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By Gregg Shotwell, UAW Local 1753 (Retired)

Our Republican friends on the Hill want to make us take concessions until we’re earning less than foreign auto plants in Alabama. A fine how do you do. Trouble is, as soon as we reach parity with the Work for Less states, the competition will lower the limbo stick. And they’ll keep lowering it until all workers are face down in the dirt.

But many of us agree that the Job Bank is a hoax. At the last GM plant where I worked, management put forty people in the Job Bank and assigned one person to watch them do nothing. The rest of us had to work mandatory overtime to make up for the lost production.

Why would a company pay people to sit down and do nothing and then pay other employees time and half to make up for what the do-nothings weren’t doing? It doesn’t make sense unless you are keeping two sets of books. One for the company and another for the Center for Human Resources [CHR], a tax exempt non profit corporation that administers funds for Job Bank and reimburses salaries, benefits, and expenses for 30% of International UAW reps.

 The purpose of the Job Bank was never to save jobs. The purpose was to silence protest. The Job Bank is in effect a hypnotic drug like Ambien. It puts workers to sleep while their jobs are outsourced. This isn’t an opinion, it’s a numerical fact.  The Center for Human Resources with the cooperation of the International UAW has overseen the reduction of hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs.

It’s counterintuitive to pay workers for not working. It’s like paying farmers not to grow crops. Unemployment is a drain on the economy. It’s nonproductive. It keeps all boats from rising by depressing wages. But for trickle downers there’s an upside: degrading workers curbs inflation. Likewise, Job Bank has an upside for the companies. It mothballs workers, gets them off the books, and curbs demand for real job security—meaningful work.

There’s only one reasonable solution to the wastefulness of Job Bank and unemployment compensation: work. We should jump on that concession with both feet. There is a lot of work to be done at GM since Hurricane Wagoner hit. The government could invest in rebuilding the manufacturing base just like the governments of Japan, Korea, China, and India have done. How long did it take the auto companies to retool at the onset of WW2? We’ve done it before and we can do it again. But this time let’s beat the the fossil fuel burners into cutting edge transports.

 Under the current proposals by the Detroit Three, government loans would be used to close plants and cut jobs. How does it help communities or the larger economy to reduce the workforce and undermine the tax base? Any government assistance should be tied to job creation which is why we would gladly concede the Job Bank, a proven job killer, and replace it with a plan to create meaningful work.

 Another concession we could gladly make is in the area of UAW appointees who get paid to keep the rabble unaroused. We could save a lot of money by kicking those slackers off the gravy train. For every UAW appointee carrying a clipboard GM has a white collar working hard to double the redundancy. We can afford to concede the UAW Appointees. Put them back on the line and reduce overtime in favor of full employment.

We can also concede the twelve hours of double time the Bargaining Chair gets to sit home on Sunday. Let’s concede that payoff. Instead of the company paying union offs to hide in their cubby holes, let’s put them back to work until they are called out and actively investigating a grievance. We don’t need union offs who are beholden to the boss.

While we’re at it, let’s give the anti union crowd one they really want: dues check off. Instead of having the company automatically deduct dues from our paychecks, make the union rep come around to each and every worker once a month and collect. Call it, the Accountability Check Off. Workers would pay their dues and the Union rep would hear what they thought of his or her job performance.

There are plenty of concessions UAW members are willing to make. We will give them Ron Gettelfinger’s mustache. We will give them Bob King’s phony apprenticeship. We will give them Cal Rapson’s rap sheet. We will give them Jimmy Settles extra chin. We will give them General Holiefield’s bag of wind.  We will give them Elizabeth Bunn’s deer in the headlight stare. We will gladly give up the Center for Human Resources and the hundreds of millions of payola connected to joint funds. We’d be glad to flush the waste out of the system.

But we won’t give up what we have earned. We won’t give up our pensions, benefits, wages, or work rules. And we insist that the United States finally live up to world class standards and provide health care for the whole working class.

Jobs with Justice has issued a call for a National Week of Action, December 7-13 >

As many predicted, the Wall Street Bailout has proven to be the gross give-away to the same financial bigwigs that have been pocketing millions while wrecking the real economy. Little or no benefit has gone to the working people and the real economy, at a time that we face the greatest economic crisis since the1930s. By the time Obama is sworn in, hundreds of thousands of additional people will lose their jobs, lose their homes and lose their health care.

     It's time for a "People's Bailout" that fixes the real economy, restores a voice for working people in challenging corporate greed, provides emergency help to the victims of the crisis and begins building a fair economy that works for all, addressing crises in housing, health care, jobs, retirement security and the environment.

     Jobs with Justice coalitions and ally organizations are calling for a Week of Actions around the country that educate and mobilize in support of a Peoples Bailout.

      Immediately we call for:

    - Pass an economic stimulus/recovery package, on the scale of the emergency we face, that addresses emergency needs and supports jobs in the real economy;

    - Pass the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA);

    - Stop evictions due to foreclosures;

    - Emergency action so people losing jobs don't lose health care.

     Lay the groundwork for a long-term recovery program including:

    - Green jobs and clean energy;

    - Restore worker justice, including EFCA and other reforms;

    - Health care for all;

    - Retirement security;

    - Re-regulate the finance system and make the speculators pay to clean-up their mess

     - Fair policies on Trade and Migration that honor workers here and abroad  

Jobs with Justice is calling for this national week of action across the country, in coordination with groups such as Institute for Policy Studies, US Action, American Friends Service Committee, National Community Reinvestment Coalition.  Visit for more information.

What you can do:

1) Contact your local JwJ coalition to get involved in activities in your area. We will post a list of actions next week.

