Nov 21, 2008
Proposed auto company loans serve as excuse to bust unions
If you had the opportunity to save 3 million U.S. jobs from being lost, most people would say it’s a no-brainer and you would do it in order to not worsen the U.S. recession, but U.S. lawmakers are balking at giving the Big 3 automakers a loan to save those jobs.
It's ironic that we just threw $700 billon at banks with zero accountability, no strings and no guarantee any of it will be paid back, but we don't want to loan money to save 3 million jobs. I have a sneaky suspicion this is just one more attempt to break the union, a goal of Republicans for years.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) is being blamed for the woes of the U.S. auto industry, despite the fact that the credit crunch is making money for car loans scarce as moderate Republicans and cutting into sales. I saw some bozo on CNN last night from the rightwing Heritage Foundation making the outrageous claim that the average UAW workers make $70 an hour. Nothing could be further from the truth
People quickly forgot the huge concessions the UAW made in the contract that was settled in 2007. The Voluntary Employee Benefit Association (VEBA) agreement that will be ran by the union that will over approximately 500,000 retired auto workers and took more than 70 billon in obligations off the books for the Big 3.
The two-tier wage system means new workers will make less than foreign car makers at some $14 an hour. That is not much money. To make matters worse, foreign car makers get government help with health care that adds more than $2,000 to the cost of an American car.
We can expect to see a big push to approve so-called "right to work" laws that really means the right to work for less. The UAW almost single-handily created the middle class, and this is just one more assault on the middle class.
Proponents of so-called "Right to Work" claim the law would do away with the requirement that workers must be in a union to be employed at a union shop. However, federal law already protects workers who don't want to join a union to get or keep their jobs, and gives workers the right to opt out of a union. But they must still pay union dues. RTW would give them the option of not paying dues while still enjoying the benefits of being in a union.
Unions in RTW states are required by law to defend non-dues-paying members involved in a dispute or charged with a grievance at work, but even those employees do not have to contribute dues. RTW does not give workers more rights, but instead it weakens unions and their ability to bargain for improved benefits and working conditions, which is the real intent of RTW. The union, by law, must represent all workers equally.
Earlier this year I read " The World Is Flat" by Thomas L. Friedman. The book makes the case for the benefits of globalization, saying the convergence of technology and events has allowed counties like India, Communist China and other Third World countries to become part of the global supply chain for services and manufacturing that has raised the standard of living. He claims it is not a race to the bottom for wages when companies send entire factories to Communist China so they can pay rock bottom wages of a $1 an hour because those workers will eventually organize and all workers will see an increase in wages, benefits and the standard of living will improve.
He ignores the desperate union busting in the U.S. We even have foreign companies locating in the southern U.S. where the unions aren't as strong so they can take advantage of workers.
Union organizers in China are being jailed for organizing workers. Workers in China are prevented from forming independent unions and many have been arrested for attempting to exercise that right and for defending other workers’ rights.