Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Seize the auto plants

Don’t Bail Them Out, Take Them Over

By Stanley Heller

There’s an old story about a man who comes home and finds his wife in
bed with his best friend. He pulls out a gun and points it to his own
head. His wife starts laughing and he says, “Don’t laugh. You’re next”

The point is when we’re upset we sometimes take actions that we don’t
think out properly.

Casino Capitalism has crashed and when the Lords of Detroit come to
Uncle Sam (by private jet) asking for another $25 billion people are
understandably outraged. The gut reaction is, “Not another bailout.
Let the S.O.B.’s go under.”

The problem is if the Big 3 auto go under there will be millions
unemployed, quickly. The Center for Automotive Research estimates that
if the three companies shut down 3,000,000 jobs will be lost in the
first year. Three million!

Now forget for a moment about the devastating impact to the people
thrown out of work. If this was 1998 and auto went down, it would be a
nasty shock but the economy would recover. But now we’ve been
staggered by a terrific slump in housing, a worldwide credit freeze,
and a worldwide recession. To add to that mix a US Midwest collapsed
into an industrial black hole is a recipe for turning recession into a

Some say if the Big Three goes bankrupt those terrible 8
0lavish” labor
contracts can be redone to make the companies competitive.

Let’s take a look at the contracts.

In 2008 General Motors, paid its production workers an average of $28
an hour. That would be a base of about $56,000 a year, based on a
2,000-hour work year. That’s scarcely a princely sum. Add to that
$12,000 a year in health care premiums (because the backward USA
doesn’t have national health care). That brings the cost to GM up to
$34 dollars an hour. Add money set aside for pension and GM’s cost
goes up to a final total of $41 an hour. (A recent retiree made
$30,000 a year in pension. Nothing fantastic there, probably what
teachers average.)

GM’s biggest burden is “legacy” costs, pension and health-care payment
for retirees. GM has 2.5 retirees for one active worker. On this the
United Auto Workers can be criticized, not for getting these benefits,
but for thinking the auto workers could enjoy these benefits in
isolation. Instead of turning into “realistic” Democrats they should
have stayed union militants and spearheaded a real fight for
single-payer national health care and better Social Security.

This year GM forced a lousy contract down the throats of the UAW. New
hires pay the price. They’re going to get $14 an hour in base pay and
get reduced benefits. Second class workers, indefinitely. P
lus health
care for retirees is being done in a new way. Instead of GM paying for
you health insurance, GM will fork over a one time payment of money and
thereafter the union would pay for health care from this fund (from
which they have to depend on the stock market to keep healthy!) With
this drastic cost cutting at the end of the new contract worker costs
could be no more and perhaps less than the Asian car companies in the

It’s easy and traditional to blame pampered workers if you’ve never
actually worked in an auto factory (Back a few years ago a jury
acquitted an auto worker who killed his boss on grounds that the man’s
working conditions had driven him crazy). Not many are talking about
the Big Three blunders in buying up the Saab, Fiat, Suzuki, Daewoo,
Jaguar, Volvo, and Land Rover brands and or their adventures in the
happy world of High Finance or their SUV mania

Working people would have to be mad to sit by while auto workers are
reduced to menial wages. It would reduce everyone’s pay. This country
is immensely rich with (apparently) unending credit from other
countries. The money is there for another way.

That way wasn’t in view at the Congressional bail-out hearing. The
hearings were a PR disaster for auto. People saw through the claims
that prosperity for the car companies was just around the corner. Th
saw a bailout as only delaying the inevitable.

As far as I can see there are two paths. One is to be “realistic” and
support the auto execs as they come up with a new plan, one with even
more devastating cuts in worker pay and benefits. The other is to
reorganize the industry from top to bottom as public enterprise. I’ve
never worked in auto, but I offer these suggestions as a way to get
auto workers and other interested people into thinking how a successful
“Uncle Sam Motors” might be run.

1. The US would takeover the Big Three and turn it into one company to
be run as a car/bus/transportation money-making business.

2. It would make US cars competitive by increasing new car bumper to
bumper warranties from three years to 10 years.

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 turn things around, how to make better cars
and vehicles.

5. Current Boards of directors would be dumped and a new one would be
created , 40% elected by production and white color workers, the rest
chosen by the government. The company books would be open to the =0

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.

7. The company would figure out ways to make buses of various sizes
that people would be happy to take, comfortable and with plenty space
for packages and/or Segways or any number of other transport options.

A bailout of financial and social failure would prolong the agony and
discredit future government action. We need to think out of the box,
out of the factory, out of the corporation.

Only the very radical is possible.

Stanley Heller is a school teacher, a union member for 39 years and
creator of the website He can be reached


Greg DeOrnellas to me
show details Nov 21 (5 days ago)


Hi Tom, Gettelfinger should have pointed out that a secure middle-class is crucial to the demand side of our nation`s economy.Middle class UAW workers purchase goods and services from a variety of businesses as well as contribute income and real estate taxes.When a manufacturing plant packs up and leaves the USA heading towards a foreign country people not only lose their jobs but the entire region where that plant was located suffers a drop in prosperity as well.The products that were made may return as cheaper priced imports{not the case for automobiles} for US consumers but everything else is a loss.Everyone who testified in Washington D.C. did an average job at best.They should have stressed how this Government assistance was a loan and would be paid back to the Treasury with interest.Finally Tom the private jet issue is a 'Red Herring' it is good business practice for a large International Corporation to establish a business that leases planes back to the corporation for tax purposes and business efficiency.So,Mulally can just walk through an air port without getting blasted by comments and stares,right?So, it is cheaper to buy out the entire first class section of a commercial airliner,right?I give up Tom,people hate each other.It is only $$$$ that keeps us functioning.Before you go and chastise my attitude keep in mind one ancient prophesy, 'The Battle of Armageddon'.Good Luck.You are all decent intelligent people in your group.I respect you all but the average person is a brainwashed lemming.It is hopeless.Good Luck

Friday, November 21, 2008

Unions & Poverty

Here's a link to the poverty situation in our country. While it is important to fight for the middle class and family-owned business it is also part of our job to fight for the folks who have less than most of us.

This fight means getting better jobs for all and it is the fight that brought my union, the UAW to the fore of the American Good Fight. The UAW has abandoned that fight for Solidarity and the modernist corporate UAW is now being held up for much ridicule.

People should know that the UAW once fought for everyone, fought for a better society and world for all.

We have said for quite a few years that the ultimate judgement on a union is not what it is doing for the corporations but for the poor. And it is a shame, that when you visit Detroit, or Cleveland, or any of the former industrial cities that you can see poverty on every street corner. That is the fault of big unions gone wrong.

Beyond the auto bailout and hopefully a reorganization of auto production that will allow all the workers ownership and control of product design and quality, we need unions like the UAW to return to their principles and virtues that once made them so great and good for America. If they refuse to do that then we need new unions based in the good of the old. That good came from OUR families, not the corporate mafia.

Check out this site and see how bad off we really are because the unions not only departed from Solidarity, they attacked it.

Solidarity and cooperativeness, not competition, is what we need.

Look back and you can see Solidarity works!


General Strike

In today's Daniel Howe's piece (below) Danny says Ron Gettelfinger forgot where he was the other day in that silly thing in DC.

Gettelfinger forgot a lot of things. Most importantly that Unions are for fighting jerks like the Ultra Rich and winning a Solidarity Society.

It was painful watching this hat-in-hand guy speak for the late great UAW, a Union that, more than any other, was organized to win a better world for all.
What a joke it was watching the Big 3 cake eaters slobbering in front of the DC war-mongering cake eaters. The Commanders of the U.S. War On Workers get lectured on efficiency and wages by the Directors of the $Billion-buck- a-day War On Iraq! But we can bet it was all a game. We can bet that Chrsi Dodd was drinking with the Big 3 Shots minutes after the show. Chirs or $43 million-in-less-than-a-year Al Mullaly may have even paid for Gettelfinger's Shirley Temple. What contempt these people show for us!

(Corp-paid union officials have to go now. It hasn't worked. Corp-directed unions don't work. Hopefully, one of the strings attached to the deal will be that UAW members return to paying their reps. Perhaps Ron could work for the lowest wage he bargains for UAW workers. Maybe the Local reps could even go back to working real jobs on the line until they checked into union business to file a grievance. Maybe the Local reps should go back to walking the line once a month to collect dues. I think this would be much better than having reps lolling around their offices bitching about the workers. I also believe the good reps - the ones who know they work for us - would like this. )
We need to return to The Good Fight for the Common good! If America ever needed a thoughtful, battling, Solidarity Labor Movement it is now. If America ever needed a General Strike it is now. We should be fighting for the 8-hour day. We should be demanding a good job for every American who wants to work. We should be demanding ownership and the reinstatement of family business. The UAW should unite with the Longshore Workers and pay the dockers' wages while they strike against every slave-made product coming into our country. The Teamstsrs should strike against every scab product produced in America.
Let the stuff rot and rust on the docks until we win GOOD JOBS FOR ALL!
I think even Mitt Romney might get it then.
And certainly then, every kid would have a happier future. The troops could come home to a country that still contained their jobs.