2) Organize your own event. Visit to download an organizing kit and let us know what you are planning. ==================================================================  

The International UAW is notably AWOL from this call to action in defense of working people. The UAW’s inaction is all the more reason for rank & file members to support Jobs with Justice. This crisis isn’t about the privileges of the Detroit Three, it’s about all workers.

Stay Solid,

Gregg Shotwell


Originally posted to Public D on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 07:47 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Just saw Lindsay Graham on FNS. (7+ / 0-)

    Wallace asked him more or less was it fair for the big three to get gov't money for a bailout while
    BMW in SC got nothing. I haven't been able to find the exact amounts but BMW got long term tax incentives to locate there to begin with. They got their "cash equivalents" right from the start.

    CHRISTIAN, n. One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. A. Bierce

    by irate on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 08:01:53 AM PST

    •  1999 article about the tax incentives (8+ / 0-)

      S.C. pays dearly for added jobs

      But, thanks to incentives, BMW's South Carolina plant has escaped millions of dollars in taxes and costs that industrial companies expect to pay in developed nations.

      BMW paid only $1.4 million in state taxes of all kinds in 1998 and $6.7 million in local taxes, mostly building and equipment taxes to one small school district. Together, that's less than 2 percent of what the company paid in worldwide taxes for the year.

      Government giveaways permeate BMW's finances.

      South Carolina taxpayers spent $40 million on a runway for BMW's planes. They furnished millions more for BMW worker "training," including whitewater rafting trips for BMW executives. The company pays $1 a year to lease its $36 million piece of land. It pays no land tax to Spartanburg County. Building and equipment tax on the first phase of BMW's plant is 43 percent lower than what established businesses have to pay. Tax discounts on BMW's second phase are even bigger -- 62 percent -- even though the expansion couldn't have been built anywhere but Greer.

      BMW has never paid South Carolina's 5 percent tax on corporate profits and shows no signs of doing so for years. Start-up and depreciation costs will delay profitability "until early in the next century," said BMW spokesman Bobby Hitt. But even then, tens of millions of dollars in incentive credits will keep BMW immune to income taxes for much longer.

      •  very good find..thanks for this.. (5+ / 0-)

        I suspect that the Southern Senators who represent states where these companies reside are the ones who are interested in seeing Detroit and the big three go down..they are in a race to the bottom wagewise...but a race to the top in terms of reaping socialized rewards for their officers, managers, stockholders and their corporate personhood..

  •  Great diary. I hope it gets on the rec list. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    313to212, JanL, RubyGal, Dirtandiron, Public D

    Doesn't Detroit have the highest foreclosure rate in the country now?

    Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

    by Futuristic Dreamer on Sun Nov 30, 2008 at 08:15:25 AM PST

    •  Houses Cheaper than Cars in Detroit (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      March 2007:

      After selling house after house in the Motor City for less than the $29,000 it costs to buy the average new car, the auctioneer tried a new line: "The lumber in the house is worth more than that!"


      July 2008:

      The good news is that home sales in the city of Detroit through June are up by a whopping +46.56% (YTD) compared to last year (5,389 homes sold in 2008 YTD vs. 3,677 last year), but the bad news is that the average price for a home sold in Detroit has fallen by 56% to only $19,448 so far this this year, compared to an average price last year of $44,346 for the January-June period! Compared to the peak of $97,850 for the average Detroit home price in 2003, prices have fallen by 80%


  •  Thanks for information (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RubyGal, Dirtandiron, Public D, rk2

    I hope this diary gets the attention it deserves.

  •  The title doesn't match the content of the Diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    When I saw the title, I expected something like

    the UAW is willing to make concessions on X, Y, and Z

    in return for

    a share of ownership - which would be protected in a Chapter 11 scenario
    some level of job security for some number of workers
    or some other reasonable alternative

    Instead, there are references to some "job bank". I do not know what that is, much less why that idea is bad or good.

    •  Sorry about your expectations (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The UAW shouldn't concede anything outside this diary.

    •  I guess you haven't been listening to the right (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dirtandiron, Public D

      wing radio talkers on this subject..because over and over again, they are suggesting that UAW workers sit around collecting pay is a focus of their attention to smear the UAW and the workers in general..

      There has been pushback but not nearly enough..the media has tried to control the message on behalf of those Senators in states where there are nonunion auto companies..

      If that is correct..this is what I understand the situation to be with the job bank..

    •  Job bank (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The Jobs Bank was set up by mutual agreement between U.S. automakers and the United Auto Workers union to protect workers from layoffs. Begun in the mid-1980s, the program is being tapped by thousands of workers. Many of those receiving checks do community service work or take courses. Others sit around, watching movies or doing crossword puzzles -- all while making $26 an hour or more.

      The Big Three automakers agreed to the system to protect union workers from outsourcing and technology. But with Ford and General Motors losing money in North America -- and contract negotiations due in 2007 -- the future of the unique program is uncertain.

      In an interview with The Detroit News, General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner says his company can't sustain the price of the program, which he says runs to $400 million annually.

      If I understand it correctly (and I would welcome help from the diarist) if there is no work, instead of laying off employees, they become eligible for the "job bank" where they are paid even though they aren't working.  They can stay in the job bank for a set amount of time, i.e. 2 years, but have cannot turn down other available jobs.  

      I am not sure how the job bank is a job killer.  It seems to be an unemployment program.  

  •  Rec this diary up and we should move the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Jobs with Justice link forward.. I will donate a diary to this effort..

    I read on one of the links you provided that December 8th is going to be a day of rallies and marches on Detroit..

    Would it be helpful for people from other unions or organizations to join in this march?

    Should there be a mobilization of this here on Daily Kos..I have a reputation for rallying troops here..umm..

  •  Can you explain what the Job Bank is? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tietack, Mia Dolan

    That would certainly help me understand this.

  •  Job Bank (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    What is the job bank?

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