Tuesday, September 25, 2007

This is IT!

So. The strike is on.

Unless you've been living in a cave for the last day and a half, you know that the U.A.W. has gone on strike against GM. This strike will be the true test of whether organized labor has any real power left.

I don't claim to know all the details, but I know that the big issue separating the 2 sides of the bargaining table is--of course--health care. What a surprise.

The figure I've heard is that GM currently pays approximately $1300 per vehicle it manufactures to cover the costs of health care for its current and former employees. I can't imagine the other American automakers pay much less.

And that is the problem! American manufacturers are losing their competitive edge in every market due to the rising cost of health care in this country. And they seem to have NO problem with that.

I mean, if American business was at all serious about cutting their manufacturing costs, they would press the government to provide universal health care, thus removing a major cost of doing business. But there is no interest in doing that. They are more interested in buying politicians to give them more tax breaks while blaming workers for their financial woes.

So I will be interested to see how this strike turns out. The PR machines of both sides are in full-on attack mode. And, while the U.A.W. may be in the weaker position financially, they have the power of the people. Including me.

It remains to be seen how powerful that power is.


Anonymous said...

;I think the GM strike, notably brief though it was, had as much to do with outsourcing of jobs as the health care problem, serious as that is. How old will you be before we fix the health care mess, do you think? My guess: 2037, and I am an optimist.

EJ RULEZ! said...

Yes, the strike was about job security as well as health care, but I think that forcing the Union to choose between helping to pick up the cost of health care or saving jobs is shameful when we are talking about the world's wealthiest industrialized nation!