Friday, November 21, 2008
Daniel Howes: Commentary
Symbols behind loan smackdown

Congress didn't officially tell Detroit's automakers to "drop dead" Thursday, but it came close.
Around 11 a.m., the industry lost its staunchest defender, Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, to an intraparty squabble symbolizing a war between liberal Democrats tied to anti-Detroit environmental groups and more conservative members allied with the United Auto Workers in the Rust Belt. The environmental wing won.
An hour later, General Motors Corp. Chairman Rick Wagoner says he was encouraged to see on the TV news that the so-called "auto state senators," led by Michigan's Carl Levin, D-Detroit, had reached a bipartisan compromise that would speed a publicly financed $25 billion in "bridge loans" to the automakers.
Two hours later, there was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., saying no, not yet. Detroit's CEOs, fresh from their lackluster performance in the world's biggest political fishbowl, would need to submit plans to Congress demonstrating their viability in exchange for the cash.
Talk about a smackdown. Prepared testimony, two days of hearings before a national audience and the Congress of the United States essentially says "not good enough" to Detroit's automakers. Then it says committee chairs with the names Dodd, D-Conn., and Frank, D-Mass., will bless -- or reject -- your turnaround plans, effectively setting the course for the American-owned auto industry for years to come.
Yikes. But Congress also said this: You didn't bolster your credibility this week as much as you need to if you want a bailout. We'll give you another shot at this because we're in power and we don't want you to go bankrupt. So don't screw it up.
Big Three needs to dig out
As scary as this is for what it says about the a) deep, potentially fatal sickness afflicting Detroit's automakers and b) the deeply sickening injection of politicians and their arcane agendas into business planning, it shouldn't be entirely surprising. The Big Three bosses mostly bombed in two days of testimony on Capitol Hill and their near-term financial prospects are even worse.
Instead of giving skeptical members of Congress good reasons to green-light plans to approve billions in direct loans to GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC, the CEOs muffed questions about their pay -- and that was just the beginning.
United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger forgot he wasn't talking to a Michigan Legislature accustomed to the union's '70s-era riffs on "sacrifice." This is a country where 7.5 percent of the private-sector workforce is unionized, hardly evidence of a majority.
But the CEOs? They muffed it worse, first by walking into a cheap political trap about the use of corporate aircraft. They failed to show how their companies would revive with the help of taxpayer money. And they showed a stunning misunderstanding of symbolism in an overtly political arena.
Symbols matter in bailout
"The importance of substance is critical," GM's Wagoner told The Detroit News on Thursday, "but the importance of symbol is, as well. We understand that."
Now? If these guys want to coalesce their troops and, perhaps, some of the general public around their government-financed rescues, they'll need to get serious about publicly eliminating some of the perks that most of corporate America lives without. They'll send a message and -- gasp! -- save some dough in the process.
Where was Ford Motor Co.'s pledge to close its executive dining room? Why didn't General Motors Corp. pledge to suspend its executive-car programs, complete with free gas and insurance? Did any of the CEOs even consider flying to Washington on Northwest Airlines, preferably in the back of the plane?
Probably not, but I'm guessing they'll be reconsidering after the blowback this week.
Daniel Howes can be reached at (313) 222-2106 or or Catch him Fridays with Paul W. Smith on 760-WJR.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Union Buddies

(Our Local Pres. Rog Terveen, and his "union buddies" were attacked in the Mpls. Trib because Roger asked in an editorial that people consider workers real people.)
Here's an answer:

Roger Terveen's Union Buddies
Put me down as one of Roger's Union buddies. Roger Terveen is a good man. There are not many Union reps left like Roger and that is too bad for all our families and America.
It is refeshing to see even a small reminder these days - where we are ALL now reckoning with the greedy - that there are still Union reps out there who see autoworkers, and all workers as real people.
Unfortunately, the corps and the UAW's porkchoppers pay no heed to the common sense of autoworkers like Roger Terveen. And neither do those who believe that most autoworkers should be ground into dust and those few who survive be assigned poverty wages.
For those interested in human beings, you should know that most of the wage differential enjoyed by autoworkers is not a result of some sort of working class thievery. The wage difference comes from Cost of Living protections against usery. So if we are going to get a handle on COLA we would need to modify interest rates, profiteering and authentic thievery.
But I want to publicly thank Roger Terveen for his courage in defending autoworkers and all working people at this sad time when it is so fashionable to diminish and impoverish us all.
Tom Laney
Union Buddy of Roger Terveen
Retired Ford Worker

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Remembering a True Union friend

Date: 12/16/2000

I would like to share a few thoughts with you all about a friend, Carl Boye, who died Thursday. Most of you don't know Carl but he was an important guy to all of us, to the real labor movement, the real UAW, to our families and communities because he spent his entire life believing in workers and doing his best to kick the capitalists' greedy ass.

It seems like many, many years ago, I considered joining a socialist party and went to see an old friend, Carl, to talk about it. I was a young union rep and frustrated with the uaw's turn to company unionism and I was thinking that lineworkers weren't too hip to the change; that socialists were and that maybe I could find a little more support there.

Carl was really opposed to capitalism and as much in love with working class people as he was disgusted with big business. He worked for Ford before the UAW and was the second president of my Local back in the mid-40's. He was a tough, tough old UAW-CIO type guy who was happiest mixing it up on picketlines when he wasn't driving the bosses nuts at the St. Paul Ford Assembly Plant.

Maybe the CIO type was patterned around Carl or certainly patterned after guys like Carl who believed workers ought to run the show.

He told me he thought going that socialist route was a waste of time even though he was interested in socialist ideas. He never thought communists or socialists really cared about people. He saw them as people who thought themselves more intelligent and better than us. Carl was verrrrry big on common sense as coming from common workers. He was also devoted to democracy and that meant democracy from the shop floor up. He told me that as far as he could see my politics came off the plant floor, that what I was good at was listening and working with lineworkers and "sticking to your guns" which he meant as the lineworkers' guns. He poked a big finger in my chest and said: "YOU DON'T SELL OUT!" I didn't talk back much to Carl either. I always thought he meant that sellout statement two ways, as an observation but also a command - that I didn't sell out but it was an order too, that I better not ever even think of selling out. Much later he told me that I couldn't ever sellout because I was too close to the workers. It was one of the nicest things anyone ever said about me in my entire life because he meant it in the best way.

In Carl's democratic view, if you followed it, you could never sell out, ever, because you always stayed a worker. He told me he thought my politics were better than any party system because I was still willing to fight for what I believed in when I was a lineworker. He taught me to always look for the best Union people in our plant, to stay close to them, to listen, argue, fight with them even, over everything we thought was important to make the Union stronger. "There's your party, the workers," Carl said. "You don't need to go to some goddam party headquarters to have someone else tell you what to think. Stick with the best people. You will always find that the better the person, the better the Union man. [Carl worked in our plant when there were no women.] Just listen. They'll tell you what to do. Just listen, but don't ever waste time with the company stooges - they don't have it. You can't change 'em. They're the enemy, you have to fight 'em."

He taught me to never pay too much attention to big shots - never to pay heed to company bigshots. And, only seldom to the UAW bigshots. He could never accept that the UAW had become so dismal as to freeload in Vegas with corporate execs and enter company unionism. It was so far away from his experience and everything he valued so deeply about the UAW that he just tuned it out. It was like, "What's going on in the plant?"

"The bargaining committee's in Palm Springs with the company."

"No. What's going on in the plant?"

"They're speeding up the line and cutting jobs."


Carl had mucho health problems. His legs were paralyzed and he spent the last 25 years in a wheel chair. Since he had retired 2 years before I started at Ford I had only heard legendary stuff about his life in the plant. Things like running a whole heat of glass onto the floor when a line foreman tried to ignore him on a grievance. They fired him for that but he never made it as far as the front door because the glass workers said, "Might as well fire us too because we ain't working without Carl." Carl just saw himself in his committeeman days as a guy who simply worked for the lineworkers. He didn't set out to "lead" them. The relationship was that THEY led HIM. The lineworkers were his boss and the Ford Motor Co. could go screw itself on everything.

I met Carl at a Saturday meeting of the Progressive Roundtable; he was the bright spot in a fairly large assembly of Twin Cities liberal sillies. I introduced myself after the meeting and he actually pulled himself up out of the wheelchair and propped himself on the table with one hand and grabbed mine with the other. "You're Tom Laney? Boy, have I heard alot about you - all bad!" Not sure what was coming next because Carl was pretty close to some uaw porkers who hated my guts, I asked if we could get together and talk Union? And that began one of the terrific friendships of my life with this guy I will be telling people about as long as I live.

When the porkchoppers in the uaw forced a big political division in our Local over support for the P-9rs, Carl never wavered. His directness in telling everyone that P-9 support was not optional but a UNION obligation cost him some old friends, which I think is a heavy price to pay for principle in your late days. But he was solid. Just incredible in his integrity and sense of duty which always included loud, animated lectures to ANYONE who saw it otherwise.

