Friday, December 26, 2008

Congressman Barney Frank: GOP Focused On Auto Workers' Concessions



Speaking on CNN, Democratic Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts pointed out to Republican Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia that the concessions the GOP demands from the auto industry fall disproportionately on the side of the workers:

Cantor: ...we over the last several weeks been talking about alternatives as to how we can protect the tax payers and then stave off the threat of a loss of significant number of jobs in the auto industry. And I believe the way we do that is that we get the concessions up front. Everyone knows that Detroit is not competitive. Everyone knows that the wage rates of the domestic manufacturers far exceed that of their foreign competitors...

Frank: ...It is striking to me that when Eric Cantor talks about concessions, it's only the workers... Yes, the workers have already started to make concessions. They signed a contract that will be much less going forward. They have agreed to waive their jobs bank. I agree there should be concessions but unilaterally imposing them on working men and women and setting -- and by the way, what the Republican position was was that the foreign auto companies should set the wage level for Americans. They want to put that into law, that American workers in unions, bargaining, would instead be told by the law that they would be paid what foreign auto companies would pay without comparable concessions.

Frank points toward the goal of Southern Republicans in particular, many of whom host foreign auto manufacturers in their states. By weakening collective bargaining and driving down wages to the level of the foreign companies, they will render the United Auto Workers irrelevant. The dialogue continued:

Cantor: We all know that in this country, there are three manufacturers that are not doing well and the rest that are doing well.

Frank: No, they're not doing well.

Frank, unlike Cantor, knows what he's talking about:

In more bad news for Japan’s auto industry, Toyota said Wednesday that its global vehicle sales plunged 21.8 percent in November, the biggest drop in eight years.

A rival, Nissan, said its worldwide sales sank 19.8 percent and global production nose-dived a record 33.7 percent on depressed sales in the United States.

...Japan’s No. 2 carmaker, Honda, also said Wednesday that its global production in November tumbled 9.9 percent, the biggest fall in five years, to 326,176 vehicles. Honda does not provide global vehicle sales.


So the foreign auto manufacturers are also not doing well, despite the lower wages of their employees. Such considerations, however, are irrelevant to the Republicans as they continue their war against the labor movement and their determination to reduce workers' salaries.

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