Studs Terkel’s “Mike LeFevre, Steel Worker”

May 1, 2014
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Business 1050 Section 004

Studs Terkel, Mike LeFevre, Steel Worker

            Studs Terkel’s actual name is Louis Terkel, the nickname “Studs” came from a director that confused Terkel with another actor.  He also was an historian, broadcaster and an author. His most famous book was “The Good War” that was written in 1982 and received the Pulitzer Prize. Studs was born in 1912 in Chicago and died in 2008 from a faithful fall a couple of months before.

”Mike LeFevre, Steel Worker” was published in 1972, which gives a first person view of a steel worker’s life. Mike LeFevere is also a family man that needs to support a family and talks about the importance of education. The interview reveals the relationship between boss, worker, time, family, and education.   

            Life as a steel worker is not an easy life. The job is a simple job, but that never means it’s an easy job. Every day LeFevre does the same job and the same routine of puling steel. This job is a very physical job that requires heavy lifting. The same time having to deal with bosses that are much younger with a college education. These daily routines give LeFevre a feeling of frustration that is only ventilated through the many bar fights that erupt after work. Also if the fight happens with the boss or another worker there would likely lead to the loss of a job. In LeFevre’s position a loss of a job is not an option for his obligation to his family.  If that is not enough to deal with the knowledge that the work is never finished and will never see the finished work. This might not seem like a big deal but when LeFevre refers this act of producing a product but never seeing it finished. Is like never accomplishing the task and not being able to take pride in the work. At one point in time a man was able to make something and take pride in the work being done, to creation the finish product: a “cabin”. Through this modern production of items being produced a person is not able to take pride in what is being made or contributed. A question arises, what is society creating? Is it feeding this frustrations? Would society be better off with an educated population that is given an opportunity to achieve better standards of living? These are questions that are being asked when LeFevre is referring to a 20 hour work weeks. This 20 hour work week is the only way he could do something more than work and also give the needed attention to the family. For the time is just not there, otherwise to further one’s self. LeFevre comes to the conclusion that the only way to further the education in the family is to make sure a family member goes to college preferable a son that will one day have the chance to walk around in a “suit and tie.”

            This work done by Studs Terkel is so relatable because one day the majority of society will be in this position. The odds are that most people will end up with a job that is not the best or most pleasing. That it is done for the benefit for other individuals or a means to an end.   




“Critical Thinking” by Edward G. Engh pages 183-192


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