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Some U.S. Senators are real corkers. Take Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee. Please.
He’s on the committee overseeing the bailout of America’s auto companies and he recently popped his cork over the pay that unionized auto workers earn. He demanded that their wages be slashed as a price of the industry getting a $14 billion bailout. “We need to put in place specific and rigorous measures,” he cried.
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Odd that he was acting so tough toward those blue-collar folks, when he and his colleagues so meekly threw a $700-billion bailout at Wall Street bankers. Just one of those banks, Citigroup, was given $45 billion by the senators – with no questions asked. Indeed, Citigroup’s CEO is being paid $216 million this year, yet Corker made no demand that he take a whack in pay.
Those who are bashing workers want you to believe that union wages are exorbitant, topping $80,000 a year for a highly-skilled, experienced line worker. But, wait – total wages and benefits add up to less than 10 percent of a car’s price tag. Even if the union members worked for free, that wouldn’t save the corporations. Detroit’s problems aren’t on the factory floor, but up in the executive suites, where $10,000-an-hour CEOs have proven to be incompetent, unimaginative managers.
Yes, autoworkers make a good living – but isn’t that what we want for the families of our country? These workers define America’s middle-class ideal. They can afford to buy homes (and cars), send their kids to college, and even pay the taxes that cover Corker’s salary. By the way, the senator is paid double what auto workers get, and he doesn’t have to have any productive skills, do any heavy lifting, or deliver a product.
Someone should send a Henry Ford bobblehead to Corker to remind him of the auto pioneer’s wisdom: Good wages are the lifeblood of the industry – and of our economy.
“Democrats prepare to pitch auto rescue deal,” Austin American Statesman, December 7, 2008.
“Republicans Divided on Aid to Automakers,” www.nytimes.com, December 7, 2008.
“$73 an Hour: Adding It Up,” www.nytimes.com, December 10, 2008.