On Eve of Michigan Primary, Workers Remember Romney’s Plan for Autoworkers

As this video shows, 2009 was a time of great uncertainty for Michigan’s autoworkers. It closed out a decade of enormous economic pain for the state – 27 percent of all private sector jobs lost in America since 2000 have been from Michigan. But thanks to decisive action and the restructuring agreements between the government and management, as well as the great sacrifices of unionized auto workers, the American auto industry is once again profitable, and is giving a lift our whole economy.

This is great for 99 Percent of us, but not so great for one man: Mitt Romney. The presidential candidate suggested in a 2008 op-ed that the best way to handle the auto industry would be to “let Detroit go bankrupt.” This wasn’t a small part of the piece: the title of the op-ed was “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”

Let’s look back and see how right Romney was:

If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.

But what about the workers, who depend on their jobs in the auto industry to pay for groceries and support their families? Romney refers to them here:

A managed bankruptcy may be the only path to the fundamental restructuring the industry needs. It would permit the companies to shed excess labor, pension and real estate costs.

He closed out with:

In a managed bankruptcy, the federal government would propel newly competitive and viable automakers, rather than seal their fate with a bailout check.

Look, no one is saying that Romney should have been able to predict the future. But what comes across so clearly in this op-ed is Romney’s callousness and disregard for the workers who would be most affected by the industry’s fate.

We’ve come to expect a level of enmity towards union workers from Republican candidates – it’s no surprise given their corporate sponsors – but in this case it’s extra offensive. One of the key reasons the auto industry survived was the givebacks and sacrifices made by UAW workers: freezing wages, waiving the right to strike for six years, reduced pay and benefits for new hires, and more.

It’s very unlucky now for Mitt Romney that his presidential campaign rests on the votes of those same Michigan workers who are now receiving paychecks thanks to the sacrifices they made in 2009 and 2010, the “excess labor” Romney wanted to “shed.” I wonder if he’ll refer to them as “excess labor” when he is pleading for their votes over the next two days.

Photo from UAW-GM on Facebook.

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