Dec 12, 2008
Senate Republicans put power and politics ahead of the country and people
If anyone had any doubt that the U.S. Senate Republicans opposition to federal loans to save the U.S. domestic auto industry was just an excuse to break the United Auto Workers (UAW) and kill the middle class, the decision by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and his GOP cronies to scuttle the hard fought negotiations that would have provided a $14 billion loan package is proof of that.
Apparently, the loss of some 3 million jobs and a national depression are worth killing a group that primarily backed Democrats to McConnell and company. According to the AP, Senate Republicans killed a deal that had already passed the House because the UAW declined to arbitrarily cut wage cuts to "bring their pay into line with U.S. plants of Japanese carmakers. The UAW refused to do so before its current contract with the automakers expires in 2011." "Republicans insisted that the carmakers …bring wages and benefits in line with those paid by Toyota, Honda and Nissan in the United States."
Since when do foreign companies carry so much weight in U.S.? This comes just a year after the UAW agreed to an historic contract that created a two-tier pay stem that dramatically reduced wages for new workers; to as low as $14 an hour. The UAW also agreed to return to the bargaining table as a condition to get the loan. It makes no sense to arbitrarily agree to such a ridiculous demand.
Judy over at LivingBlue offers an excelent analysis of the $400 billion in subsidies and giveaways at taxpayer expense a foreign manufacturer got in a southern, non-union state while denying a $14 billon loan to a U.S. manufacturer and 3 U.S. million workers.
The solution should be for the Japanese plants to organize to lift all workers up to a decent, living wage and benefits, but the foreign companies make that extremely difficult. They locate in rural, conservative areas like Kentucky that are hard to get to by organizers and that are grateful to have any job that's off the farm. That's why there are so many meat packing plants in rural settings. Then there are the trained union busters.
According to the AP, "Hourly wages for UAW workers at GM factories are about equal to those paid by Toyota Motor Corp. at its older U.S. factories, according to the companies. GM says the average UAW laborer makes $29.78 per hour, while Toyota says it pays about $30 per hour. But the unionized factories have far higher benefit costs."
Good for them. Of course, the foreign auto makers have less so-called "legacy costs." A legacy cost is a retiree like my dad who worked all of their lives to enjoy a decent retirement. Yet, a minority of Republicans put politics and power before the country and people. There's a reason they go their ass kicked in the last election.
Maybe the next time we are in a massive war like World War II, we can ask the foreign manufactures if they would please make our tanks, armored vehicles, weapons, vehicles and aircraft. Let's hope the Chinese never call in their debt we owe them; they have more people than we do, all the money and now all the manufacturing. Instead of Detroit being the "Arsenal of Democracy" that honor can now can go to Beijing.
This decision to screw the worker and the country is in sharp contract to the $700 billion no-strings attached giveaway to the banks and the finical industry.
$14 billion loan $700 billon free
Require oversight, like a car czar No oversight
Auto CEOs hand to submit a plan None required
Required employee concessions None required
Scrutinized mode of transportation Phoned it in