65; October 24, 2005, review of Solidarity for Sale, p. 47.
Society, January 1, 1996, Tony Travers, review of The Assassination of New York, p. 88.
Tikkun, March 1, 2006, review of Solidarity for Sale, p. 81.
Hinton News,http://www.hintonnews.net/ (March 5, 2008), David M. Kinchen, review of Solidarity for Sale.
View,http://www.licweb.com/ (March 5, 2008), interview with Robert Fitch.