Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Michigan is coming back to Congress, hat in hand, and they’re taking the family station wagon to get there. The suddenly chastened CEO’s of the big three automakers are driving to Washington from Detroit in an effort to show that they really, really need the bail-out money that Pelosi has been withholding. This cartoonish display of faux populism is almost comical, but for the fact that all three retrenchment plans on offer essentially rely on gutting the workforce, thus sacrificing the very jobs that Congress claims to be interested in saving.
The Times reports that, “G.M., the world’s largest automaker for decades, said Tuesday that it was in such dire straits that it would deeply cut jobs, factories, brands and executive pay as part of its plea to get $12 billion in federal loans and an additional $6 billion line of credit. G.M. also promised that it could be competitive on labor costs with Toyota by 2012… G.M. (also) said it would cut more than 20 percent of its remaining jobs, shut nine factories, seek to renegotiate the terms of $66 billion in debt, and push to reopen contract talks with the United Automobile Workers to reduce labor costs.” Excuse me, but what is the point of saving the American auto industry with taxpayer money if the end result is still the loss of thousands of American jobs? Who, exactly, is benefiting by this government subsidy? Principally shareholders, I suppose. If Congress really wants to benefit the American worker they should nationalize the auto industry and eliminate the executive officers whole cloth. Needless to say, this option isn’t being considered.
For its part, the UAW isn’t taking this obvious attempt to put the nail in the coffin of organized labor quietly. “The U.A.W. can’t be the low-hanging fruit,” said UAW chairman Ron Gettlefinger. “While we’re at the table, we’re asking that others come in and sacrifice as well.” The sacrifice presumably means more than a chauffeured drive to Washington in a SUV hybrid. If I were the UAW or in Congress I’d be looking to recoup some of that $22,000,000 in compensation that Ford CEO Alan Mulally was paid last year and which he haughtily claimed entitlement to in his Congressional testimony. Seriously folks, it’s easy to make a token concession like accepting $1 in compensation for 2009 when you were paid $22 million in 2008. That money should be seized by Congress and redistributed to the line workers.
30 year veteran GM line worker Doug Hanscomb pretty much summed it up the other day when he said, “I know one thing. If I lose my pension, I bet you Rick Wagoner” — the G.M. chief executive — “and all those guys won’t lose theirs.” Clearly, here in America, we take care of the top first and let the people who do the actual work fend for themselves. It has been ever thus.
Posted by Mark at 10:50 AM