Five years ago, when my first granddaughter, Laney Erin Henehan, was born, I took her to meet Carl. He wasn't doing too well that day but it was unbelievable the way his eyes lit up with Laney! He held her and announced, "She's got something!" I think it's probably Union organizing she's got, at least that's where I'm pushing her. I'll tell her all about Carl in a few years. But already, she sits next to a kid on the kindergarten bus who the other kids are shunning for whatever reason and has just told a bully to leave a friend alone. There's a connection between Laney and Carl which is just that connection that Carl always explained as "most guys are pretty good." He meant women too.

Some weeks ago I think a machinist wrote here, or no it was Richard Mellor - that the Union leaders like Lewis and Mortimer and Thomas and Green and Murray and some others from years ago were such "giants" compared to what we have today. And isn't it true that with all their faults that they were giants when compared to the corporate pimps masqued as "labor leaders" today?

But isn't it really true that they were giants because they understood that they worked for the workers and their greatness was only a reflection of the lineworkers and the farmers and steelworkers and fitters and cafeteria workers and miners and drivers and teachers and everyone else who works and is allowed a fair chance to express themselves and thereby define the action?

I think that is absolutely true. It is the most important truth Carl taught me and the most important truth in understanding the need to revolt against this company-union labor movement we've been saddled with and the need for starting up the road to real Unions and a just society RUN BY US!

In 1987, my Local honored Carl with a big plaque and annual Carl Boye Awards to the people in our local who best typify Solidarity principles. I guess the leaders decided that this is too radical an idea and they no longer observe this. In making the award back then, the Local quoted Martin Luther King in saying that the test of courage doesn't come in times of comfort and convenience but in times of turmoil and controversy. We said that Carl never had trouble with the choices or the controversy. He stood up always for equality and solidarity and democracy. It was pretty cool that we recognized his constancy as a worker and his courage as large as King's.

His daughter Mick (Marguerite) told me in a long talk last nite, where we seemed to alternately laugh and cry, amongst all the stories from Carl an to Carl busting some knuckles on the line to Carl hanging out with bigshots but never being affected by them, that Carl will be buried near Lansing, Iowa next Friday. There will be no prayers, no service, no memorial. She says that Carl's religion was the Union and this is the way he wanted it.

I said Carl had a life-long love affair with his family and Ford workers. "Mick" said I had it backwards.

Whatever, I am sure that God will bless this wonderful man.

I did not mean to be so lengthy. I'll be writing something more organized later on but I needed to do this just now.

I do mean to let you all know that this good man's life has made things better for my kids and grandkids and yours too. Carl really did change the world!

I just wanted everyone to know about him.

Merry Christmas to all,


Looking back

Back to the Future

by Tom Laney
July 8, 2005

All this talk about the our supposed labor leaders–Andy Sterns and Joe Hansens, the Gettelfingers and the Sweeneys--is a debate outside what needs to be done. It’s irrelevant. The most constructive thing we can do about all the AFL-CIA types is to ignore them as best we can. We need to jump out of the box they’ve built for us and look to our coworkers for some real answers.

What we need is a conversation about the leaders we have on the jobs.

My first experience with the UAW’s rank & file fighting style came as a line worker at Ford in 1972. I was a temporary QC worker in the pre-delivery department. My first two weeks were spent in one of the highest seniority departments in the plant, writing up interior trim defects. The job was pretty easy because many of the cars had no interior trim. It wasn’t that they were low-price units. It was that the line workers in the trim department didn’t put the trim on.

The chassis workers didn’t put the seats in either. Or the windshields or the cowlboards, mufflers and tail pipes. And the motor line workers didn’t put the engine dress-up parts on. It was quite a sight, all those cars and trucks moving on down the line as parts carriers.

Cars and trucks were pushed into pre-delivery before the company shut the lines down and sent the line departments home early. Usually after about two hours of very intermittent work. Production workers received four hours of call-in pay while the pre-delivery repairmen put the vehicles together. Then they came back the next morning and did it all over again.

This was the way the Ford workers in my local union fought speedup and job eliminations in 1972. They just didn’t do the extra work. And after two weeks, Ford would back off the job cuts, the line workers would settle in to building pretty good cars and trucks for the model year.

After my two weeks in pre-delivery I was sent to the trim department where I was assigned to installing brake housings. The job was to grab a stamped metal brake housing with the pedal swinging within the housing, sit on the driver’s side floor, slip the housing holes over two studs and shoot two nuts on the studs with an air gun.

There was sometimes a problem with the studs being too wide or narrow and the housing could not be placed over the studs. I was a rookie trying to bend the studs to make them fit the housing. The old dudes around me told me that was repair work and that I should just leave the housing for the section repair man to fix when the car came to him about sic units down the line.

The General Foreman Don Gilbert had other ideas. Gilbert was a tough guy, very loud, obnoxious even, who was always throwing his weight around with the new guys. Big Yeller who seemed to have little control of all the spit that would fly out of his fat face when he was screaming at you. You learned to not get too close. He brought a little piece of pipe to me to fit over any bent studs so I could bend them out or in and make the housing fit. So I did that for a few hours until my relief man, a very high seniority guy, Arty Wegman showed up to give me my break.

When I handed my parts apron to Art, he saw the pipe right away.

"What’s this?"

"Gilbert brought it down so I could bend the studs."

"That’s repair work," Arty said as he winged it into the railroad tracks that ran just across the aisle from trimline No. 1.

"When Gilbert asks you what happened to it tell him to see me."

So I came back from my break and "stocked" the brake housings to the unit which means I just threw the part in the car when the studs were bent and left it for the repair man.

It wasn’t long and Gilbert showed up wondering what happened to the tool? I referred him to Arty who was about 20 feet up the line relieving another guy.

Gilbert was yelling at Art as he crossed the line to him.

"What the hell did you do with the tool I gave that rookie?"

"I threw it in the fucking railroad tracks where it belongs. You leave the fricking thing where I put it."

"That kid is going to put those housings in every unit."

"He is."

"I mean he’s going to fit everyone on and install every housing."

"Not if it means he has to repair it."

"I’m running this department."

"You run the department. We’ll take care of the jobs. I’m tired of you frickers fricking with rookies."

Art was in Gilbert’s face, seemingly not minding the spit in his pissed off state. The guys were rooting Arty on and Gilbert was red as a cherry bomb but knowing all his explosions were lost on these guys. He left the area.

The 260-something average Arty went back to talking bowling and laughing his ass off with me.

All this talk today about the bigshot hacks in the AFL-CIA, UAW, UFCW, SEIU etc. and what they want to do at their level about moving the dues around and playing games with organization doesn’t do much for me. It’s irrelevant.

The repair jobs are gone. The relief jobs are handed to low-seniority "upgraders". The UAW committeemen assist the company in deciding which jobs go and who will do the extra work. FordUAW put in a physical re-hab center to help injured workers get back to the overloaded jobs that injured them in the first place. Severely injured workers are thrown onto the street. The UAW washes their hands of them and advises them to find a Workers’ Comp attorney.

Where are the Arty Wegmans today? That’s the question for working people who believe in democracy, solidarity and direct action.

Art didn’t want any part of UAW hackdom or Left elitism and intellectualism. He was in love with his family, his friends on the job and bowling. He was absolutely determined to make his small corner of the world as fair and just and enjoyable as he could possibly make it for himself, his family and his friends. He was a leader for the lineworkers’ solidarity culture that made auto work bearable and occasionally, even fun. Art and a couple of thousand other guys believed in fighting for good jobs and they were very good at it.

Lawrence Goodwyn says that there are people like Art Wegman in every workplace in the world. I know several in my own local. They have never stopped fighting throughout all these years of Left/Right collusion in the bashing of their good nature. They turn deaf ears to the reformists and wait to see who is really interested in their battles. They are the beginning point, not some Jonathan Tasini-approved elitist porkchoppers. They are the real leaders for democracy.

I believe that and believe that these are the guys we should be looking for and when we find them, we should do everything we can to connect them in a very big conversation about how we win at work and how we win on the road.

All the other stuff, the questions of how we talk ourselves out of the fight, who can best manage the retreat, who can lead us to better management of dog eat dog, all the diversity and academic BS, all the Left attacks on our good nature, the gay marriage debate, the constant applications of the racist and sexist labels to good people, the incessant suggestion that white workers are bad people, all these things are not just a colossal waste of time; they are incredibly destructive.

We need to see working people in a new but older light. Most people, of all colors - even white - are fundamentally good and helpful. I don’t care what Elly Leary says about white supremacy. Or, what Roland Sheppard, whoever the hell he is, says about the older generation not being willing to fight. They are wrong. I don’t know too many white workers who think they’re better than anyone else. I know a lot of older workers who will fight their socks off for their coworkers.

What we really need is the truth. We need the Left to stop attacking us and the democracy and solidarity most of us believe in. Who are THOSE people really working for?

The truth is, there are good people everywhere. There are people of all ages and colors who spend their lives helping each other.

