from AFL-CIO Blog – Class War Against Auto Workers

Corporate Class War:
Pit Worker Against Worker

Thanks to IBEW member Bob Schmetzer for this Article


Q. Why is handing out hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer funds OK if the recipients are Wall Street corporations but not OK if they are Midwest automakers?

A. Automakers are unionized.

As discussion about the Detroit auto industry’s requests for a bridge loan roils throughout the media, a strikingly class-based argument has emerged by Republican ideologists, Big Business apologists and others who oppose saving America’s automakers.

Here’s [1] The Jed Report’s take on one such example, that of Republican Rep. Zack Wamp, who seems to have forgotten that his own health care, retirement benefits and other “legacy” perks are paid for by U.S. taxpayers:

GOP Congressman Zach Wamp (a likely candidate for governor in Tennessee) explains the Republican economic philosophy to Chris Matthews:

1. Low wages are a good thing.

2. The less health care the better.

3. It’s time to let people learn their lessons the hard way.

Wamp didn’t mention one thing: Even though he opposes bridge loans to the blue-collar auto industry, he [2] supported the $700 billion bailout for the white-collar financial industry.

Wamp told Matthews:

Volkswagen just invested in Tennessee, in a right-to-work state, at a low-cost, with less health care. Why should we prop others up, when other companies can compete in this marketplace?…It’s time to let these people learn the lesson the hard way.

“These people,” whom the bridge loan would enable to continue at their jobs, are hard workers who have helped make the United States strong, whose wages and benefits helped form the core of the nation’s vital middle class.

Some pundits are pitting [3] the North against the South in an attempt to stir up animosity between those in right-to-work-for-less states whose auto jobs do not offer health coverage or retirement security and the UAW members whose hard-fought contracts helped create the middle class.

And then there’s Brian Williams over at “NBC Nightly News,” who yesterday waxed eloquent about the efficiency of foreign automakers in the South who “don’t have to pay” health care or retirement for their workers, and therefore are much more competitive than the Big Three.

It’s in the interest of corporate giants like GE-owned NBC to support 21st century peonage by hailing conglomerations that provide bare-bones wages with no health care, retirement or other basics. It’s also in their interest to pit worker against worker, region against region, in their quest for ever-more compliant and low-paid employees.

It’s in the corporate interest to wage class war by setting members of the working and middle class against each other.

We must not let them get away with it.

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