Even though I’ve suggested that auto workers should not pay for the mistakes made by the industry’s executives, the drumbeat has been pretty persistent that the workers will take another hit. And it picks up in today’s New York Times:
While the union has not agreed to reopen contracts at General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, industry analysts say it seems inevitable that it will have to do so, and that some of the U.A.W.’s hardest-fought gains may shrink, if not completely disappear.
And in The Wall Street Journal:
The United Auto Workers union is in talks with some of Detroit’s Big Three auto makers to stop a program that pays idled workers, people familiar with the matter said.
The so-called jobs banks, while shrinking, have been viewed by critics as a competitive disadvantage for Detroit auto makers, calling them an overly generous benefit at companies that are posting billions in losses. Union officials and their allies counter that the banks have been an effective way to keep a flexible job pool available and have allowed the companies to implement new technology while reducing overall numbers responsibly.
Here is the irony and the obscenity being played out every day: managers at AIG get cash bonuses even though we, the taxpayers, have to bail them out of the mess they created and Robert Rubin continues to inhabit the circles of power even though, on his watch, Citibank came close to collapse and required a massive government bailout…and, yet, Rubin piled up tens of millions of dollars in compensation and no one is asking him to take concessions or give back his loot.
But, the auto worker–the person who came to work dutifully every day and worked in a factory that none of the AIG managers or Robert Rubin would dare spend a day in–is the person who has to take the personal hit and try to make ends meet because the auto execs screwed up.
This is a fucking crime.