We need to work together to work together. How can we do that if we have no work? We need to act to defend our jobs. We need to fight for full employment. We can only act responsibly and ethically by adopting a healthy and true view of ordinary workers like the fighters we should know are all around us.

Political activists who cannot see these good folks are part of the organizational problem we all face. They do us serious damage. They need to take a closer look. They need to change.

Those who are aware of these good folks but consider them incompetent, need to drop dead. Enough of their hate of the common man and woman.

The solidarity movement starts with those who have never stopped moving for each other . The political activist section needs a new and loving view of all working people.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thanks to Pat Quinn!

From: Tom Laney
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2008 9:11 AM
Subject: Thank you

Dear Editor:
Thank you to Patrick Quinn for suggesting in his letter yesterday that if there is going to be an auto bailout, this is the time to bargain with the Big 3 to improve domestic auto production. Thank you also to the PP for printing this important letter. Freeing up auto workers from the scientists to the lineworkers will have us making the world's best cars and trucks and that should be the fundamental bailout order.
The problem has never been a lack of talent and skill in the American auto industry. The problem is the restriction and minimization of this talent by the auto bigshots and their diversion of billions to Madison Avenue rather than honest product innovation and quality. Unfortunately, the auto's demise is constantly blamed on the auto workers.
American autoworkers are among the world's hardest workers and most have the work injuries to prove it. But rather than appreciation for their labor, human spirit and virtue, all they get is disparagement from the elite.
And that is the real basis not only the auto problem but for the American poverty problem as well. The richer-than-sin elites have nearly succeeded in destroying the goodness of most working people. They have attacked workers - from engineers to lineworkers - everywhere; attacked production talent & quality, cheapened production and betrayed our communities.
They have practically obliterated the truth that an economy is not for making a few people filthy rich. They deny the very purpose of an economy, that economies are to put food on everyone's table, to provide happy future's for all our children and to elevate the human condition.
Because of the immense influence and power of these greedy elites - and we can count the anti-worker, modern and thoughtless UAW as no longer part of us but them - we are now in a crisis of epic proportions. The cheerleaders of the elite are going to use this crisis to punish the folks who do the work while protecting and extending the crooks who disabled American quality production and shifted it to slave states for dog-eat-dog profit maximization.
We need to stand up and fight these people.
There is the need for a bailout but the bailout must redress the faulty auto production systems.
As bailout conditions, we should demand the government:
1. Give Equity Shares to the folks who do the work in auto.
2. Return production to the folks who own the tools.
3. Revolutionize the unions to Auto Guilds to free and enhance engineering so that the people who do the work, truly work together in inspirational settings and make the calls in product conception, production design and quality of worklife.
4. Insure that all the workers in the industry are paid comfortable wages and benefits as well as profit sharing.
5. Return to the eight-hour day, 40-hour week with the 4-day, 32-hour week a close objective so as to raise employment.
6. Return to the truth that commerce exists to serve the community.
A look at the production philosophy and operations of Mondragon Corporation proves such a production system is not only successful but far superior to anything the Big 3 has done.
And. Mondragon is true Garage Logic.

Tom Laney
Retired TC Ford Worker
E6305 866th Ave.
Colfax, WI 54730

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Blogging with Daniel Howes

Below are comments to Detroit News Columnist Danny Howes. For Howes, who somehow escapes the massive poverty that is on very corner of Detroit, workers should always be cheaper and poorer, and; the power elites are just fine:

Tue. 11/11/08 08:38 AM
hourly pay (GM)

See related article

Yes, Sean is right. American autoworkers are among the world's hardest workers and most have the work injuries to prove it. But rather than appreciation for their labor, human spirit and virtue, all they get is disparagement from the rich.

And that is the real basis of the American poverty problem, the elite have nearly succeeded in destroying the goodness of most working people. They have attacked production talent & quality, cheapened production and betrayed our communities.

They have practically obliterated the truth that an economy is not for making a few people filthy rich. They deny the very purpose of an economy, that economies are to put food on everyone's table, to provide happy future's for all our children and to elevate the human condtion.

Because of the immense influence and power of these greedy elites - and we can count the anti-worker, modern and thoughtless UAW as no longer part of us but them - we are now in a crisis of epic proportions. Obviously, as we can see right here in this blog, the cheerleaders of the elite are going to use this crisis to punish the folks who do the work while protecting and extending the crooks who disabled American quality production for dog-eat-dog profit maximization.

We need to stand up and fight these people.

There is the need for a bailout but the bailout must redress the faulty auto production systems.

As bailout conditions, we should demand the government:

1. Give Equity Shares to the folks who do the work in auto.

2. Return production to the folks who own the tools.

3. Revolutionize the unions to Auto Guilds to free and enhance engineering so that the people who do the work, truly work together in inspirational settings and make the calls in product conception, production design and quality of worklife.

4. Insure that all the workers in the industry are paid comfortable wages and benefits as well as profit sharing.

5. Return to the eight-hour day, 40-hour week with the 4-day, 32-hour week a close objective so as to raise employment.

6. Return to the truth that commerce exists to serve the community.

Gravedigger (Tom Laney)

Colfax, WI
Reply to this comment | Read this thread | Read posts by Gravedigger | Report abuse

Tue. 11/11/08 06:59 AM
hourly pay (GM)

See related article

I just wanted to comment on this subject..It makes me upset to read about this subject, I come from a GM family. My father, husband, brother and uncles have worked for the automaker. I just wanted you people to understand one thing..they deserve every bit of pay they receive. My husband did not always work for GM, he has 10 years and let me tell you something, they work there butts off..I have seen everything, my husband would come home with bruises on his shoulder from putting footrails on trucks, seen my brother with bruuses from putting motors in vehicles(across his stomach from trying to reach in) so dont you dare, to know or tell me that they are not worthy of their pay. All you people do is complain when all your job entails either pushing pencils or pushing buttons on a computer. Heres an idea..why don't YOU go and TRY to do their job and lets see how far you get. TRUST me its not easy, I would like each and every one of you to go to a GM assembly plant and watch these men and women come out of these plants after work, the first time I did I cried, these men and women work soo hard and they age at an unbeleivable rate. Theres nothing more demeaning than to work on a assembly line, and my husband does this day after day just to provide for his family. SO the next tome you feel the urge to complain, do me a favor and stop and take a look first, then walk a mile in those men and women shoes then come and lets hear what you have to say then!!

shawn1234, rochester hills, mi

Monday, November 10, 2008

How's Howes?

The link above should take you to Daniel Howe's latest column on the Big 3 bailout. From there you can connect to his anti-auto worker blog.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Back In the UAW's Day

How much does Baracka resemble MLK Jr. ?

Quite a bit:

"The UAW and Martin Luther King Jr.: Shared Beliefs, Shared History"

Starting in the late 1950’s, UAW members joined Dr. King and many others in campaigns to end segregation and to expand civil rights throughout the country.
In 1961, then UAW President Walter Reuther invited Dr. King to speak at the UAW’s 25th Anniversary Dinner in Detroit. (You can listen to part of that speech here, but please note the audio file is copyrighted).
In 1963, King and other leaders of the civil rights movement, with backing from the UAW and other labor unions, were mobilizing to pass landmark civil rights legislation.
On June 23rd, 1963, as part of that fight, Dr. King delivered the Speech at the Great March on Detroit. King worked out of an office in Solidarity House, the UAW’s headquarters, while organizing the Detroit march; the speech he gave there is considered the first version of his now famous I Have a Dream Speech delivered to over 200,000 people attending the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963.

The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Speech to the UAW 25th Anniversary Dinner April 27, 1961

