<< GM wants to shut its
North American plants down completely; but if wages are so darn high here,
why are Honda, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Daimler etc. setting up plants here?
Stupidity? That fabled Japanese/German quest for world hegemony? Hardly.
They're here because GM produces crap and expects consumers to buy it, >>
Foreign companies are also here because the union tends to be weaker here than in other countries. Aside from the wage issue, US workers have less time off the job than any other industrial country in the world. F'rinstance, the average Japanese worker -- the bourgeoisies love model of obedience and productivity -- has 17 holidays a year while the US worker gets 11. In addition, safety in US factories is very poor -- and the payout for disabled workers is very low IN COMPARISON with European countries (I don't know about Japan). So, the weakness of unionism has led to very poor working conditions for american workers when compared with conditions in other industrial countries (Please, let's not begin comparisons with non-industrial countries). Despite higher money wages, the actual payout for a well educated workforce experienced with new technologies may be lower here than elsewhere. So given a choice of where to locate, companies find an educated workforce which doesn't exist in non-industrial countries getting less non-monetary benefits and government protection than workers in other industrial countries.
As to Doug's criticisms of the UAW, I think he is right, the union has displayed an amazin' lack of leadership -- even more so in their relatively unknown industries, like electrical plants which employ primarily women and minorities or in the intellectual trades of which Doug is a member. However, I think this latest round of militant actions may be due to pressure from membership. As the unions shrink, even the most entrenched bureaucracy gets worried about its future and get out there to defend itself. The most recent contstruction brouhaha in manhattan was a good example -- the local which brought the most people is a laborers union recently formed because of the lack of democracy in other more entrenched locals (I think it's Local 79, but that may not be correct).
maggie coleman mscoleman at aol.com