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More Evidence of Union-Busting November 25, 2008

Posted by Kate Ryan in Economy, National Politics.
Tags: , ,

uawIf you didn’t think that the current anti-auto bailout talk was evidence of union-busting, think again.  For two weeks, all we heard was that the Big Three should reorganize under Chapter 11 so that they can get out of labor contracts and legacy costs.  Apparently, paying for people’s health care and giving them pensions are the reasons the U.S. auto manufacturers are failing.  The auto makers were sent home packing after being chastised for flying on corporate jets and told to come back in December – flying coach – with a plan for the $25 billion bridge loan the companies need.  Meanwhile, millions of blue-collar, middle-class jobs hang in the balance.  Locally, GM is closing several lines in December, and reducing employment on others, throwing hundreds here onto unemployment for the Christmas season.  And the relentless assault on unionized blue-collar labor continues at an alarming rate. 


Contrast the treatment of the Big Three auto makers with that of executives of Citigroup – who were bailed out on Monday.  They flew into D.C. on Friday (did they fly commercial?) and with no public hearings or any fanfare, received $200 billion in direct investment and loan guarantees from the Treasury with no questions asked.  Nobody demanded that all their executives be fired.  Nobody asked their employees to give back salaries and benefits.  The many (white-collar non-unionized) employees of Citigroup won’t have to worry about where Christmas is coming from this year.  It just arrived in the form of a blank check from Uncle Sam.

Further evidence of the insidious union-busting that is going on is the attitiudes of the members of Congress from auto-manufacturing states.  In the South – where foreign automakers make cars in non-union factories – Senators like Richard Shelby of Alabama vehemently oppose assisting the Big Three and say that Chapter 11 is the best course.  Those good ‘ole boys down south love that their states can pay second world wages with no benefits to workers.  They don’t want to alienate Toyota, Honda, and Volkswagon – who all, ironically, have to deal with unionized labor in their home countries.  On the other hand are the members from the old industrialized north who see more acutely the problems of “free trade” and globalization.  They support the bailout, preferring to call it a bridge loan, and are fighting to preserve the middle classes in their states.  There is a new civil war brewing in this country.  Who comes out on top with largely be influenced by who wins this fight.



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