Mr. Chairman, President Reuther, distinguished Secretary of Labor, Mr. Goldberg, Senator Hart, all of the distinguished guests assembled here on the platform, delegates and friends of UAW, Ladies and Gentlemen, I need not pause to say how very delighted I am to be here this evening and to be a part of his auspicious occasion, and
I cannot stand here without giving just a word of thanks to this great union for all that you have done across these 25 years. You have made life more meaningful for millions of people, and I'm sure that America is a better place in which to live as a result of the great work that has been done by UAW. You have given to this nation a magnificent example of honest, democratic trade unionism. And your great president, Walter Reuther, will certainly go down in history as one of the truly great persons of this generation. (APPLAUSE)
I bring greetings to you this evening from the hundreds and thousands - yea, millions of people in the Southland who are struggling for freedom and human dignity. I bring greetings to you from the thousands of Negro students who have stood up courageously against the principalities of segregation for all of the all of these months they have moved in a uniquely meaningful orbit, imparting light and heat to distant satellites. And, as a result of their non-violent and yet courageous struggle, they have been able to bring about integration in more than 139 cities at the lunch counters. (APPLAUSE)
I am sure that when historians look back over this particular era of our history, they will have to record this movement as one of the most significant epics of our heritage.
Now, as I think with you tonight and think about this significant occasion, I would like to open by saying that organized labor has come a long, long way from the days of the strike-breaking injunctions of federal courts, from the days of intimidation and firings in the plants, from the days that your union leaders could be physically beaten with impunity. The clubs and claws of the heartless anti-labor forces have been clipped and you now have organizations of strength and intelligence to keep your interest from being submerged and ignored. This is certainly the glorious meaning of your 25th Anniversary.
Negroes who are now but beginning their march from the dark and desolate Egypt of segregation and discrimination can gain from you real inspiration and encouragement for the hard road still ahead. But though we have a multitude of problems almost absorbing every moment of our time and consuming almost every ounce of our energies, we cannot be unmindful of new problems confronting labor. And toward these problems we are not neutral because they are our problems as well.
The auto workers are facing hard core unemployment. New economic patterning through automation and relocation of plants is dissolving the nation's basic industries. This is to me a catastrophe. We are neither technologically advanced nor socially enlightened as a nation if we witness this disaster for tens of thousands with finding a solution. And by a solution I mean a real and genuine alternative providing the same living standards and opportunities which were swept away by a force called progress, but which for many is destruction.
A Society that performs miracles with machinery has the capacity to make some miracles for men if it values men as highly as it values machines.
This is really the crux of the problem. Are we as concerned for human values and human resources as we are for material and mechanical values? The automobile industry is not alone a production complex of assembly lines and steel-forming equipment. It is an industry of people who must live in decency with the security for children, for old age, for health and cultural life. Automation cannot be permitted to become a blind monster which grinds out more cars and simultaneously snuffs out the hopes and lives of the people by whom the industry was built.
Perhaps few people can so well understand the problems of auto workers and others in labor as Negroes themselves, because we built a cotton economy for 300 years as slaves on which the nation grew powerful, and we still lack the most elementary rights of citizens or workers. We too realize that when human values are subordinated to blind economic forces, human beings can become human scrap.
Our kinship was not born, however, with the rise of automation. In the birth of your organization as you confronted recalcitrant antagonists, you forged new weapons appropriate to your fight. Thus in the 30s, when industrial unionism sought recognition as a form of industrial democracy, there were powerful forces which said to you the same words we as Negroes hear now: "Never…..You are not ready…..You are really seeking to change our form of society….You are Reds….You are troublemakers…..You are stirring up discontent and discord where none exists….You are interfering with our propertyrights…. You are captives of sinister elements who would exploit you."
Both of us have heard these reckless charges. Both of us know that what we have sought were simple basic needs without which no man is a whole person.
In your pursuit of these goals during the middle 30s, in part of your industry you creatively stood up for your rights by sitting down at your machines, just as our courageous students are sitting down at lunch counters across the South. They screamed at you and said that you were destroying property rights-but nearly 30 years later the ownership of the automobile industry is still in the hands of its stockholders and the value of its shares has multiplied manyfold, producing profits of awesome size, and we are proudly borrowing your techniques, and though the same old and tired threats and charges have been dusted off for us, we doubt that we shall collectivize a single lunch counter or nationalize the consumption of sandwiches and coffee. (APPLAUSE)
Because you persisted in your quest for a better life, you brought new horizons to the whole nation. Industry after industry was compelled to civilize its practices and in so doing benefited themselves along with you. The new unions became social institutions, which stabilized the nation, fortified it and thrust it up to undreamed of levels of production.
There are more ties of kinship between labor and the Negro people than tradition. For example, labor needs a wage-hour bill which puts a firm floor under wage scales. Negroes need the same measures, even more desperately, for so many of us earn less than One Dollar and twenty-five cents an hour. Labor needs housing legislation to protect it as a consumer. Negroes need housing legislation also. Labor needs an adequate old-age medical care bill and so do Negroes. The list might be extended ad infinitum for it is axiomatic that what labor needs. Negroes need and simple logic therefore puts us side by side in the struggle for all elements in the decent standard of living.
As we survey the problems of labor from the chilling threat of automation to the needs in housing and social welfare generally, we confront the necessity to have a Congress responsive to liberal legislation. Here again the kinship of interests of labor and the Negro people expresses itself. Negroes need liberal Congressmen if they are to realize equality and opportunity. The campaign to grant the ballot to Negroes in the South has profound implications From all I have outlines, it is clear that the Negro vote would not be utilized in a vacuum. Negroes exercising a free suffrage would march to the polls to support those candidates who would be partial to social legislation. Negroes in the South, whether they elected white or Negro Congressmen, would be placing in office a liberal candidate, if you will-a-labor candidate. (APPLAUSE) No other political leader could have a program possessing appeal to Negroes.
In these circumstances, the campaign for Negro suffrage is both a fulfillment of constitutional rights and a fulfillment of labor's needs in a fast changing economy. Therefore, I feel justified in asking you for your continued support in the struggle to achieve the ballot all over the nation and in the South in particular. We, the Negro people and labor, by extending the frontiers of democracy to the South, inevitably will sow the seed of liberalism, where reaction has flourished unchallenged for decades. A new day will dawn which will see militant, steadfast and reliable Congressmen from the South joining those from the Northern industrial states to design and enact legislation for the people rather than for the privileged.
Now I need not say to you that this problem and all of the problems which we face in the nation and in the world, for that matter, will not work itself out. We know that if the problem is to be solved, we must work to solve it. Evolution may be true in the biological realm, but when we week to apply it to the whole of society, there is very little evidence for it.
Social progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals. Without this hard work, time itself becomes the ally of the insurgent and primitive forces of social stagnation. So in order to realize the American dream of economic justice and of the brotherhood of man, men and women all over the nation must continue to work for it.
They have certain words that are used in every academic discipline and pretty soon they become a part of the technical nomenclature of that discipline . Modern psychology has a word that is probably used more than any word in modern psychology-it is a word maladjusted, this is the ringing cry of a new child of psychology-maladjusted.
Now certainly all of us are desirous of living the well-adjusted life in order to avoid the neurotic and schizophrenic personalities, but if you will allow the preacher in me to come out now, let me say to you that there are some things in our social order in which I'm proud to be maladjusted and to which I call upon you to continue to be maladjusted. (APPLAUSE)
I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination . I never intend to adjust myself to religious bigotry. I never intend to become adjusted to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never intend to become adjusted to the madness of militarism of the self-depleting effect of physical violence. In a day when Sputniks and Explorers are dashing through outer space and guided ballistic missiles are carving highways of death through the stratosphere, no nation can win a war. It is no longer a choice between violence and no-violence, it is either non-violence or non-existence. And so I'm proud to be maladjusted. (APPLAUSE)
It may well be that the salvation of our world lies in the hands of the maladjusted and so let us be maladjusted if maladjusted as Prophet Amos, who in the midst of the injustices of his day could cry out in words that echo across the centuries. "Let judgment run down like waters and righteous like a mighty stream. "as maladjusted as Abraham Lincoln who had the vision to see that this nation could not exist "half slave and half free," as maladjusted as Thomas Jefferson, who, in the midst of an age amazingly adjusted to slavery, would cry out in words lifted to cosmic proportions, "We hold these truth's to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights…..(APPLAUSE)
And I believe that through such maladjustment we will be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man's inhumanity to man into the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom, justice and human dignity for all men.
We will continue to work, and work with the faith that this dream can be realized. I believe it will be realized. For although the arc of the moral universe is long, it bends towards justice. Before this dream is realized, maybe some will have to get scarred up; before the dream is realized, maybe some will have to go to jail; before the dream is realized, maybe some will have to face physical death; but if physical death is the price that some must pay to free their children from a permanent life of psychological death, then nothing could be more honorable. (APPLAUSE)
There is something in this universe. So we must continue to struggle for economic justice-the brotherhood of man with the conviction that there is something in this universe which justifies Carlyle in saying, "No lie can live forever." There is something in this universe which justifies William Cullen Bryant in saying, "Truth crushed to earth shall rise again." There is something in this universe which justifies James Russell Lowell in saying, "Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne. " Yet that scaffold sways the future.
This is our hope. This is the faith that will carry us on the and if we will stand by this and continue to work for the ideal, we will be able to bring into being that new day. This will be the day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing anew with the Negro slaves of old, "Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" (APPLAUSE)

Art Credit: MLK Stencil By Bonard, Some rights reserved

Monday, October 27, 2008

Wrong In Iraq

It's too bad the politicians have so thoroughly ignored their responsibilities to thought and reasoning when sending our troops off to war. It makes ordinary citizens feel like we have a right to kill anyone we don't like as we please. How did we ever get to this place?

I just sent this to a Catholic Paratrooper who believes in rah-rahing the Iraq War. He's forgotten the obligation to be morally right about going to war.

We have to be right when going to war.

It doesn''t make any difference if you're Catholic or atheist, going to war requires responsibility FIRST IN THE DECISION. Going to war is the most serious undertaking of all, and requires Justice, first to Christian Justice and then to the U.S. Constitution. The government was wrong on both counts about going to war in Iraq. The politicians, except for a handful, traitored on their duty to God, Country and our Troops.

The reasoning below of Just War Theory applied to Iraq is sound but few in the Congress heeded it, and no one in the White House. (Which is run by dessreters and daft dodgers by the way.)

