FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Don’t Bail Them Out, Take Them Over

by STANLEY HELLER

Frank Hammer and Dan LaBotz are absolutely right that the attempt by the powers that be to destroy the auto unions is a defining moment for labor just like the PATCO fight in the ‘80s. Labor has to stop cheerleading for their bosses plans, come up with their own, unite with their natural allies and come out into the streets swinging. It should not wait to see what the Obama Administration has in store for it. That the word of the future appointments of Geithner and Summers was joyfully received by the stock market is no good news to us.

Instead of being “realistic” and supporting a bail-out with drastic new cuts in worker pay and benefits, we should set out to reorganize the auto industry from top to bottom as public enterprise. To do it labor needs to join up with the forces that have in recent years turned out people at demonstrations in the hundreds of thousands, the anti-war movement, the immigrants rights movement and the black liberation movement. And labor needs to get out in the streets as soon as possible.

Here’s a modest nine-point plan for the industry:

1. GM., Ford and Chrysler would be merged into one company to be run as a car/bus/transportation business

2. Its cars would come with bumper to bumper warranties of 10 years (up from three years now) and become instantly competitive.

3. The government would provide high quality health care for all auto workers and auto worker retirees. It would be a model program, the prototype for single payer for everyone.

4. For at least a year there would be no layoffs of auto workers. Spread the work around. Let workers who are not producing cars use work time to figure out how to how to make better cars and vehicles. Send some of them full time to schools specializing in research and development.

5. Dump the current Boards of Directors and create a new one, 40% elected by production and white collar workers, another 20% chosen by environmental and consumer organizations, the rest chosen by the government. The company books would be open to the public.

6. Product lines would be reduced especially the macho gas guzzlers. The Hummer would be allowed to sink into the mud. The wasteful practice of making a new model each year would be ended. High mpg and pollution standards would be mandated.

7. The company would figure out ways to make buses that people would be enjoy taking, comfortable and secure with plenty of space for packages. The buses would be networked with smaller public vehicles, Segways, and any number of other transport options to bring people to and from their homes to bus routes.

8. Convert the excess plants in the auto parts sector to useful green jobs. As Diane Feely has pointed out axle plants can be converted to produce wind turbines, a product not currently made in the United States

9. Put a $200,000 cap on executive salaries. There are plenty of people who would work for that piddling salary if the current honchos can’t live on that amount.

This would no doubt require a lot of money, much more than then $25 billion being asked for currently. The US has it. It guarantees $290 billion of toxic Citibank assets at the drop of a hat. The next day it commits $600 billion to buying the debt issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It spends half a trillion a year on current and future costs of its Iraq-Afghanistan imperial wars. If it can afford all that, it can certainly pay to recreate an industry that makes something people actually use.

At its height a million Americans turned out for anti-war marches. Hundreds of thousands of African-Americans took part in the Millions More Movement demonstration in DC in 2005. Millions of immigrants and supporters took part in the May 1 boycott/strike of 2006. All these folks could be recruited to help win a fight for auto provided the union movement made a public promise to start giving active support to their causes.

Another bailout of financial and social failure would merely prolong the Big Three’s death rattle and discredit future government action. We need to think out of the box, out of the factory, out of the corporation. We need something new that will capture the public’s imagination.

Only the very radical is possible.

STANLEY HELLER is a school teacher, a union member for 39 years and creator of the website www.EconomicUprising.8k.com He can be reached at Stanley.Heller@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 23, 2017
John Wight
Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!
Mark Schuller
So What am I Doing Here? Reflections on the Inauguration Day Protests
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think
Binoy Kampmark
Ignored Ironies: Women, Protest and Donald Trump
Gregory Barrett
Flag, Cap and Screen: Hollywood’s Propaganda Machine
Gareth Porter
US Intervention in Syria? Not Under Trump
L. Ali Khan
Trump’s Holy War against Islam
Gary Leupp
An Al-Qaeda Attack in Mali:  Just Another Ripple of the Endless, Bogus “War on Terror”
Norman Pollack
America: Banana Republic? Far Worse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
We Mourn, But We March!
Kim Nicolini
Trump Dump: One Woman March and Personal Shit as Political
William Hawes
We Are on Our Own Now
Martin Billheimer
Last Tango in Moscow
Colin Todhunter
Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s America—and Ours
David Mattson
Fog of Science II: Apples, Oranges and Grizzly Bear Numbers
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail