France Protects Its Auto Workers

A Lesson from France
“The French government said it would give 6.5 billion euros ($8.4 billion) in low interest loans to Renault SA and PSA Peugeot-Citroen in exchange for pledges that the car makers won’t close any factories or lay off any workers in France for the duration of the funding.” Wall Street Journal 2-10-09

Quel surpris! The French government bailout of France’s auto industry requires the auto companies to continue the employment of the company’s workers! In the US, on the other hand, the government urges the auto industry to “restructure” before receiving bailout funds, principally by laying off workers.

Are US auto workers any less deserving of this pledge? Does government owe them any less, in a time of global economic crisis?

But then nobody asked…

In the US, representatives of the auto workers join the CEO’s in begging for corporate bailout money while conceding that everyone must make sacrifices. It is a foregone conclusion that tens of thousands of workers will lose their jobs for the sake of “restructuring”.

France’s commitment to its auto workers certainly does not spring from any compassion on the part of its government. French President Sarkozy has dedicated his term to breaking the back of France’s unions. He is widely viewed as a French George Bush, seeking to wipeout the social gains of years of struggle in the interest of a harsh competitive regimen.

But the French working class has pushed back with militant, united street actions and strikes. They have joined students, immigrants, retirees, and professionals in resisting. Long derided by arrogant tourists for its labor militancy, France has – ironically – faired better economically than its European counterparts in the face of the world crisis.

The above commentary is from zz’s blog. Note that unemployed French auto workers also enjoy continued access to full health care benefits under France’s national single payer helathcare system.

Green Jobs 2009: Steelworkers Meet Hip-Hoppers and Tree-Huggers

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Photo: AFLCIO’s Richard Trumka at Green Jobs 2009

Blue-Green Insurgency
Gets Fired Up at the
DC Green Jobs Conference

By Carl Davidson
Beaver County Blue

When you walk into a large and stately Washington, DC hotel lobby and find it teeming with thousands of smiling, buzzing people-half in labor union jackets and ball caps, the other half dressed in 30-something hip-hop causal-you know some special is happening.

This was the lively, energized scene for three cold wintry days this Feb 4-6 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, as nearly 3000 activists and organizers gathered for the “Good Jobs, Green Jobs” National Conference. The gathering was convened by more than 100 organizations, representing every major trade union and every major environmental group in the country, among others. Continue reading Green Jobs 2009: Steelworkers Meet Hip-Hoppers and Tree-Huggers

Beaver County’s Recovery in the 1930s

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Photo: Lodge at Raccoon Creek State Park Today. The park was built in the 1930s by CCC teams of unemployed young workers, like the Western PA CCC camp above.

Impact of 1930s
WPA and CCC
Still Seen Locally

By Bob Bauder
Beaver County Times

Feb.1, 2009 – President Barack Obama’s plan for putting Americans to work by rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure is an old idea, dating back to the Great Depression and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Among the alphabet soup of agencies created during the New Deal, the Works Progress Administration stands out as one of the most successful.

From 1935 to 1943, the WPA spent about $10.5 billion (about $159 billion in 2008 dollars) and employed about 8.5 million Americans who would have otherwise been on relief rolls. Continue reading Beaver County’s Recovery in the 1930s