The comments below, also morally rule out Pacifism and Nonviolence and even require, as a duty, in every possible way, the defense of our families and countriy:

Cardinal Ratzinger [Pope Benedict XVI]
Relevant Citations:
Cardinal Ratzinger, After the 9/11 Attacks Interview with Vatican Radio. November 2001:
Q: Is there any such thing as a "just war"?
Cardinal Ratzinger: This is a major issue of concern. In the preparation of the Catechism, there were two problems: the death penalty and just war theory were the most debated. The debate has taken on new urgency given the response of the Americans. Or, another example: Poland, which defended itself against Hitler.
I'd say that we cannot ignore, in the great Christian tradition and in a world marked by sin, any evil aggression that threatens to destroy not only many values, many people, but the image of humanity itself.
In this case, defending oneself and others is a duty. Let's say for example that a father who sees his family attacked is duty-bound to defend them in every way possible -- even if that means using proportional violence.
Thus, the just war problem is defined according to these parameters:
1) Everything must be conscientiously considered, and every alternative explored if there is even just one possibility to save human life and values;
2) Only the most necessary means of defense should be used and human rights must always be respected; in such a war the enemy must be respected as a human being and all fundamental rights must be respected.
I think that the Christian tradition on this point has provided answers that must be updated on the basis of new methods of destruction and of new dangers. For example, there may be no way for a population to defend itself from an atomic bomb. So, these must be updated.
But I'd say that we cannot totally exclude the need, the moral need, to suitably defend people and values against unjust aggressors. …
Cardinal Ratzinger Says Unilateral Attack on Iraq Not Justified - Gives Personal Opinion; Favors Decision from U.N. Zenit News Service. Sept. 22, 2002.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger does not believe that a unilateral military attack by the United States against Iraq would be morally justifiable, under the current circumstances.
According to the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith -- who acknowledged that political questions are not within his competence -- "the United Nations is the [institution] that should make the final decision."
"It is necessary that the community of nations makes the decision, not a particular power," the cardinal said, after receiving the 2002 Trieste Liberal Award. His statements were published Saturday in the Italian newspaper Avvenire.
"The fact that the United Nations is seeking the way to avoid war, seems to me to demonstrate with enough evidence that the damage would be greater than the values one hopes to save," the cardinal said.
He said that "the U.N. can be criticized" from several points of view, but "it is the instrument created after the war for the coordination -- including moral -- of politics."
The "concept of a 'preventive war' does not appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church," Cardinal Ratzinger noted.
"One cannot simply say that the catechism does not legitimize the war," he continued. "But it is true that the catechism has developed a doctrine that, on one hand, does not exclude the fact that there are values and peoples that must be defended in some circumstances; on the other hand, it offers a very precise doctrine on the limits of these possibilities."
Interview with May 2, 2003:
Q: Eminence, a topical question that in a certain sense is inherent to the Catechism: Does the Anglo-American war against Iraq fit the canons of a "just war"?
Cardinal Ratzinger: The Pope expressed his thought with great clarity, not only as his individual thought but as the thought of a man who is knowledgeable in the highest functions of the Catholic Church. Of course, he did not impose this position as doctrine of the Church but as the appeal of a conscience enlightened by faith.
The Holy Father's judgment is also convincing from the rational point of view: There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. To say nothing of the fact that, given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a "just war."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Buying Chrysler

So now Chrysler may be sold off in pieces to various car companies.

Not in the buy line are the most logical buyers, the Chrysler workers: the managers, engineers, designers, skilled trades and production workers are left out of any purchase plan.

The Chrysler sale is yet another opportunity for the UAW to put their cash where their big mouths are. If the UAW is truly committed to the production of sane cars and trucks, they could easily purchase Chrysler and establish Guild Production along the lines of Mondragon.

What American auto production really needs is a production system revolution. Cuurently American auto production is controlled by marketers. We need production to be controlled by the most knowledgeable - the people who own the tools and do the work.

Long background story made short: The UAW long ago took the wrong turn in its own development. Internal wars into the late 1940's, between Marxists-Leninists-Trotkyists-Stalinists-Socialists and Trade Unionists led to the consolidation of UAW power by Capitalists. It's been all downhill for autoworkers since the UAW adopted the competitive values of the corporation in the place of Solidarity. The UAW led all the big unions down the path of corporatism leaving American workers without a Trade Union Movement.

What if the UAW once it had developed the power of Solidarity had used it to take over production to run it in a common sense way to benefit American Society by winning good josb for all? Certainly our country - and world - would be much healthier today.

The UAW, with its $billions, IF it is not quite as dead yet as I think it is, could still recover its principles. The late great union has another opportunity to not only act like a union but to revolutionize auto production by purchasing Chrysler and turning it over to the true auto production experts - the Chrysler workers.

The Chrysler Local Unions then would be expanded to include all the workers from design to engineering to trades and production in a production sytem that would be so inspirational and quality-oriented it would crank out the world's best autos.

They're already doing this at Mondragon.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Need a Program? How about this one:

From John Medaille:

Monday, September 08, 2008

"Pro-Life" or Just "Anti-Abortion"?

