Even before the bailout was announced last month, Chrysler LLC announced it would close all of its 30 production plants for one month — and that it plans to close some permanently. General Motors had already announced the idling of an undisclosed number of plants in the United States and Canada during the first three months of 2009 and the elimination of 30,000 jobs as part of its overall restructuring plan. Ford, Nissan, Toyota and Honda have also announced plans for deep cutbacks in plant production, citing a drastic drop in car sales.
For autoworkers and all workers, this situation is made worse by the frontal attack on the United Auto Workers union by a block of southern U.S. Senators. They demanded that the union reduce UAW wages and cut legacy costs, such as pensions and other benefits, to the level of workers in the non-union, foreign owned auto companies in southern “right to work” states. As a result, the loan bailout announced by Bush requires further cuts in wages and benefits to be made by the autoworkers union. This government requirement could represent a fundamental change in how wages and benefits of U.S. workers are determined.
Clearly we are witnessing globalization coming home to roost after years of foreign capital concentrating their investments in some of the poorest areas of this country, particularly in the south, with its primarily non-union labor. This southern strategy of global capital, has now positioned them, with their southern political representatives leading the charge, to begin tearing down the foundation of the entire U.S. wage structure that has been historically based in northern industry. Now we have government dictating the wage and benefit levels for American workers in the private sector!
In the September 2008 issue of the People’s Tribune (Volume 35, Number 9) our cover story entitled, “Then and Now…Why the American Dream Has Become A Nightmare,” we made the point that the growing use of labor-less production (robots and computers) is rapidly replacing human beings as wage earners. The consequence of this to a capitalist system is the rapid destruction of the capitalist market itself (rapidly increasing numbers of people without the money to buy what is produced). Further, we showed that this modern technology is not the problem, but is the solution, since it is precisely what is needed to produce the necessary abundance to benefit all of society, increasingly freeing us of the daily burden and drudgery of work. The problem we pointed to is the capitalist system of production and exchange itself.
With this in mind, what are the next steps about what needs to be done? How do the vast majority of people in society go about protecting their inter-connected self interests as workers? Certainly, the nationalization of the corporations to produce in the interests of the majority of society is a big and necessary step along the way. However, this requires the majority to act and organize itself into the kind of political force to exercise its political will, independently of those representing the interests of the capitalist class.
We either organize ourselves to nationalize the corporations in the interests of the majority, or we will continue to be the willing victims of a very well calculated and organized attack on our lives, by a corporate government intent on maintaining the power and privilege of the capitalist class at our expense. Either we act or we will be acted upon.
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People's Tribune Editorial Board
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