By Julia Conley
Common Dreams (11/26/18)
Tax justice and labor advocates were among those who expressed outrage Monday at the news that General Motors—one of the corporate giants that benefited immensely from the Republican tax plan last year—would cut 15 percent of its workforce, shuttering production facilities in three states as well as Canada to trim costs.
The auto maker is closing five plants in Ohio, Michigan, Maryland, and Ontario, with plans to cut thousands of office jobs in January—slashing a total of 14,700 jobs.
The move comes less than a year after the Republican Party pushed through its tax plan, which offered $514 million tax break to the company. According to the advocacy group Not One Penny, $100 million of those savings went to enriching GM’s shareholders, contrary to the GOP’s claims that corporate benefits of the tax cuts would trickle down to workers in the form of raises and bonuses.
“General Motors’ decision to gut its workforce epitomizes the bad corporate behavior Republicans in Congress have incentivized for generations. Instead of using its massive tax savings to increase employee wages or invest in its workforce, GM is shuttering plants and cutting jobs to increase profits and further enrich shareholders,” said Ryan Thomas, a spokesperson for Not One Penny. “The American people will not forget that Republicans in Congress permitted these morally reprehensible and irresponsible actions.”
Meanwhile, GM has already spent much of the last year cutting its workforce, offering buyouts to 18,000 workers.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) called GM’s decision “corporate greed at its worst.”
“The workers at Lordstown are the best at what they do, and it’s clear once again that GM doesn’t respect them,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) wrote on Twitter, referring to the plant that would be closing in his home state. “Ohio taxpayers rescued GM, and it’s shameful that the company is now abandoning the Mahoning Valley and laying off workers right before the holidays.”
President Donald Trump’s steel tariffs have contributed to rising costs facing GM, as domestic steel has grown more expensive—but critics suggested that the company’s huge profits and financial assistance from the government over the past several years should have left GM capable of keeping its workforce intact.
In addition to the financial windfall it enjoyed thanks to the GOP tax plan, GM has been given a total of $50 billion in government funds over the past decade as the U.S. sought to bail the company out.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) union slammed GM for moving production of some of its top-selling vehicles to China and Mexico while putting Americans out of work.
“We must step away from the anti-worker thinking of seeking simply the lowest labor cost on the planet,” UAW President Gary Jones said. “The practice of circumventing American labor in favor of moving production to nations that tolerate wages less than half of what our American brothers and sisters make, must stop. More importantly, we must understand that these companies, including GM, are no longer in trouble. They are recording annual profits in the tens of billions.”
The company earned $6 billion in the first three quarters of 2018, according to Not One Penny, while CEO Mary Barra received $22 million in compensation last year—nearly 300 times the average salary of GM’s employees.
Former Michigan gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed pointed to the news of the impending layoffs as further evidence that the U.S. should look far beyond corporations to create sustainable jobs that won’t be subject to the whims of high-earning CEOs and shareholders.
(This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.)
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2018. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )
On Contact: The Deindustrialization Of America & Detroit With Charlie LeDuff
On Contact With Chris Hedges (2/12/18)
Charlie LeDuff, Author of “Detroit: An American Autopsy,” discusses the deindustrialization of America, specifically Detroit, through systemic kleptocracy.