Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It's About the Workers

In light of the news that G.M. and Chrysler are seeking $14 billion more from the federal government, I have to agree with the point that Robert Reich is trying to make in this commentary:

I'm not arguing against an auto bailout. But its purpose ought to be to help American auto workers keep their jobs, regardless of whether they work for GM or Toyota or anyone else. Or if they lose their jobs, help them get new ones that pay almost as well.

Yet we seem to be on the road to doing exactly the opposite: paying the Big Three billions of taxpayer dollars to keep them afloat, while they cut tens of thousands of American jobs and slash wages. We're transferring money from taxpayers to Big Three shareholders for no apparent reason other than the Big Three are headquartered in America.

Let's get real. The Big Three have blown it for years -- designing cars that an increasing number of Americans don't want to buy. This fierce downturn is pushing them toward reorganization under bankruptcy. There's no reason for taxpayers to foot any of this bill, unless the Big Three agree to keep their workers employed while they try to turn themselves around.

The American auto industry is not the Big Three. It's Americans who make automobiles.

G.M. and Chrysler both are promising to cut tens of thousands more jobs as they ask for more money. Of course given the incredible drop in demand, they must restructure their business model to follow suit. But the question we need to ask is, what are their workers, and what are we, getting for this?

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