Does Obama Hate the Auto Workers?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

When lawmakers demanded strict conditions placed on the Big Three Automakers before their request for a bridge loan was approved, many said it was a clear case of Washington elites attacking people who shower after work as opposed to before work.

Now, assembly line autoworkers are reacting with skepticism and anger to the Obama administration’s tough tactics, which stoked long-simmering feelings that the people who put the country in cars and trucks get treated differently than the wizards of Wall Street.

According to Brian Fredline, president of UAW Local 602 at a plant near Lansing:

“It’s the age-old Wall Street vs. Main Street smackdown again. You have all kinds of funding available to banks that are apparently too big to fail, but they’re also too big to be responsible.  But when it comes to auto manufacturing and middle-class jobs, people don’t matter on Wall Street, there are certainly different standards that we have to meet, higher standards than the financials. That is a double standard that exists and it’s unfair.”

President Obama said the administration will offer GM “adequate working capital” during the next 60 days to produce an acceptable reorganization plan. The government gave Chrysler LLC 30 days to overcome hurdles to a merger with Fiat SpA, the Italian automaker.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm called Obama’s moves “a bit of tough love,” yet recognized a disconnect between the financial and auto industries:

“I do think that there has been a different look at those who manufacture than those who make money by flipping paper and I’m hopeful that the financial industry gets as tough a scrutiny as the auto industry has.”

However, the characterization of the nation’s autoworkers needing  “tough love” from this president is patronizing. It reinforces the perception that Wall Street is treated differently than Detroit. Why wasn’t AIG and Citi Group required to restructure their business model as a condition to drink from the TARP trough?

This entry was posted in Bailout, Big Three Automakers, President Barack Obama, U.S. Economy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Does Obama Hate the Auto Workers?

  1. Adirondacky says:

    The financial help Detroit asked for is a loan and not a bailout. The loan is to be paid back to the U.S. government with interest. Does Wall Street plan to repay any part of the TARP bailout? Of course not.

  2. libhomo says:

    Banksters write bigger checks for political candidates than auto workers.

  3. R.J. says:

    Because a guy working on the line makes the same salary whether he or she is employed? I’d kill to have those kind of benefits. $450 a week unemployment won’t cut it here in Cali.

  4. bradfrmphnx says:

    I don’t feel sorry for a union that has placed so many benefits at their collective feet as the auto workers union. And to me ALL unions are corrupt as hell. Let them eat cake.

  5. There should have never been a bailout.

  6. Estacada says:

    The original $700 billion dollar bailout was a massive thank-you gift to George Bush’s supporters on Wall Street.

    Has it helped stave off worsening unemployment, or stop foreclosers, or freed up investment capital to help municipal projects? Not once. Not once.

    The American people were lied to by their elected lawmakers — Republican and Democrat alike. Every House member and every senator who voted in favor of the bailout belongs in jail.

  7. Aunt Peg says:

    I think Obama is going to have a very difficult time carrying Michigan in 2012.

    The perception is, he has about as much use for the Big Three Automakers as a bad cold.

  8. jimmy says:

    It fascinating that as we are living with the aftermath of the corrupt and unethical culture of Wall Street that someone is going moan about corrupt unions. Why are contracted retention bonuses sacrosanct, but bargained UAW contracts can be reneged upon without a pause? Collectively bargained wages and benefits solidified the middle class. Is it any surprise that decades of stagnant wages has coincided with the decline of organized labor?

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