Political debate is often a matter of controlling the terms, since the names we call things often dictate the way we feel about them. For example, those who support abortion want to be known as “pro-choice” rather than “pro-abortion.” The preference is interesting in that it reveals that, even among its supporters, abortion is not really something worthy of support. “Choice,” however, sounds a lot like “freedom,” and hence is worthy of our highest support. Of course, since the “choice” is the choice for abortion, there is not really a functional difference between the terms; it is merely a matter of marketing.
By the same token, the anti-abortion movement would prefer to be known as “pro-life.” Here the situation is completely different, because while being pro-life means being anti-abortion, being anti-abortion doesn't necessarily mean being pro-life; the different names really do designate different things. One can be anti-abortion on narrow moral grounds, on political grounds, or just out of a certain fastidiousness. But families do a lot more than just give birth, and life is more than just its beginning. A true pro-life movement could be—and should have been—the foundation of a new Catholic politics. This is crucial because after Vatican II, Catholic politics in America severely deteriorated. What had been a strong presence dwindled so that there was very little difference between the Catholic voter and the rest of the population. The strong pro-worker bias of Catholic politics became bifurcated into radical divergent wings and highly partisan. But a pro-life party could have found areas of agreement between the factions and become a true “centrist” movement.
What would a “pro-life” agenda look like? Mostly, it would be pro-family:
Pro-Family Wage. Wages have stagnated for 30 years; in fact, the median wage has declined in the face of vastly increased productivity. This has put pressure on women to enter the work force, limiting their freedom to be full time mothers and home-makers. The Just Wage is intrinsic to Catholic social teaching and a pro-family policy. Without it, you cannot be a pro-life party, and certainly not pro-family.
Pro-natalist. The bias of both law and policy should support families and particularly large families. American politics has been caught in the grip of a false Malthusian doctrine, one that is disproved in generation after generation, yet still holds sway in the culture. Further, the accepted neoclassical economic doctrines privilege capital over labor. This is a direct result of a Malthusian outlook which makes people problematic and wealth an end in itself. Capital is thought to be the true source of wealth, while labor is just a drag on profits. What the economy needs first of all is a supply of workers and consumers, and if we don't “produce” these ourselves, people will come across the border—legally and otherwise—to fill the spaces we have left vacant.
Pro (Marian-)Feminist. Secular feminism doesn't seem to differ much from anti-feminism, and leaves women in an ambiguous place in the society. But in such a masculinity culture such as ours, a real feminism would be a real gift; we affirm not merely the dignity of women, but even more we affirm that women do tend to have a different spiritual and psychological outlook. Thus women make a unique contribution, not only in birth but in every aspect of life, but they need freedom to make this contribution. And the first freedom that women need is the freedom to be mothers. Currently society makes this very difficult. Usually, they must be mothers in addition to all the burdens of wage-earners. Sarah Palin seems to be the modern model, where the needs of the family are subordinated to the needs of the career. This is not real feminism; women in this model must be like pit bulls (that is, like their male counterparts) with lipstick. Some women, I'm sure, will find that appealing. But others will not, and the current culture of death favors the pit-bull view.
Pro-education. The education system has failed in this country, and even the college-educated are often functional illiterates. A pro-education policy would include both public and private schools, and even (or especially) home schooling, since the primary authority and responsibility for education remains with the parents. But for this to be the case, the first three points in this list must also be true.
Pro Just War Doctrine. A Catholic party would not be pacifist, at least not when home and hearth were truly threatened. But it would be opposed to most of the wars we have actually fought. Nothing this side of divorce quite disrupts a family like sons and fathers (and increasingly today, mothers) marching off to war. This should only happen when the war can be unambiguously squared with the just war doctrine.
Pro-employment. A pro-family policy would not subordinate the needs of the economy to globalist doctrines. Families need work, and providing that work is the first duty of the economy and economic policy. We would make intelligent trade decisions that truly benefited both sides (the only kind of just agreement) and not merely imported poverty.
Other issues would be seen in a new light by a Catholic pro-family movement. For example, health care. Now, one may be for it or not, but surely a pro-natalist policy would ensure that every mother had access to pre-natal care and basic health care for her children, regardless of her economic status. A pro-family politics even sheds light on city planning. Is the vast separation of working, shopping, and living quarters really conducive to family life? Should the subsidies to such centripetal forces that spread cities out (subsidies such as the “freeways”) really just a hindrance to family life, a hindrance supported with public money?
A pro-life polity is not so much a group of programs as it is a new (and counter-cultural) was of looking at things. It allows us to work with a variety of people at different levels, and so bridge merely partisan differences in American politics. For example, we can work with Fundamentalists who may merely be anti-abortion, and with Evangelicals who are pro-family, and with Democrats who want to improve the worker's situation, and with Republicans who want to restore virtue in public life, etc. More importantly, it allows us to showcase the richness of Catholic Social Teaching, and is therefore a tool of evangelization. It allows us to display the love of Christ and say with St. Paul, “Look at these Christians, how they love one another.”
With all that in mind, we can ask, “Is the current pro-life movement really pro-life or just anti-abortion?” Before I answer that, let me relate the phone call which prompted these ruminations. A reader of this review called to say that his parish priest had told him that a vote for Obama was a mortal sin and put his soul at risk. Now, as a mere matter of canon law, the priest exceeded his authority; such pronouncements can only be made by competent authority, and that authority is not the parish priest. If the priest's bishop has made such a pronouncement, the priest may repeat. But he has no authority to make this ruling on his own. However, if the priest is right, if voting for a candidate who supports abortion is a mortal sin, then neither can one vote for John McCain, who supports abortion in cases of rape, incest, and when the mother's life is in danger. We know from past experience that these exceptions turn out to be nearly identical to abortion-on-demand. Further, McCain supports federal money being used for new lines of embryonic stem cell research, which not only requires abortions, but actually creates a market for aborted children. Perhaps the priest in question supports this because it will be a free market. Now, one may argue that McCain is slightly better on abortion and therefore deserves our vote, and that's fine. But surely the difference is not enough to compel our vote.
The priest in question is subverting the power of the confessional for purely partisan political purposes. This damages Church authority and violates canon law; Christians should be able to go to confession without receiving a political diatribe. At all times, the Church must speak out on particular issues and at some times must prohibit a vote for particular candidates. But this is function of competent authority, and not a priest subverting the confessional for partisan political purposes on hypocritical grounds.
But the incident does serve as a metaphor for the political wing of the anti-abortion movement. It has never been a pro-life movement, and has always subordinated the totality of Catholic Social Teaching to the needs of the Republican Party. This might even be justified on the grounds of pragmattic politics. But in fact, 35 years of slavish devotion to the Republican Party has produced very little in the way of results. They make a few statements, toss of few crumbs our way, but mostly treat us with contempt, the same kind of contempt that useful idiots and fellow-travelers deserve from their ideological masters. The truth is that the Republicans have appointed 70% or more of all the judges in this country, and if they had wanted to shut down Roe v. Wade, they could have done so a long time ago. But they do not and will not. I doubt if a single life has been saved by our political action, and many other parts of Catholic Social Teaching have been severely compromised on the political level. I do not know how the National Right to Life Committee is funded, and they do not publish a list of donors. But they certainly act as if they were a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fox News and Entertainment, with Rupert Murdoch as the sole proprietor.
This is not to say that people who actually work the issue have not been effective. Those who walk the picket, who pray for the mothers and babies, who counsel mothers facing difficulties, who adopt babies, who establish orphanages, and who show the love of Christ in a hundred over ways, have actually saved lives and won souls for Christ. But they are being betrayed by the NRLC.
The Republicans have not paid very much for the devotion given them by the pro-life voters, voters who usually provide their margin of victory in election after election. They are not even an anti-abortion party, much less a pro-life party. Rather, they are a “Big Tent” party, content to accept our support, especially when it is offered so cheaply and with so few conditions. Lip service is enough. Indeed, abortion was originally supported by the Republican Party under the Libertarian rhetoric of “get the government off my back and out of the bedroom!” Conservatives forget that before Roe v. Wade compelled the states to allow abortion, California did so voluntarily, and did so with the support and the signature of Governor Ronald Reagan. His conversion to the cause only came after he saw its political power to seduce a lot of Catholic voters. The result of giving our votes so cheaply is that we now have one-and-a-half pro-abortion parties and one-half an anti-abortion party.
And no pro-life parties.
Posted by John Médaille at 9/08/2008 10:10:00 AM 11 comments Links to this post
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Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Baracka Wake Up

I don't put much stock in most politicians but put much more in Baracka than McCain.

I wouldn’t worry too much about what Baracka didn’t get done. He’s part of a Senate and government that doesn’t do much but screw us and send our troops off to yet another Unjust war.

I believe in good jobs for everyone because there is no way to resolve the massive social problems we have without jobs. I spent a lot of years arguing with Left and Right wingers about everything from phony diversity programs to the permanent underclass.

I finally reduced the big question for organizing to what will it take to have full employment at good work?

Lots of people get in the way of answering this basic qustion about good jobs for all. But the most damaging people to winning back our work, good neighbiorhoods & towns, our country and world are the new liberals who say we are all lost without Capitalism, the free market and the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex. They all, as Chesterton pointed out, seem to disdain every honest worker & love every country in the world but their own.

The truth is, without a return to the American values for decent work and virtuous community business men like Mike Ptacek (my favorite friendly, small town Patriot & grocer) we're going nowhere good. The insanity of the big business elite’s profiteering criminal trade agreements is destroying our country. They are making it impossible for millions of us to make a good living for our families.

It's all getting much worse but McCain says we need more of the same free market, free trade and massive banks and corporations. Bull Shit! It amazes me that any working stiff can be so out of touch as to support him! I really wonder what some people think about?

No politician is going to change anything for the betterment of most of us. For one thing, it’s still impossible to win an election while telling the truth about Big Business. But there is a huge difference between McCain and Baracka and that is, Baracka admits it. And McCain puts himself up as the saviour. Baracka is, hopefully, about organizing a Populist Movement. If he wins, we’ll find out if he’s really serious about maintaining this movement he’s organized. If he sells out, perhaps other leadership will emerge and continue the organizing towards a more family-friendly society.

McCain is all about "Elect me and I will save you all." Which appeals to those Americans who never seem to get it: that we are part of the equation. Unless we organize around principles of justice and become powerful enough to act and win, nothing will change for the better. And everything will get much, much worse.

I had lunch yesterday with Bill Hannigan who fought all the way through WWII with the 82nd Airborne. He is alive because of many miracles. Bill says this mess we have today is not the America they fought WWII for. He laughed when I said his generation would have seized the docks, sunk every slave-product container ship and blown up the rail tracks before they'd watch our country being sold to China and our troops sent off to an unconstitutional war.

Bill laughed because he knows his generation would never have put up with anyone destroying their livelihoods. And he knows that they wouldn’t have begged some hack to save them. They were a generation that fought for each other and saved themselves. And saved us too. Bill is 87 now. He tells me it’s our turn to fight. He’s right.

We should feel embarassed to leave our children and grandchildren so badly off. We would be the first American generation to do that. It pisses me off that the good, old dudes in my Union turn in their graves now because we have refused to defend what they won for us. They were the guys who organized the greatest strike wave in American history in 1946. They were the guys who gave us all the great things that are being stolen from American workers today like the Union wage, work systems, the 8-hour day, vacations, health care and pensions....without a fight. It is all disappearing without a fight! (At least beyond those few valiant battles by overmatched and stabbed in the back, honest Local Unions.)

There have been a number of wake-up calls to American Labor that have pretty much fallen on deaf ears. People are busy sending jokes and prayers around the internet while whining about everything else. They say they care about our troops. But where were they when the troops, before they were soldiers, went on strike to defend their jobs? Where are they now when the troops come home and their jobs are in China? The same people who hated us as workers say they love us as troops. BS.

So Baracka is giving us another wake-up call.

Let's hope it is not the last wake-up call before everything is shot to shit. We either get ourselves together around Solidarity and get ourselves into position to win a fight or everything's going to be gone.

I think it is clear that Obama would help do that while McCain will have the cops at our doors and picketlines.
The country's crumbling. I think you can see the evidence for this everywhere, everyday. It's time to get focused on what can be done about it and the answer can't be the guy who tells us everything's cool.

It's all about good jobs and whether us working stiffs can get back to basics.

Coming 'Round the Mountain


I didn't know you liked Eddie Cochran?! Great, isn't he? I wrote the first verses to a new Ford song:

Written by A. P. Worker

You call yourself an industrial engineer
But you probably couldn't draw a glass of beer
Oh you say you have a TASK, well you can kiss my frickin' ass
You dirty-ass, job-cutting motherfricker.
Oh, you're roaming through the racks and down the aisles
We can smell you from a quarter of a mile,
There's gonna be a bloody fight, gonna hit that bright red light,
You dirty-ass, job-cutting motherfricker.

(Sung to the tune "She's Comin' Round The Mountain.")

See you pal.

Card Check vs Trade Union Check

Back in the good old days when unions were like families and were bent on winning strikes to better our society, working men and women called them up and asked to join.

