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:
Weekend Edition
February 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Richard D. Wolff
Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story
Paul Street
Where’s the Beef Stroganoff? Eight Sacrilegious Reflections on Russiagate
Jeffrey St. Clair
They Came, They Saw, They Tweeted
Andrew Levine
Their Meddlers and Ours
Charles Pierson
Nuclear Nonproliferation, American Style
Joseph Essertier
Why Japan’s Ultranationalists Hate the Olympic Truce
W. T. Whitney
US and Allies Look to Military Intervention in Venezuela
John Laforge
Maybe All Threats of Mass Destruction are “Mentally Deranged”
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: an American Reckoning
David Rosen
For Some Reason, Being White Still Matters
Robert Fantina
Nikki Haley: the U.S. Embarrassment at the United Nations
Joyce Nelson
Why Mueller’s Indictments Are Hugely Important
Joshua Frank
Pearl Jam, Will You Help Stop Sen. Tester From Destroying Montana’s Public Lands?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Attack on Historical Perspective
Conn Hallinan
Immigration and the Italian Elections
George Ochenski
The Great Danger of Anthropocentricity
Pete Dolack
China Can’t Save Capitalism from Environmental Destruction
Joseph Natoli
Broken Lives
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Did Russia Vote For Trump?
Geoff Dutton
One Regime to Rule Them All
Torkil Lauesen – Gabriel Kuhn
Radical Theory and Academia: a Thorny Relationship
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Work of Persuasion
Thomas Klikauer
Umberto Eco and Germany’s New Fascism
George Burchett
La Folie Des Grandeurs
Howard Lisnoff
Minister of War
Eileen Appelbaum
Why Trump’s Plan Won’t Solve the Problems of America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
Ramzy Baroud
More Than a Fight over Couscous: Why the Palestinian Narrative Must Be Embraced
Jill Richardson
Mass Shootings Shouldn’t Be the Only Time We Talk About Mental Illness
Jessicah Pierre
Racism is Killing African American Mothers
Steve Horn
Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests
David Griscom
When ‘Fake News’ is Good For Business
Barton Kunstler
Brainwashed Nation
Griffin Bird
I’m an Eagle Scout and I Don’t Want Pipelines in My Wilderness
Edward Curtin
The Coming Wars to End All Wars
Missy Comley Beattie
Message To New Activists
Jonah Raskin
Literary Hubbub in Sonoma: Novel about Mrs. Jack London Roils the Faithful
Binoy Kampmark
Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow
Chelli Stanley
The Mirrors of Palestine
James McEnteer
How Brexit Won World War Two
Ralph Nader
Absorbing the Irresistible Consumer Reports Magazine
Cesar Chelala
A Word I Shouldn’t Use
Louis Proyect
Marx at the Movies
Osha Neumann
A White Guy Watches “The Black Panther”
Stephen Cooper
Rebel Talk with Nattali Rize: the Interview
David Yearsley
Market Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail