Union ally revs support for aid to auto industry
Media portrayal of unions has been overwhelmingly biased and misinformed. United Auto Workers has been demonized for garnering health care and retirement benefits for its members – something that should be provided to all workers.
The union has taken disproportionate criticism.
The $73-per-hour figure being tossed around is off-base: It co-opts salary, pensions, health care benefits (present and future) and retirement funds.
UAW members’ salaries are comparable to workers at foreign plants, and their extra union training makes them a skilled presence.
The vilification of unions during this fiasco has become a convenient distraction to the serious need for financial support for GM and Chrysler.
Let us not forget the ruinous example set by United Airlines in 2005 when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Through “restructuring” plans, the air-travel giant cut benefits and pensions to thousands of tenured workers and retirees.
The same situation likely will occur on an unprecedented scale if General Motors is allowed to go under, devastating millions of families and sending shockwaves through our weakened economy.
Congressional representatives can stomach a $700 billion bailout for the folks who got us into this mess but not provide a fraction of this (in a loan to be paid back) for millions of American workers who depend on the auto industry.
AIG alone has received upwards of $100 billion, and the public hardly flinched when reports of lavish vacation and hunting excursions emerged.
UAW has made plenty of concessions. Instead of pointing fingers and searching for scapegoats, leadership needs to swiftly pre-empt failure of the auto industry and further devastation to our economy.
chairwoman, Pima Area Labor Federation/AFL-CIO
president, Communication Workers of America Local 7000
Think outside the flocks: Media can’t be sheepish
During the troubled Bush years, we have seen much adversity, leaving Americans hungry for the fresh start President-elect Obama is offering.
We’ve also seen how the news media can flat out fail its audience. A byproduct of post-9/11 patriotism was the mainstream media’s failure to rightfully question the Bush administration.
The consequences of this narrow, goverment-obedient reporting were severe. I cringe when I recall a study by the University of Maryland that found 57 percent of mainstream media viewers believed Iraq was either directly involved in the 9/11 attacks or gave al-Qaida substantial support – both false.
Early in the Iraq war, people were fooled into thinking the unprecedented access given to embedded reporters was providing us an accurate depiction of the war. But those reports did not offer an Iraqi or civilian perspective.
Americans witnessed the hostile backlash at the Dixie Chicks after they criticized the president, but I’d like to know where the outrage was when the government invaded cable newsrooms with message-force multipliers.
Bush’s approval has sunk like the Titanic, and we are about to begin a new era with a tremendously admired president-elect. Let’s hope the media have learned from their mistakes.
We need citizens and leaders to be united by common goals. What we can’t afford are journalists who passively conform to the popular sentiment of the moment.