My favorite organizing story is about a soda-jerk kid calling up the UAW-CIO and saying, "OK, we're all sitting down. What do we do next?" There was that sort of excitement about the CIO and its ability to make the boss say "yes" when he wanted to say "no".

That was before the day the CIO turned away from Solidarity, to power consolidation, merged with the AFL and ending what should have been an everlasting drive for the betterment of everyone who works for an honest living.

Now the Big Labor Porkchoppers can't organize anyone. Why? No one wants to join a union that's in bed with the boss. No one gets excited about a union that identifies the enemy as the guy on the other shift or the other Local or state. No one is interested in trading in Friendship and Solidarity for dog-eat-dog "competiveness".

Most of us working stiffs want unions that can win a fight to lift up working folks, to better our families, neighborhoods and country. But these phony unions today are not about that at all. The modern unions should not even be called unions because they don't unite anyone in The Good Fight. Modern corporate unionism is not about community at all. It is all about individualism, selfishness, corporatism and the acceptance of a permanent underclass.

And now, since they can't organize through good work anymore, the corporate unions want "Card Check".

How about we first get "Union Check"? If we want to join a union, how would we know if a particular union is a True Trade Union? For instance, all modern unions claim a Solidarity philosophy and promise to fight for their members. How would we know if the union sales people are telling us the truth about this? In the old days, the family focus in the Solidarity philosophy and the union's ability to win The Good fight was self-evident. But today, it is just the opposite. Today, it is evident to any conscious person that unions accept - even promote - speedup, quality-cutting, skill-cutting, downsizing, outsourcing, wage-cutting and plant closings. It is also apparent that they have accepted metric tons of Global Baloney and attacked, and defeated, the strikes of their own members all across our country.

These are not True Trade Unions folks!

So before the Democrats hand out the Card Check to these bozos, how about laws regulating unions by Solidarity qualifications?

Of course, when we get True Trade Unions - and they WILL rise again - they won't need "Card Check". Solidarity will again attract good working people everywhere.

And this time, let us continue towards high-quality, democatic, Guild-like, big production systems like Mondragon; and family-owned, small businesses devoted to the community.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Earl DeLong

Common Sense
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Farewell Earl!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Farewell Earl!
Earl Delong was buried in Birchwood, Wisconsin yesterday, his favorite place in the world. His wife of 61 years, Dorothy, was surrounded by family and friends, the cemetery ringed with burning maples, oaks and yellow birch. The American Legion gun squad had a couple of misfires but thye were backed up by a duck hunter a mile away who helped out with the salute to the old hunter and Marine. The USMC sent three flag-folders to honor this good man. We all sang the Marine Corps Hymm at his gravesite. Being a Marine was a big deal to Earl.So was being a Catholic. Earl lived a full life on miracle time. He won the Silver Star on Tarawa surviving for the invasion of Iwo Jima. He was terribly wounded there but saved by a friend who moved him to the wounded group prioritized for evacuation to a hospital ship. Earl talked about how he seemed to leave his body then to experience the most beautiful place he had ever seen. He wondered from above, why they were working so frantically to save him?His son Dan told this soul story at St. John's Catholic Church in a nice eulogy to a wonderful, small town man.We lunched at The Blue Gill Bar, Earl and Dorothy's favorite place to watch the Packers. People agreed that Earl was now in a position to order the Packers to start playing some defense. Small town businessmen talked about how the economy would be in great shape if the government had defended virtuous business people like Earl instead selling out to the Wall Street Bankers and crooks. There was a slide show of Earl and Dorothy with all their kids and grandkids and friends that sparked all kinds of stories about Earl. And all those stories revolved around one, great man's discipline for honest business practice, small town virtue and love of family and friends.R.I.P. Earl DeLong
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The Deregulation of Labor Circa 1970-Present

When the big unions took Solidarity and direct action in The Good Fight away, they removed the heartbeat and regulation of Trade Unionism.

Some years ago it was clear in my union - the UAW - had turned from attacking rank & filers as "dissidents" & "commies" to leaders of the now broad dissension of Bigshot Labor with Solidarity. "The UAW has become the Dissidents," Dave Yettaw said. Yettaw observed that the UAW was playing checkers while the corporations were playing chess. He also noted all the union bigs had traded in Soidarity for anything-goes-dog-eat-dog competition. They attacked the Golden Rule of Solidarity and thus de-regulated the Priority of Labor.

As the UAW leaders of my plant carry the immorality of the market like it’s supposed to run our lives and lecture us about our stupidity in not electing enough sellout democrats (who put the troops on the P-9rs?) , they have moved from not only not having the right answers to having answers that are destroying our country and world. And they are pushing these anti-answers everywhere in our local unions.

Do WE really have to go so the obscenely rich and powerful pals of the UAW big shots can be more obscenely rich and powerful?

Because the UAW’s and Labor's dictators have trashed our constitution and smashed local, council and convention democracy we have no chance to fix these bastards.

They claim they only bargain for what the members tell them to. Did any member of local ask them to open our contract and attack the retirees? Where are the members who asked them to screw new hires?

"The policy is bankrupt and we’re locked into it," said an old GM Chairman some years ago on his way out of a phony convention.

This dead-ended idiocy is not new. The UAW lobbied against fuel economy in the 70s and lost us 100s of thousands of jobs as the public bought fuel efficient cars made in Japan. And they proved their resistance to truth and reason by doing it again just a few years ago.

The UAW turned it’s back on Japanese democratic trade unionists who were then asking for our help. UAWCapsters, (the nonsense politics UAW arm) instead fostered a hysteria against people who even looked Japanese and raised funds by selling three sledgehammer swings at Toyotas for a buck. That was their answer in the 70s: beat the crap out of Japanese people and sledgehammer the shit out of Toyotas while ignoring the scab parts that filled up the corporations’ stock racks. UAW Buy American never applied to our country’s biggest importers - the Big 3. Local 879 UAW-Capsters Gene Neuman and Bob Killeen Sr. even attacked Congressman Joe Karth when he called for better fuel economy and an Americn Content Amendment to protect our jobs. We paid for this stupidity with our jobs. Some political action program.
In the late 1990s the UAW was still at it, doing he legwork for the auto giants in opposing more fuel economy in CAFÉ standards. Sen. Paul Wellstone told them to get lost.

In the early 1990s the UAW and AFL-CIA were turning its back on Ford workers in Mexico who were being beaten and shot by the company for the terrible crime of demanding their year end bonuses. They asked the UAW for financial help in supporting their strikes. Their offer to us: They would reject any US and Canadian work that Ford was moving there if we would help fund their fights. There were enough American Ford workers at the time to pay the Mexican wages while they struck by simply contributing 10 cents a month to them. The UAW instead lined up with Ford against them.

Those of us who believed that the UAW would eventually wake up and see the need to defend our work and our society against the corporations and the market were wrong. They are dug in on the side of the corporations and they are marching against us and against every principle this union ever stood for. Their empty heads and hearts have been filled with Capitalist liberalism. Where we need Common Sense and battle for what’s right, they have defined rights and justice as corporate freedom to destroy everything other generations fought for and won for us. They are more than willing to fight. But their fight is against us.

If the market needs anything it is regulation. If unions require one thing, it is the regulation of Solidarity.

The rich and powerful and their politicians are out of control, it is they who require a drastic downsizing.

It is the honest small businessman who serves the community who needs defense.

The market is flooded with products made by foreign workers who have practically nothing. And it is American, antipatriotic, transnational corporations who are insuring that these workers will continue to get practically nothing.

The UAW steadfastly defends the wrong people, and their biggest lie - that the market should be allowed to run and ruin our lives - is promoted in all our local unions. All locals are now turned to a concessionary race to the bottom. It is this race that is ruining our work and impoverishng the unemployed. That’s just the way it is according to Ron Gettelfinger and Gerald Bantam. And their lappies in our local lap that one up too. Sales are off. We’re fucked. The only thing we can do according to them, is elect more Democrats.

Sales are off because our products cost more than those built by workers who have no rights. The options are:

1. Sit on our butts until all our production is gone;


2. Help those workers equalize their wages and working conditions with ours. Equality - a real, true, trade union principle - Battle - for what’s Just for everyone by fighting at the docks and winning high quality, Guild Production at home and a Just Wage abroad.

How do we get efficient, highest-quality production?

Is it by allowing greedy owners and marketers to misrepresent quality through advertising?

Or is it by freeing up the talent to design, engineer, manage and craft the finest cars and trucks, steel, aircraft, ships, etc. possible?

Can this quality and craft production work? It works in developing and producing nuclear submarines. It works in the space program and it can work in every big production system. Mondragon Production workers for the workers, consumers and communities. Check it out. We can get it all done democratically with a true eye for quality and efficiency and good jobs for everyone in the world.

We need to continue what the Delphi workers started. Let's get to organizing democratic meetings and talking work to rule, winning strikes and sitdowns.

And we need to stop talking bullshit Porkchop politics and start talking up direct action on the ship and truck docks across our country. That’s where we solve the trade issues.

WE need the Solidarity Movement again