Nelson Gonzalez washes new Chevrolet cars offered for sale at the GM Felix dealership in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, Dec. 12, 2008. (AP / Damian Dovarganes)
CAW President Ken Lewenza speaks during a press conference in downtown Toronto, Friday, Dec. 12, 2008.
Auto bailout should hinge on saving jobs: CAW
December 13 2008
Canadian Auto Workers president Ken Lewenza praised the announcement of a potential $3.3-billion lifeline to the country’s car industry, but warned that it should hinge on promises by manufacturers to maintain jobs and keep plants open.
“The reason the CAW pushed for government involvement is because all governments are intervening in the economy and in particular the auto industry,” Lewenza told CTV Newsnet Saturday.
“But we want to protect our existing investment and our existing facilities. So there has to be a condition of government intervening to support the existing facilities and keep them open.”
Ontario NDP leader Howard Hampton said automakers should be providing both employment and product guarantees, if they are receiving government assistance.
“You need to get product guarantees, in other words, you want to be producing the cars and trucks of the future that people want to buy,” he said during an appearance on CTV Newsnet on Saturday.
“And secondly, you need some job guarantees.”
On Friday, Industry Minister Tony Clement announced the bailout package, which is a joint effort between the federal and Ontario governments.
Clement indicated during a news conference that manufacturers will have to prove they have plans for maintaining long-term viability in order to receive funds.
As well, the entire payout hinges on whether or not the United States approves its own proposed $14 billion bailout package.
Hampton said he felt the Canadian efforts appeared to be on the right track.
“My understanding is that the money that is being put out the door, or the money that is being offered, is conditional upon the proportion of auto sector jobs that are in Ontario and Canada now, staying in Ontario and Canada,” he said.
“That’s a fair start,” Hampton added.
$70 per hour?
While some critics have suggested autoworkers are costing their industry too much and making wages of more than $70 per hour, the Detroit Three automakers each report paying an average hourly wage of less than $30 U.S. for their workers.
The contentious $70 figure, which has been applied to U.S. workers only, also factors in health care costs and benefits for retired employees.
Hampton said the overriding market conditions are to blame for auto industry’s immediate financial challenges — not labour costs.
“It’s not workers’ wages that have resulted in this calamity,” he said.
“What’s really happened is this: American consumers are so scared right now that they’ve stopped buying just about everything.”
During a meeting with Chrysler executives on Friday, Lewenza said, company officials indicated that if market conditions change, they would be able to pay back government loans within two to three years.
According to Lewenza, auto manufacturers understand the importance of changing their business plans to include initiatives such as developing more environmentally friendly vehicles.
However, he said a shift in practices will “take some time.”
The news of the Canadian bailout package came a day after the U.S. Senate voted down the proposed $14-billion American bailout, after the United Auto Workers refused to make wage cut concessions.
After the vote, the White House announced it may dip into the US$700-billion bank bailout fund to help the auto sector.
The haggling coincides with an announcement by General Motors that it will shut down nearly all production in its North American plants throughout the month of January.
The move will affect 21 factories and cut 250,000 cars from the company’s first quarter production schedule.
GM’s Oshawa, Ont., plant will shut down for six weeks beginning in January.
If the US had a Universal Health Care system, the Heath Care benefits would not even have to be a consideration for the US auto workers.
How sad they the US government used that against them.
Not having Medical Insurance is one of the major causes of Bankruptcies in the US. Even if you have insurance, it may not cover all medical expenses. Everyone needs Health Care. That is an absolute necessity.
So if Health Care Insurance is so expensive through insurance companies and the private sector and it is, which do a terrible job at any rate, they should be eliminated and it should be in the hands of the state.
Health Care is not something that should be in the hands of the private sector. It costs more then it should. Profit you know. Many treatments that are required by a person are many times, denied by the “Insurance Companies” as well. People actually have to get a lawyer and go to court to get the treatments they need, because the insurance companies denied treatment. Of course by the time this is finished and you finally get the treatment, too often it is too late and you die.
Insurance companies will not even give you insurance because you have a pre exsiting condition or for many other reason. That is just not acceptable.
If the US blames Auto workers they are dead wrong, they should be looking at their own foolish greed, orientated, Health Care system.
Not receiving medical treatment is just a form of “Torture” as far as I am concerned.
In Canada Health Care is not even a consideration as they have Universal Health Care for everyone. Maybe the US should be going down the same path as Canada.
Even Cuba has Universal Health Care for their people.
I would even go vacation in Cuba, because if I were to get sick while vacationing there could I could go to one of their hospitals and “guess what” they would give me help. No problem.
So given a choice of vacation spots Cuba wins over the US. To go on vacation in the US I would have to purchase Insurance just in case and even if I had that and were to get sick it may not cover my needs. Insurance companies are like that, you pay them not to help you when you need it most. They love you until you become ill, then they don’t love you anymore.
Universal Health Care should be a priority in any country.
Insurance companies are not to be trusted with something so important as Health Care.
Insurance companies can at the drop of a hat declare bankruptcy and go out of business as well. Here today gone tomorrow.
The other thing that stopped the bill in the Senate from going through is the Republicans didn’t want to force care makers to make cars that were fuel efficient. They were totally against that. Well all cars should be more fuel efficient.
So instead of looking at how things operate in the the US they choose to blame the Auto Workers for all the problems as to why the bill did not pass. Auto workers are not to blame in all this. They are the victims.
US profiteering, policies are. Of course lest we forget it was their deregulation, greed, orientated policies, that caused the “Financial Crisis” in the first place now wasn’t it?
Capitalism always implodes on itself. It is not sustainable over the long term. That has been proven quite adequately it seems. Privatization drives up the price of everything until no one can afford anything.
The US seems to have never learned these lessons. They still push their policies even though they are complete and utter failures. They have rammed their policies down the throats of every country they can and they have failed there as well. If you don’t like their policies they will and have many times gone to war with those countries. They just feed their people a bunch of propaganda and lies and away they go.
They are the bully on the block, who if they don’t get their own way will beat the crap out of you.
They don’t care who dies in their own country, why would they care who dies in any other country?
For all we know they created this Financial Crisis on purpose.
Seems to me many country’s are now having to go to the World bank or IMF to get loans which means those country’s are under the control of the lenders.
As Rothchild said: