At this time of year, do the Republicans really want to play Scrooge with the nation’s beleaguered autoworkers? Even President Bush — still the top Republican — sees the need to keep the U.S. auto industry alive and has been working for a compromise.
But a bevy of Republican senators from the South are trying to break up what the United Automobile Workers have struggled since the 1930s to achieve — a middle-class life for union members.
It’s no coincidence that many of the Senate Republicans in the lead on this issue — Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. — represent states benefiting from Japanese and German automobile plants that employ nonunion labor.
My family moved from Winchester, Ky., in 1924 to Detroit when my uncles reported the Ford factories were paying its workers a munificent $5 a day. My father never went on the assembly line but ran a small grocery store on the East Side of the motor city that served those who worked in the car plants.
The blue-collar auto workers led the way for other workers throughout the country and blazed a trail for labor in all industries to win decent wages and bargaining rights.
What would we be without the industry that has given so much to America?
Apparently the Republican senators have no problem hurling us backward to the early part of the Great Depression when then-President Herbert Hoover failed to rise to the challenge posed by the stock market crash of 1929 and unemployment levels soaring to 25 percent.
It was then that Republicans earned a reputation as the political party impervious to the impact of hard times on the American people.
Earlier this month, Republican senators — led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — were able to scuttle a $14 billion bailout for General Motors and Chrysler.
The fact that the Democrat party couldn’t lead enough people in Congress to get the $14 billion bailout passed went unmentioned. Why does she have a front row seat again?