Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Blackhawk [Workers] Down


Many thanks to Thersites for the opportunity to come over here and and wreck your perfectly nice blog. Even though Thersites and I came up through the left blogsphere farm team system, otherwise known as the comments section at Eschaton, fisking the trolls and generally having a good time, I understand that this is a respectable blog, so I will try to watch my fucking language.

I'd like to begin posting here with an example of how I see the problem of the Vichy Dem.'s I think it's misleading to see the difference between us and the Vichy Dem.'s as one of ideology. Sure there might be some support for Voodoo Economics over at the DLC. They're probably all wearing black socks, too, for all I know. Who cares? No, I think it's more instructive to conceive of our differences in terms of access. Politics isn't the only place that this crops up. Corporate culture is the antithesis of a democratic culture. I say this to preface an issue that could all too easily be framed in terms of left -vs- phony left, aka the right.

It's not.

Via Norwegianity, I found this article by David Sirota. "Ask yourself," writes the eternal Norwegian, "why Joe Lieberman, Chris Dodd, Nancy Johnson and Chris Shays all support Sikorski's efforts to break a union."

I'll let Sirota explain it to you, 'cause I'd use too many goddamned four-letter words:

The Connecticut Post reports that despite swimming in taxpayer-funded profits, the company is proposing massive cuts to 3,600 workers' health care benefits. Under the plan, the Connecticut Post reports, "A Sikorsky employee with an individual health-care plan would pay a total of $1,009 more, while employees with coverage for themselves and their family members would pay an additional $3,528 over the life of the contract."

In response, the 3,600 workers opted to go on strike - but even then, the union offered concessions to end the strike. For instance, weeks ago the New Haven Register reported that "Teamsters Local 1150 offered to have union members pay 20 percent of the cost of health care and sign a four-year contract, rather than a three-year pact, both major concessions." That offer was rejected. Similarly, the Connecticut Post reported that "The Teamsters propose giving back part of the 3.5 percent pay raise over each of the next three years and forgoing a $2,000 signing bonus per employee." Again, that was rejected by company management focused on crushing workers and expanding already massive profits.

Instead, the company has hired temporary replacement workers, ignoring the fact that the workers who assemble the Blackhawk helicopters are among the most specialized manufacturing workers in the nation. Their skills are not easily picked up, begging the question: do we want our soldiers in Iraq flying around in Blackhawk helicopters made with replacement workers? Apparently, Sikorsky does, as the company is now considering making the replacement workers permanent workers, and sinking to the age old ploy of threatening to shut down its Connecticut operations.

Sadly, Connecticut's congressional delegation is refusing to take sides in the affair. Despite the fact that many of them carry a lot of weight in terms of government contracting and could use that weight to put pressure on Sikorsky, these lawmakers have issued a letter that simply asks for both parties to "come back to the negotiating table." Of course, the two parties should do that, and the lawmakers are clearly worried that the company is going to leave the state. However, the fact that the congressional delegation refuses to take sides in a dispute where a massively profitable, taxpayer-funded company is trying to crush workers shows just how pathetically out of touch our government really is.

Now, you see (through that red haze in front of your eyes), I really don't think that anyone say down and said to themselves, "hmmmm. Lessee here. Labor is left, and I'm on the right, so if they want X then I should push for not-X."

Ideology is just a schematic.

No, instead Sikorsky's gotten fat on government contracts. You keep those contracts by paying off politicians. This is that funny kind of money that's called "speech," except you and I apparently never handle bills that big, so I don't know whose picture is on that one.

But wait, I haven't closed the loop yet. They pay for those contracts because that's what makes them rich. This is American capitalism, the American school of capitalism being to capitalism what the American school of anthropology was to anthropology, I guess.

So, why should they share any of this money with the people who actually make the thing. They didn't buy themselves a pet politician like Lieberman. The union didn't give Lieberman a legal bribe. Why should they get any of the money? This is a closed loop between those who pay the politicians and those who can legally give away our tax dollars. Sikorsky has been giving money to Lieberman since 1996. Those other guys, the workers? All they ever do is take money from Sikorsky. You know: in their paychecks. The few votes they could offer Lieberman are insignification compared to what corporate cash buys the candidate.

Ideology has nothing to do with it.

1 comment:

lucretia said...

The DLC is copying what they think is a winning GOP ideology: Be hawikish bigtime, go for 'middle class' meaning upscale professionals only and of course higher (we'll prostitute ourselves for anyone), keep labor down more and more because of course these lazy asses hold back the profits of the righteous, and most of all do all this in support of the oligarchy--the grateful big corporations who control most all federal elected officials thus pulling the strings.

Please don't kid around here--say it accurately for a change.

Ideology is cheap--the GOP and the DLC use it to keep people in line and confuse them they're doing something good, when actually in their subconscious they KNOW they're doing it for their pocketbooks.

Power is involved, but that is only for a few and those who aspire.