He's an electronics technician at Martin Marietta, a blue-collar worker with two years on the job, a wife and a kid. He doesn't know a whole lot about stocks or bonds, he admits, but he does know things are getting rather crazy lately, what with Marietta and the Bendix Corp. tangling on Wall Street like sumo wrestlers.
It concerns him, he remarked, but not so much that he's losing sleep over it. "All in all," said 28-year-old George Marquess, as he sat back after quitting time today and thought a moment about it, "I'd say everybody's been watching too much 'Dynasty.' "
Here at Marietta's Aerospace Center on the banks of the Middle River, where the B1 bomber and wings for the DC10 are manufactured, Marquess' view of the corporate war was shared today by some of the company's 925 other union workers.
Some were vaguely bewildered, some were unconcerned, and some fretted mildly about losing their jobs or having to work for an entirely different employer. But most seemed to view the situation with a distinct and earthy sense of humor and realism.
"Forty-one years I've been here; been laid off six or seven times in my time," said Bob Hammond, a ruddy-faced machinist who was reading the comics before going to work on the 4 p.m. shift.
"I'll be getting out soon, and to tell you the truth, I don't know Bendix from Adam. But I'll tell you one thing," he went on, "the work's gonna get done regardless who owns it."
The Marietta Aerospace Center is sandwiched off Eastern Boulevard in Baltimore County between the Middle River and the Glenn L. Martin State Airport. It's a mammoth, high-security industrial park replete with a satellite dish, large hangars and futuristic factories outfitted with sleek, white aluminum siding.
Since 1929, this section of the county has been at the very heart of Baltimore's aerospace industry, which peaked during the years of World War II and immediately thereafter when as many as 53,000 workers were employed here, according to local union officials.
There are only about 2,500 employes here at Marietta today, including engineering, designers, pipefitters, machinists, assembly workers and others who consider the Wall Street maneuvering a strange game for wealthy business people. As far as many of them are concerned, it might just as well be taking place in another world.
"As far as I know, it's all about egos and power. The only thing I know about Bendix is that guy who married his secretary," said Carl Groves, chairman of the bargaining committee for UAW-CIO Local 738, which administers this area.
Both he and union President Art Stout said they know little about the takeover bid except what they read in the newspapers.
Marietta offficials said they haven't told employes not to talk to the media about the takeover fight, "but we are discouraging that kind of thing." The officials said Marietta is keeping its employes up to date on the latest takeover twists through a steady stream of letters and company releases.
"Sure we're concerned," said Stout, a gravel-voiced quality control inspector at Marietta. "But whoever ultimately wins, we know they have to honor their commitments to the union." To back up his statement, he proudly displayed a letter he had just received from union headquarters in Detroit. Referring to the corporate showdown, union official Gordon Fleming wrote, "A successful takeover by Bendix will not change Marietta's legal obligation to honor the labor agreement with the UAW."
"The only way you can tell for sure what those guys are up to is to get inside the board rooms with them. Somebody's made a lot of money in the stock market out of all of this," Stout went on. "But the only thing that concerns me is the union and the work.
"We've got a long history here. We built the Titan missile, seaplanes, bombers and the China Clipper. The work will go on."
Because its employes are "hard at work," one official said yesterday, they haven't had to time to stage pep rallies along the lines of the ones Bendix threw for thousands of its employes, some of whom own stock in their company.
"The employes at Bendix got time-amd-a-half for that hokie demonstration. We wouldn't stage such an affair.
"Our employes are hard at work. We have a big company to run, and we are running it," the official said.
At the plant, as the 4 p.m. whistle blew, crowds of workers--some toting briefcases, others lunch pails, hurried past the security gates for their cars and homes.
"I like it here. I don't know a lot about Bendix, but I don't think things will change if they take over," said welder Harry Dieter, who sported a bright red T-shirt stenciled with the words "B1 Bomber." "Actually I just wish the hotshots would leave well-enough alone. We're doing all right."
Bruce Simpson, a 30-year-old assembly worker, agreed. "I've got a belief that all big companies are actually owned somewhere or other by bigger companies already," he said. "The ones who will lose out are the corporate higher-ups, but even they have their golden umbrellas," he went on, referring to the executives' contractual guarantees.
Most workers seem to agree that it wouldn't make much difference whose logos were on their paychecks, as long as the paychecks continued. But just in case Bendix does succeed, a group of employes who play for a company softball team have been fooling around with a new nickname: "The Bendix Bombers," one of them said, doesn't sound too bad.