|Known for||Labor activism in the 1970s|
Mike Cooley (born 1934) is an Irish-born engineer and former trade union leader, best known for his involvement in workplace activism at the British company Lucas Aerospace in the late 1970s. In 1981, he was a recipient of the Right Livelihood Award. Cooley was born in Tuam, Ireland, and studied engineering in Germany, Switzerland and England. He has held several leadership positions in the field of computer-aided design.
Towards the end of the 1970s, Mike Cooley was a designer at Lucas Aerospace, and chaired the local branch of the technical trade union TASS. He was one of the militant activists behind the Lucas Plan, a radical strategy to avoid workforce layoffs by converting production at Lucas from armaments to civilian products.
The vision of the plan was to replace weapons manufacture with the development of socially useful goods, like solar heating equipment, artificial kidneys, and systems for intermodal transportation. The goal was to not simply retain jobs, but to design the work so that the workers would be motivated by the social value of their activities. The proposals of the alternative plan were not accepted by Lucas management, and Cooley was dismissed, allegedly because of excessive time spent upon union business or "concerns of society as a whole".
Architect or Bee
In 1980, Cooley published a critique of the automation and computerization of engineering work under the title Architect or Bee? The human/technology relationship. The title alludes to a comparison made by Karl Marx, on the issue of the creative achievements of human imaginative power. It was this book that initiated the idea of Human-Centred Systems.
Since departing from Lucas, Cooley has been active as an advisor on numerous public and private sector projects. He is a founding member and president of the International Institute of Human Centred Systems. He has published over 100 scientific papers as well as fifteen books, and has been a guest lecturer at universities in Europe, Australia, the USA and Japan. Cooley is an adviser to the technical periodical Artificial Intelligence and Society.
- Cooley, Mike (1982). Architect or Bee? The human/technology relationship. Boston: South End Press. ISBN 0-89608-131-1.
- The Lucas Plan by Hilary Wainwright Schocken Books (1981) ISBN 978-0-8052-8098-2
- "1976: The fight for useful work at Lucas Aerospace". libcom.org. 2006-9-13. Retrieved 2013-9-16.
- "The Right Livelihood Award website". Retrieved 2013-10-16.
- cf Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, On the Sanctity of Work: , "A spider conducts operations that resemble those of a weaver, and a bee puts to shame many an architect in the construction of her cells. But what distinguishes the worst architect from the best of bees is this, that the architect raises his structure in imagination before he erects it in reality."