A constructive suggestion 5

DETROIT (AP) – Worried about their jobs and warned that the cost of failure could be a depression, hundreds of leaders of the United Auto Workers voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to make concessions to the struggling Detroit Three, including all but ending a much-derided program that let laid-off workers collect up to 95 percent of their salaries.

"Everybody has to give a little bit," said Rich Bennett, an official for Local 122 in Twinsburg, Ohio, representing Chrysler workers. "We’ve made concessions. We really feel we’re doing our part."

Union leaders also agreed to let the cash-starved automakers delay billions of dollars in payments to a union-administered trust set to take over health care for blue-collar retirees starting in 2010.

In addition, they decided to let the Detroit leadership begin renegotiating elements of landmark contracts signed with the automakers last year, a move that could lead to wage concessions.


Question: Why not let the UAW take over the management of the Detroit Three and struggle to make the sort of profits that can keep them in gravy forever? 


Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Thursday, December 4, 2008

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This post has 5 comments.

  • roger in florida

    Ms Becker; I agree I seem to contradict myself, particularly about health care. The thing is that we do not have an individually managed system now. Frankly I believe the best system would be one where everybody handled their own health care through individual policies, but that does not exist. John McCain talked about individual tax relief to help pay for health care and was trounced. The US govt. already handles a major part of US healthcare through VA, Medicare and Medicaid. Most other individuals have health care through their place of employment. The burden this places on US Cos. is very substantial and tends to make them uncompetitive. It is also a deterrence to capital investment in the US. So, as with many other things in life, we need to find, not the best solution, but the “least worst”. I think the least worst would be a Govt. backed catastrophic health policy everybody has to buy, paid for by fixed deduction from payroll, similar to our social security contribution, but run by and supplemeted by private insurance. This is the system that is developing in Canada and would be more widespread in Britain if British people weren’t such sheep. I know the NHS is a disaster, my brother is suffering in hospital now in the UK. but then everything in Britain seems to be a disaster; education, immigration, energy, transport, taxation, industrial policy, policing; you name it, none of it works . When I lived there I was infuriated by the incompetence, and more by the general indifference of people. One of the most attractive features of the US is that things work here, and speaking of that I must get some done!

  • Jillian Becker

    Your comment on ‘Realistic Pessimism’, roger of florida, tells me that you know as much as I do about the British National Health Service and its failings – except that it got much worse after you’d left Britain. And you know about Canada too.

  • Jillian Becker

    roger in florida – with whom I so often agree – I have this time to disagree with you about one thing you say. A government health care system is far from desirable. It can only be a disaster. That’s what it is everywhere it exists. You cannot imagine how bad it is in Britain. I know how bad it is from bitter first hand experience and long observation. One reads about the long waiting lists for operations in Canada. Nowhere is it a success. The US has the best medical care in the world. How it could be paid for in ways that would not entail a lowering of standards would be an interesting subject for debate.

  • roger in florida

    Caledonian: If you are referring to UAW members as “looters” I don’t think that helps. UAW has negotiated with B3 for many years and have achieved their current working conditions within the rules of our capitalist society. B3 could at any time have rejected UAW demands, as Caterpillar did successfully, facing down an 18 month strike and forcing UAW to negotiate separately for conditions that allowed both Caterpillar and the workforce to prosper. The simple fact is that American Govt. leadership has been appalling for many years. The “golden goose” of American industry has been tapped out, over taxed, over regulated and demonized. Fundamental changes need to be made in US society to encourage business both large and small, believe me as a small business owner in the US I know what I am talking about. B3 have gone through a lot of transitions and can prosper again but need basic change; for instance; two percent of all medical transactions in the US are handled through GM benefits dept. What the hell has that got to do with making cars! The fact is that the US govt. has to step up with a Govt. healthcare system to take a huge burden off all US companies. Similarly we need a new savings/pension structure with defined contributions instead of defined benefits. Right now every man woman and child in the US has a debt obligation of $1/2million for pension and retirement obligations for public employees. This place is a fiscal disaster area (but a great place to live!)

  • Caledonian

    Looters certainly don’t want responsibility for creating things. They want that responsibility passed to someone who will take it seriously, and produce something valuable – which the looters will then steal.