Saturday, November 22, 2008

Auto Solution II

Up the road without a map
national president, Canadian Auto Workers union
November 20, 2008
Your editorial demands CAW concessions as part of any deal to restructure the North American auto industry (Keeping A Foot In The Car Door - Nov. 19).
The CAW was the first major player in the North American industry to respond pro-actively to the devastating effects of the financial crisis and credit crunch. Our new three-year contract freezes wages, suspends cost of living protection, and introduces, once fully implemented, savings totalling $300-million per year (or more than $10,000 per worker, per year) for Canadian auto makers.
Auto labour costs are significantly lower in Canada than in the U.S., Germany and Japan - yet our productivity is higher (at least 10 per cent better than in America).
We didn't write the free trade deals, we don't manage the companies, we don't design the vehicles - we just build them. The best thing we can do as auto workers is to keep building vehicles in the most efficient, high-quality plants in the hemisphere, at competitive costs.

CAW Ken Lewenza says; "We didn't write the free trade deals, we don't manage the companies, we don't design the vehicles - we just build them." And that's the problem. The solution to the auto crisis is not more concessions from the workers, thats been tried and it hasn't worked. Just as federal provincial aid have not helped because we lack a made in Canada Industrial strategy.

Jim Stanford, chief economist at the CAW, said newly signed contracts between the union and the Canadian arms of the Detroit automakers include several unprecedented givebacks, such as an 18-month suspension in cost-of-living increases.
A lack of policy attention from governments in both Canada and the United States have contributed to Detroit's collapse as much as anything else, he said.
"In Japan and Germany and Korea and now China, governments proactively nurture and support high-value export industries like autos. In North America, for the last two decades, we haven't bothered."

Rather the solution is right in front of all of us the workers should control auto manufacturing in Canada they should manage and design the cars not just 'build them'.

Ken if you don't want to discuss concessions then you better start talking about workers control of the means of production.

If there is to be a bailout, let it be for us, the workers. Who dare say we’re unqualified? In the 1920s Italian workers at Fiat and Alfa Romeo took over the plants, and they made cars without bosses. Even as we speak, workers in Venezuela are taking over plants and running them.

And I would add to that the Paris Revolution of 1968 and the Hot Autumn of 1969 when auto workers in France and Italy along with student radicals took over factories and universities and put them under worker control.

Capitalism is in a crisis it is time to socialize capital under workers control.

November 20, 2008
A suggestion for Big Three and UAW (updated)
Michael Nadler
My conceptual solution to the auto company bailout question is as follows:
The federal government makes a one-time only injection of the requested $25 billion into the Big Three in return for a proportionate ownership stake in the companies. Based on the current market capitalization of GM and Ford and my estimate of the market value of privately-held Chrysler, that would give the government about 80% ownership in the 3 companies. (A discount from the market price could be justified for such an investment, providing a higher ownership stake.)
The $25 billion cash injection is conditioned on the United Auto Workers (UAW) accepting a gift of the 80% (or higher) ownership stake from the government, giving the UAW absolute control of the 3 auto companies which will then be exempted from any anti-trust restrictions on consolidations, etc. The fate of the Big 3 and its workers will then be entirely in the hands of the UAW, which could strike the appropriate balance between compensation and competitiveness, as well as the many other issues that will determine the fate of the auto companies it now owns, the jobs they provide and the workers it represents. In that regard, the obligations of the PBGC might be limited as part of this grand bargain.

Workers' control of the means of production?
One of the most influential books on my political outlook when I was first getting politically aware was Geoff Hodgson's The Democratic Economy, published by Pelican Books in 1984. In it he advocated an economy predominantly consisting of worker-owned enterprises: market collectivism, to use a phrase of Jaroslav Vanek. In a Market Collectivist economy, argues Hodgson(p.177), "The workers are self-managed: they do not work under the direct or indirect control of a capitalist...the workers (collectively) own the product of their labour, which they bring to the market for sale."

We Own GM
Auto Solution

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