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

 

 

 


 


Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 29, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Politics of Betrayal: Obama Backstabs Kurds to Appease Turkey
Conn Hallinan
Ukraine: Close to the Edge
Joshua Frank
The Wheels Fell Off the Bernie Sanders Bandwagon
Rob Wallace
Neoliberal Ebola: the Agroeconomic Origins of the Ebola Outbreak
Stephen Lendman
The Show Trial of Saif Qaddafi: a Manufactured Death Sentence
Dmitry Kolesnik
The ‘Ichkerization’ Crime Wave in Ukraine
Joyce Nelson
Scott Walker & Stephen Harper: A New Bromance
Bill Blunden
The Red Herring of Digital Backdoors and Key Escrow Encryption
Thomas Mountain
The Sheepdog Politics of Barack Obama
Farzana Versey
A President and a Yogi: Abdul Kalam’s Symbolism
Norman Pollack
America’s Decline: Internal Structural-Cultural Subversion
Foday Darboe
How Obama Failed Africa
Cesar Chelala
Russia’s Insidious Epidemic
Tom H. Hastings
Defending Democracy
David Macaray
Why Union Contracts are Good for the Country
Virginia Arthur
The High and Dry Sierras
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Vacy Vlanza
Without BDS, Palestine is Alone