GM strike

Mark Jones Jones_M at
Fri Jun 26 19:04:02 PDT 1998

Nathan Newman wrote:

> Maybe my math is worse that yours, but by your numbers, there is
> potentially $64,000 per worker available with a GDP of $8 trillion. Even
> in your numbers, there is $30.80 in hourly GDP per worker,

$30.80 x 40 x 52 *IS* $64k on my calculator. I'm not sure what Doug's point in all this is but Nathan appears to be arguing that globalism is good because when corporations like Chrysler and Daimler merge it lets trade unions merge too. Some years ago the unions at Ford's UK plants broke Mrs Thatcher's pay-control policy because they were able to involve Ford rank and file in other countries, so the principle of cross-national organisation isn't such a novelty (I think Karl Marx actually set up some organisation or other for the same general purpose, a long time ago).

Nathan wrote:

> why is it so inconceivable to move much more of the
> population from the low wages they are currently paid?

Because trade unions are not and never have been vehicles of fundamental wealth redistribution. Unless you're a syndicalist, you can't surely suppose they ever COULD be; but perhaps you *are* all syndicalists, since you intellectuals seem to be members of manual and craft unions (Why the UAW? Why not join the IWW? John Reed was in it, wasn't he?).


> Of course on a global scale, this is much tougher in the short-term, but
> pushing wages up, not worrying about the few wage outliers like
> autoworkers, should be our focus.
> I would also note that, as I expected, the $44 per hour number you
> initially cited is almost double the real average hourly rate for most
> autoworkers.
> >The sad thing is that people are supposed to celebrate an economy where a
> >kid with a college degree can step out and make $50,000 his first year
> in
> >the job market, then turn around and begrudge an autoworker for making
> >that much after decades in the job.
> -Most kids don't make $50k straight out of college.
> The issue is not that most kids do; the question is whether we should
> worry about a few autoworkers making that much after decades of work, when
> there is a sizable minority of these young (and not so young) folks making
> so much with little invested in time in their jobs.
> >How much is General Motors paying their executives, engineering staff,
> and
> >advertising staff? I bet their salaries have gone up much faster than the
> >lineworkers and parts subcontractors.
> -Well no shit, Nathan, but do you really think the UAW is about to
> question
> -the class structure of American capitalism? The UAW is one of the dumbest
> -unions around. They've got no strategy, no vision, no politics. It pains
> me
> -that I pay them dues (National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981).
> As a UAW member (or rather member until I recently finished by graduate
> degree), I can't disagree that the UAW has not been that creative, but the
> leadership has actually been getting better under Yorich. They've fought
> hard in a number of battles and actually been using these brushfire fights
> at small contractors and units quite effectively to take on the auto
> companies. I believe that they have even had their membership increase in
> the last few years.
> Are they taking on capitalism? Well, they are demanding that workers get
> their pay and trying to take it out of the hides of the stockholders. Its
> not socialism but it hurts capitalism a hell of a lot more than a nasty
> Marxist lecture in a classroom.
> Some of the recent discussions between the UAW and the German unions
> actually raise the spectre of truly global union integration which, if it
> takes the next step beyond those two countries, could really shake things
> up.
> And for that, I will defend those bourgois salaries those autoworkers are
> making.
> --Nathan Newman

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