To what do I owe the pleasure of this company? What is owed to me and to what account do I owe by the nature of my birth? Solemn allegiance and my blood poured out on foreign fields for the honor and glory of brass buttons and medal-resplendent generals?
A promise? A dream? A promise is a note for some other time, and a dream was never real in the first place. So open up the envelope and find what you’ve won: nothing. To think, you’ve worked your whole life in a marriage with the country of your birth only to find yourself no more than a concubine, thrown over for another, younger and cheaper.
If I were a German autoworker my wage would be $33.44 per hour with four weeks vacation a year. If I were a Japanese autoworker I’d earn $25.60 an hour plus an annual bonus, a bonus that last year ranged between $17,000 to $22,000. If I were so unfortunate as to be an American autoworker I’d start out at $14.00 an hour and top out at $28.00 per hour. I say unfortunate because Americans hate UAW members, those fat, lazy Americans trying to feed their families and pay their taxes.
The chairman of Goldman Sachs gave himself a $70 million bonus last year, or about what that fat, lazy American autoworker would earn in 1,200 years. The whole board of directors gave themselves between $60 to $65 million each as bonuses, not including their regular salaries. They didn’t work nights or second shifts, never listened to the foundry's hammer pound. This year they have been praised by Treasury Secretary Paulson for forgoing their bonus for"this year." Paulson called them "wise and prudent" while keeping their jobs in a company that has lost $4.00 to $5.00 dollars per share.
Conservatives and Wall Street experts say that we should just let GM go into bankruptcy so that the company can escape its labor contracts. To throw the cost of GM pensioners onto the back of the Pension Guarantee Trust Corporation. You see, big government was the answer after all… when it suits them. The company wins, Wall Street wins, then the company can void all the contracts of the less profitable dealers nationwide, at will, and bring unemployment to thousands whose fault it was to choose the wrong place to work.
It's only America bleeding, but pay them no mind, it’s just another self-inflicted wound. Just another girl cutting herself because she hates what she sees in the mirror. Just another family with the utilities turned off. Just another family trying to feed themselves on our national minimum wage, a wage that has remained frozen for nine years. Now Goldman Sachs, they’re wise and prudent, but talk to me about it in eight more years. Meanwhile, the poor French with their socialism must eke out a living on a minimum wage of $10.71 with the cost their healthcare paid for by the government.
Give me liberty or give me death; in America you’ll get both. Wall Street eyes the Korean model where autoworkers earn $7.50 per hour and 20% are contracted workers who earn $3.60 per hour. Since 1987, unions have been legal in Korea, but when push comes to shove during labor negotiations, the police round up the labor leaders, pushing and shoving and them into jail cells for protective custody.
Citibank, in an effort to remain profitable, is eliminating 53,000 jobs. Thanks a lot for all your years of service, now get lost. Citi stands in line for their share of the bailout money and has come up with another great idea. Let’s raise credit card interest rates on our customers. We have to, you know, to cover our losses. The customers must pay for the company's mistakes; the taxpayers must bail them out to cover the company's mistakes. But let's blame the auto workers union, their decent wages and retirement packages are destroying an industry with their insistent demands for living wages.
Now Japanese auto manufactures, operating in non-union states, have a more enlightened relationship with their employees. The have an open door management policy; any employee with a grievance can go straight to company management and complain. If, for example, an American employee at one of Toyota’s manufacturing plants were to ask why Toyota’s Japanese employees were given $20,000 bonuses but not its American employees, management would hear them out before showing them that ever-open door.
Because we can, they would answer. Because we can shut down this whole factory if we choose to. We would still have to pay for the millions of dollars worth of equipment we’ve invested in. But you? You, we would just show to the door and be done with you. If one of our million dollar machines were to break down, we would spend tens of thousands of dollars to have it fixed. But you? You must pay for most of your own healthcare and invest in your own retirement. Those machines are valuable, but you… there’s the door.
A mother that hates her own children, a mother that sleeps with foreign men and introduces them as uncles. A mother that cares more about the gold coins left on the nightstand, yet tells her children that they should love their mother. A mother that praises bank presidents and despises autoworkers and all workers and anyone that can’t buy her a drink or show her a good time.
The German autoworkers are asking for an 8% raise this year, and the Japanese autoworkers a 5% raise. And their American counterparts? Yeah, right, they’re destroying the whole fabric of the economy with their high wages, or so we are told. In Korea, labor leaders are in hiding.