Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday fly-by...

The Christmas box from Vermont just arrived; hopefully the one going will leave tomorrow.

The letter I still have to write; the shopping's at about 98% but the stuff isn't wrapping itself very quickly. Tonight we're keeping Dillon overnight and my sister is keeping Talia and Caleb so John can take Noel out for her 30th birthday. Tomorrow we're taking her "antiquing" for her birthday and perhaps part of Christmas, since we hadn't gotten a list from her yet.

I shopped yesterday and bought what I needed for Noel's "birthday dinner" tomorrow after we come back...she wants chicken breasts and mushroom and pepper skewers in Italian marinade off the grill.

A friend asked what I think of the bailout package...I had pretty much said my piece a few weeks ago but seeing the fiasco of the last few days has made me wonder...

Not very long ago the entire "raison-d'etre" for the GOP was "America First"..."Country First"...

Yet we have the "Senator from Toyota" (Richard Shelby of Alabama) and some others ready to flush not the 3 million jobs they count as UAW workers down the toilet, but also all the related ones, with the additional foreclosures and repos and everything else that will entail, to please their contributors from across the ocean who above all, beyond losing their tax breaks beyond losing their incentives, fear having to deal with a unionized workplace.

The payscales in the plants that Toyota, Nissan and others have scattered through the South are within a dollar an hour of what I made when I retired. In the last contract the UAW signed with the big 3, they agreed that new hires would come in at half that, and not only would they not come up to scale for 3 years, but if they are involved in anything except putting parts directly on the car (sub-assembly, material handling and delivery, sanitation) they never come up to that scale!

They also gave up pensions for anyone hiring in from this point forward.

Retiree health care, mine included, was no longer the companies responsibility after next year.

So the "wages and benefits" argument was already slain; it just makes nice soundbytes...

The thing that those other companies fear is being told "you can't"

You can't fire someone because you don't like them...

You can't fire them because of their skin color,

their gender,

their sexual indentity,

or their religion...

You can't fire them because they asked you to make something safer...

You can't fire them because they told you you were wrong about something...

You can't fire them to cover up your own mistakes...

You can't fire them because they needed to go to the restroom...

You can't fire them because they missed a day because they were sick.

You can't fire them because their parent, or child or their grandparent died!

It's sad that those who would like to wave the flag come election time don't think those are important things!

It's sad that those who would claim "Country First" as their mantra mean as long as it suits the shareholders.

I never built as "tight" a car, or well-engineered a car as the last ones I built. Finally, after 30 years of my banging my head against the wall, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel...all that was left was letting the last vestiges of "old management" retire and move out of the way.

Had the credit market not "locked up" like it did, there would have been no need for any of this discussion. The fault lies not at the door of the "big 3" but the door of Wall Street and the Treasury that did nothing except throw money at the problem and hope it went away!

Already the ripple effects had begun here...lay-offs, downtime, people knowing that by the end of January they will be drawing unemployment without any of those additional benefits everyone thinks we get because they don't have enough seniority...those were given up in that last contract as well for those new hires I spoke of.

Hopefully, the whispers of someone finally acting like a President and doing something about this are true and by Monday it will be "old news".

It won't save the 350 being laid off from my old plant, or the thousands across the country in the same shoes.

But that number will swell into the millions very shortly if something isn't done; and for every one of those others are going to lose their jobs as well.

The writing is on the wall for those who would care to read it...

Or even those who don't!

Sorry to be such a downer at what should be a happier time of the year, and on a Friday no less!

May your weekends be kind!

alan

6 comments:

Sonora Sage said...

This whole bailout thing has given rise to memories for me of when I was employed in the British auto industry, back in the 80s and early 90s. I took the "redundancy package" that was offered to me when BMW swooped in and rescued it from total extinction. Those memories prompted me to investigate what happened to that retirement fund I paid into for over ten years. After discovering that, too, had recently been "rescued" (by an outfit called, ironically, 'The Pension Protection Fund') I hear from them that they have no trace of me in their records. I've sent them all the documentation I have, but I'm not holding out a lot of hope at this point.

There's going to be a lot of people worse off than they thought they would be, for many years to come, because of all this.

zilla said...

Alpharat's posted a pic today that might make you smile.

The comment I left there fits here, too. Tough times are coming, but it won't be all bad...

Amber's Transition said...

The main problem is that the current (almost at an end now) powers that be have been mostly concerned with helping the leaders of the major corporations with getting richer while destroying the living standards of the "common man". People with few choices make better wage slaves for the corporate machines. Corporate greed is what the last 8 years have been about and now the "common man" is going to pay a heavy price for it while the heads of these corporations walk away with their fortunes intact.

LucyTolliday said...

Whatever happens the government cant help but be involved. Certainly by acting as a loan guarantor, protecting pensions and supporting restructuring.

kath said...

Ripple effect is what many people do not consider. Dan is laid off partially due to the trouble in the auto industry.

I agree that the trouble began with problems in the financial sector and that they are continuing due to the same kind of mismanagement there as they had six months ago.

There should be a cap on what CEOs can earn, and it should be based on the earnings of the corporation which they head. If the corporation is failing due to poor decision making on their part, they certainly should not leave with a bonus. At all times, a certain percentage of profit should be put aside within the company to deal with unforseen circumstances. A small percentage of this money should be distributed EQUALLY within the company at intervals determined by How well the company is doing. For instance. If that fund grows to a certain level and no problems have arisen after say three years, then everybody gets a bonus. Be it five dollars or five thousand, it would depend on how the business has done. No single person or small group of persons is responsible for success of a product or service. It is the whole, that is responsible,not just the head.


Ripple effect~ Hey there teachers, doctors, movie business etc... I have news for you. If we do not have money to pay taxes, get medical care or have disposable income of any kind, then you lose too. So get off of your high horses and stop blaming unions. If unions did not fight for decent wages in the past, you would not be where YOU are today either.

note:

I am not a huge fan of unions.. especially what they have turned into today. My husband is a union officer and I see enough to keep me feeling that the unions need some retooling, as much as the corporations. But The fact is, unions started out with the right idea and made a huge difference for the common man and woman.

*takes a deep breath*

hugs to you Alan.....

take care

robin andrea said...

Thank you for writing this, alan. I'm not a huge fan of bailouts, especially when it comes to Wall Street financial institutions, but providing a bridge loan to the auto industry seems to be a no-brainer. Of course it has to be done. The consequences of not doing it far outweigh the costs. I am appalled that the Republicans are using this horrible economic crisis to try and kill the unions. If it wouldn't mean the outright pain and anguish of entire cities,industries, and families, I almost wish that the Republicans would have their wish fulfilled. It would cement their anti-middle class ideology forever.