December 21, 2008

Kill the UAW--Kill the Middle Class: It's All in a Day's Work for the Rethugs

From the Washington Post:
Destroying What the UAW Built -- by Harold Meyerson

In 1949, a pamphlet was published that argued that the American auto industry should pursue a different direction. Titled "A Small Car Named Desire," [it suggested that] a substantial share of American consumers would welcome smaller cars that cost less and burned fuel more efficiently.
The pamphlet's author was the research department of the United Auto Workers.

[U]nder the leadership of Walter Reuther, the UAW was the most farsighted institution -- not just the most farsighted union -- in America.

In the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Reuther, then head of the union's General Motors division, came up with a detailed plan for converting auto plants to defense factories more quickly than the industry's leaders did.

[B]y the early 1950s, the UAW had . . . set a pattern for the rest of American industry and created the broadly shared prosperity enjoyed by the nation in the 30 years after World War II.

[T]he UAW also used its resources to incubate every up-and-coming liberal movement in America: the great 1963 March on Washington, César Chávez's farm workers union, the early '60s student movement, the National Organization for Women, and helped fund the first Earth Day.

And for decades, the UAW was among the foremost advocates of national health care -- a policy that, had it been enacted, would have saved the Big Three tens of billions of dollars in health insurance expenses, but which the Big Three themselves were, until recently, too ideologically hidebound to support.

The UAW not only built the American middle class but helped engender every movement at the center of American liberalism today -- which is one reason that conservatives have always hated it so.

Over the past several weeks, it has become clear that the Republican right wants to see the demise of the UAW so much that it would prefer to plunge the nation into a depression rather than craft a bridge loan that doesn't single out the auto industry's unionized workers for punishment.

Click here for the complete text.

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