In the mid-1960s, General Motors executives envisioned that their huge new assembly plant taking shape on farm fields in northeastern Ohio would make history.
It did. But not in the way they had hoped.
Instead, it gave birth to "Lordstown syndrome," a term still used sometimes by academics and human-resource people to describe worker rebellion, including sabotage of products.
Socialist writer Ken Weller called the Lordstown story "working-class resistance to work itself."
The strife at the Lordstown complex was at its peak in 1971-72, a time of widespread U.S. societal upheaval. News reports from the period say unhappy assembly line workers put foreign objects in engines and gas tanks, intentionally left parts off vehicles, slashed upholstery, scratched paint and even set fires.
The victims were Chevrolet Vegas — intended to be GM's import fighters and meant to roll off the highly automated Lordstown assembly line at the rate of 100 an hour.
Instead, the plant was plagued by extraordinary employee absenteeism and turnover and high rates of on-the-job drug and alcohol use, according to the reports. The turmoil was punctuated by walkouts.
The rebellious workers inspired more than a few research papers and books; a documentary film, Loose Bolts?; and a critically acclaimed theatrical movie, Blue Collar, co-starring a serious and angry Richard Pryor.