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Yep, They’re Still Evil

So, the Republicans in the Senate have killed the auto bailout because they saw an opportunity to bust another union.  Talk about letting ideology drive policy.

Look, I’m no big fan of Detroit.  I drive German cars because aside from my one ton pickup truck there wasn’t an American car I wanted to own.  Management made stupid decisions — the Hummer for pity’s sake?  They never though beyond the next quarter.  

There were union abuses, but they are small money when compared to some of the CEO packages, and the cost of the workers if only 10% of the overhead of the car companies.

I’m pretty sure that doesn’t include all the health and pension benefits to retired workers however, and that is a real problem.  On the other hand people worked thirty years with the promise they would receive these benefits, and to take them away now wouldn’t be fair.  We’ve been making cars for a damn long time in this country, and the benefits were introduced back in the late 1940’s.  Are we really going to tell some eighty year old auto worker that we cutting off his pension?  Do we really want to see an army of old people homeless and hungry out in the streets?  Oh course not, so the taxpayer is going to have to pay one way or the other.

There is also this implicit disdain for the blue collar worker.  When the financial sector started to collapse the Republicans weren’t demanding that all the bright boys and girls at AIG and Citi take paycuts.  (Thought how bright they actually were given the mess we’re in is debatable.)  Remember back a thousand years ago on the 700 billion dollar bailout for Wall Street the Democrats wanted a limit on CEO compensation, and language that made it impossible for this money to go to bonuses or golden parachutes.  The Republicans went ballistic over that.  Some some poor schlub on the assembly line — _he’s_ the problem.

Also, this number you may hear tossed around on Fixed Noise — $71.00 an hour pay for auto workers.   It’s a lie.  It was pulled out of someone’s ass.  Apparently if you add in all the health and pension (which are deferred payments) you can only get the price tag up into the low fifties.

I’m the child of a business owner.  I had disdain for unions, and I had seen abuses when I practiced law.  But times have changed.  The gap between rich and poor is becoming worse then at anytime since the 1920’s.  The power of multi-nationals is so great that workers need some leverage.

When I joined the WGA I learned the power of having thousands of writers at my back.  They protected me when someone tried to put their name on my script.  They have delivered heath care and a pension to people in a very dicey profession.  I’ve changed my stance.  I think unions are a good thing.

 

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