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May 21, 2005

Cars and Jobs

The rust belt in the Midwest is crumbling. Newest proof - new, non-union, foreign-owned auto plants in the South. There are two major things that separate union plants from the non-union ones: free healthcare and pension plans. That is, unionized auto workers have a right to healthcare and a right to retire with dignity. Unfortunately, that isn't good for business. It cranks up costs and in our ridiculous country, makes it extremely difficult to compete. Add that to poorer quality vehicles with fewer standard safety measures, and you get a US auto industry on the brink of bankruptcy.

I believe there are several solutions to this matter. First and foremost, we need universal, single-payer healthcare. In plain English, we need a system like Canada where taxes pay for every single citizen's healthcare. It's the only way to rail in the ridiculous, skyrocketing cost of healthcare here in the States. Second, we need to make it easier for people to join unions - it should be something everyone is able to do without the threat of job loss. That way, the workers in the South could join their Midwest brethren and fight for a real pension in a union contract instead of a 401(k) plan. People deserve a steady stream of income after retirement - not money tied to the turbulent stock exchange.

More info:
"Asian Carmakers Settle Into the South," by Greg Schneider with contributions by Warren Brown in WaPo

Posted by cj at May 21, 2005 1:41 PM

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