to stop them, pass the bailout, and hold them responsible for how they
spend it. We have to help them but ensure they help themselves right,
not the way that the current bailout idiots have been.
<begin article quote>
The problems aren't just with the US auto companies. The entire
global auto industry is currently a mess because the credit crisis has
caused cars sales to plunge, especially in the US, including imports:
Gleaming new Mercedes cars roll one by one out of a huge container
ship here and onto a pier. Ordinarily the cars would be loaded on
trucks within hours, destined for dealerships around the country. But
these are not ordinary times.
For now, the port itself is the destination. Unwelcome by dealers and
buyers, thousands of cars worth tens of millions of dollars are being
warehoused on increasingly crowded port property.
And for the first time, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, and Nissan have each
asked to lease space from the port for these orphan vehicles. They are
turning dozens of acres of the nation's second-largest container port
into a parking lot, creating a vivid picture of a paralyzed auto
business and an economy in peril.
Kurt Golledge, 48, was one of just two truckers loading his green,
75-foot-long hauler with cars last week. Mr. Golledge said eight of
his colleagues were laid off this month because Toyota dealers did not
want more deliveries.
"I was dropping cars in Henderson, Nev., about a month ago and the
dealer told me: 'Take 'em somewhere else and dump 'em,' " said Mr.
Golledge, who works for a company called Allied Systems. "All the
dealers are telling us the same thing."
"The ships keep coming, but there's nowhere for the cars to go," Mr.
Golledge said. He said he believed the vehicles he was loading would
be his last before he was laid off, and he was already considering
where he might find a new job.
As for Schwarzenegger--who claims the problem is that workers get too
generous a benefits package--he may want to ruminate on this fact:
only cars built in the US have built-in health insurance costs,
because other cars are built in places like Japan or Germany that
provide health insurance to all citizens, or they're built in places
like Mexico or Brazil where the workforces are non-union and don't
receive health care.
Which brings us to Kyl's lie. DKos diarist Inky99 was on this bs the
other day, and discovered this debunking of Kyl's $73 per hour claim:
The average GM assembly-line worker makes about $28 per hour in wages,
and I can assure you that GM is not paying $42 an hour in health
insurance and pension plan contributions. Rather, the $70 per hour
figure (or $73 an hour, or whatever) is a ridiculous number obtained
by adding up GM's total labor, health, and pension costs, and then
dividing by the total number of hours worked. In other words, it
includes all the healthcare and retirement costs of retired workers.
The reason the US and Japanese companies have different total costs
for their American workers? The US companies have been employing
American workers for almost a hundred years. They have a lot of
retirees. Most of the Japanese auto plants in the US are less than 20
years old. They have almost no retirees, so their costs are only for
So, why is this pernicious falsehood about inflated wages bouncing
around the public discourse on the auto industry? Several reasons.
First, it demonizes unions and their members as greedy and not
interested in the long-term health and profitability of the
corporations with which they sign contracts. It also ignores the fact
that in 2007 the UAW signed a landmark contract in which they assumed
future responsibility for healthcare for their members employed by the
Big Three. The auto companies paid in to a fund, which will be
administered by the UAW. Over the long haul, this is expected to
radically decrease the auto companies' legacy costs (although the best
way to help company and union is to pass national health care).
Making false claims inflating the earnings of unionized workers is
also part of the Republicans' long-held practice of class warfare.
It's intended to gin up envy and disgust at people making a good
hourly wage. Few people would be unsympathetic to an auto worker for
making $58,000 per year. But more would feel unsympathetic if they
thought that same auto worker made $73 per hour, which over the course
of a year is over $150,000.
Finally, harping on imaginary and inflated wages for workers is a way
to distract from one of the big problems with the US auto companies
(and most US corporations in any sector): executive compensation. For
instance, in 2007 General Motors CEO Rick Waggoner made close to $20
million in total compensation.
Are you surprised that conservatives are playing with math to come up
with the false figure of $73 per hour for UAW members working at the
Big Three, while saying nothing about a Big Three CEO making $9,500.00
<end article quote>