Republicans torpedo auto bailout for failing to bust the UAW

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Republicans torpedo auto bailout for failing to bust the UAW

"The Senate on Thursday night abandoned efforts to fashion a government rescue of the American automobile industry, as Senate Republicans refused to support a bill endorsed by the White House and Congressional Democrats.

The failure to reach agreement on Capitol Hill raised a specter of financial collapse for General Motors and Chrysler, which say they may not be able to survive through this month.

. . . .

The automakers would also have been required to cut wages and benefits to match the average hourly wage and benefits of Nissan, Toyota and Honda employees in the United States.

It was over this proposal that the talks ultimately deadlocked with Republicans demanding that the automakers meet that goal by a certain date in 2009 and Democrats and the union urging a deadline in 2011 when the U.A.W. contract expires.

G.M. and Chrysler have said the two companies would likely not survive through this month without government aid, and the companies had already agreed to carry out sweeping reorganization plans in exchange for the help."

"For more proof that the Republican opposition to the auto bridge loan is ideologically based class war against workers and their unions, look no further than yesterday’s comments by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who wants to force the American auto industry—at the cost of 3 million to 5 million U.S. jobs—to its knees:

I’m not trying to get rid of the unions but I am saying that they appear to be an antiquated concept in today’s economy and if a company cannot be competitive with the union structure that they have then we need to recognize that.

…Most of this is being done to protect unions. It’s not to protect the workers. What I want to do is make sure we have jobs for these workers and we have first-class American auto companies and we’re not going to do that with the barnacles of unionism wrapped around their necks."



Yeah. When the management of those companies give up their private jets and fat bonuses and stock options, and they take a wage cut? Then we'll talk about the UAW making even more concessions than they already have over the years.


Lordy. With my dial-up connection and this cumbersome site [that does what now?] I'm having a hell of a time being part of this discussion.

The original thread understandably gets closed for union bashing. But that was while I was having a hard time posting my reply to the now closed thread. So I open a new thread. But THAT takes me so long to make it work, that in the meantime someone else opens a new thread and Michelle must have closed mine as dupliction [don't know for sure why since I can't read her comment].

And it takes me a number of failed attempts to navigate the steps for moving my comment to this thread I try to have it part of.

Even though my comment is broader than a reply to the original union bashing post, I'm still going to repost that first. So here is copied from the aborted thread "UAW declines bullet to head."


"Well, the UAW has finally done it this time. They've given the right wing all they need to make unions look like villains for the next fifty years, and given governments enough justification to dismantle unions across the globe.

At a time when the big three auto-manufacturers are struggling for survival, the US government is demanding that UAW wages fall into line with the Japanese auto workers. 

But the UAW is not willing to make that concession until 2011. 

So in essence, we have workers working for a non-profitable business on the verge of bankruptcy that make considerably more in wages and benefits than their counterparts at Toyota and Honda (who still do pretty well). But rather than accept a lower wage, these union employees are now asking the American public to subsidize these companies and top up their wage. 

I think most Americans have no problem topping up the wage of a single mother earning minimum wage, or the handicapped, or even someone who is just out of work, but to ask the American taxpayer to chip in so that people making 80,000 a year (with phenomenal benefits) don't have to take a paycut, is just absurd. 

People haven't begrudged auto-workers from making very good wages, since they were merely sharing in the profits of a massively succesful business. But they aren't exactly succesful now, and these autoworkers still seem to feel entitled to the wage that they were earning previously despite everything going on around them. 

The golden goose of auto-manufacturing is dead, and not far behind, is high-paying union jobs for the foreseeable future. " 


There is no amount of surrender to the US right wing that would satisfy them, so the thread title is a non-starter.

Interesting side-note: in Canada the print media headlines pin the blame for the bailout collapse on the UAW [even when the text of the story talks a lot about Republican intransigence]. But the headlines in the US are about the general dire situation.

And lets look at the blackmail that was demanded in the so-called Republican "compromise". The bailout package passed the House easily and had Bushes support. It was also gauranteed a majority in the Senate, but not the 60-40 "super majority" required to block the filibuster that is the Republican standard practice of killing legislation. AND, some of those bullying Republican senators in the minority are lame ducks who lost their seats.

The so-called compromise demanded of the UAW that it negotiate for equivalent pay and benefits to the non-union Southern Asian manufacturers within 6 months, and that it accept half stock instead of cash for company penson contributions. [In other words take only half funding for pensions, and if retirees are lucky the stock will be worth something.]

The UAW has been making huge concessions for years now. And every time they do Toyota and Nissan drop wages and benefits in unison. Its a race for a goal post that keeps moving back... not "catching up". Wages in the non-union are already the same. "Negotiating" the benefit packages to be the same would end the UAW. Period.

Thats fine with the Southern Senators that pushed this. And you can be their Canadian dupe if you want.


The race to the bottom.


"The Treasury Department said Friday that it would step in and lend funds to the Big 3 auto-makers until Congress has time to consider a long-term rescue package next year. . . .   "Because Congress failed to act, we will stand ready to prevent an imminent failure until Congress reconvenes and acts to address the long-term viability of the industry," Treasury spokeswoman Brooklyn McLaughlin said in a statement. Funds for the auto companies are likely to come from the Trouble Asset Relief plan. The decision to use TARP funds is a shift in the previous White House position that the $700 billion dollars should be limited to stabilizing the financial sector."

Agent 204 Agent 204's picture

Not all vehicle manufacturers are suffering, though:

New Flyer Industries has racked up more than $1 billion in orders over the
last three months, driven by the recent spike in fuel prices and
concerns about the economy.

It is the first time the Winnipeg bus
maker has reached the $1-billion sales milestone during a quarter. The
value of its order backlog has ballooned by 50 per cent this year.

The company said Thursday it is further evidence of the recession-resistant nature of the business.

Asham, New Flyer's CEO, said the strong sales are a result of increased
ridership throughout North America, spurred on at the beginning of the
year by sky-high fuel prices and more recently by economic concerns.

"I would suggest the current recessionary environment we are in is causing people to watch their cash flow," Asham said.

largest of the new orders was from the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)
which is purchasing up to 900 60-foot diesel-electric hybrid buses.
Since 2002, CTA has ordered a total of 1,258 buses from New Flyer.

Winnipeg Free Press