Friday, November 21, 2008

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.

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