We’ve been watching the Congressional hearings and the bailout developments with the Big 3–General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler–and have been following the new plan to insert a Car Czar into the mix. Having been hoodwinked by bank leaders who took the money and ran to spas and their shareholders before answering questions on how they got into this mess, current planners want answers before they cut checks.
While MWRO doesn’t approve of any corporate welfare, it strikes us as unfair that automakers, whose majority of employees are blue collar workers, are being held to more scrutiny and higher standards than white collar Wall Street bankers. Before this latest fiasco, factory employees and workers in related industries already made major concessions in pay and benefits to keep these companies alive. Any trips to the spa were stopped a long time ago as it became harder to hold onto your job and your home. As reported on the UAW website:
The Economic Policy Institute reports that 3.3 million jobs would be lost if U.S. automakers collapse, with Michigan, California, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, Indiana and New York the biggest job losers.
Skilled United Automotive Workers (UAW) have made massive contributions to the labor standards that millions of U.S. (and international) workers have achieved: sit-down strikes forcing companies to bargain with employees, increased paid vacation, paid holidays, calls for postwar equal pay and full employment for women, cost-of-living pay increases, workers pensions, Supplemental Unemployment Benefits, paid hospitalization and sick day benefits, medical benefits for retirees, and more.
Sure, the Big 3 have plenty to answer for when it comes to poor quality vehicles and designs in recent times; and for dragging their feet to build environmentally friendly cars and trucks. But Michigan and the Midwest were built on the hard factory work and hard fought union organizing of people employed in these plants.
Detroit and southeast Michigan have suffered massively in jobs losses and housing foreclosures. Some say it’s time for Detroit and Michigan to move beyond a manufacturing economy and embrace new technology and new employment sectors (like life sciences). The technology is already here, as evidenced by the increased roboticization of factory work where workers are replaced by robots that don’t need benefits or bathroom breaks. But before Michigan workers can look toward tomorrow, they need some governmental help to maintain life today.