Is Bush Turning Communist?
Retired member, AFSCME Local 444
Moneylenders have agreed to help U.S. Airlines stay in business by offering to extend their loan agreements to January 2005 but under certain conditions, the most important being that the Airline "persuade" a bankruptcy judge to impose pay and benefit cuts of $38 million a month on the airlines' Unionized workforce.
The cuts, which amount to 23% pay reductions and "cuts in pension payments and other savings" according to the Wall Street Journal, are necessary for the Airline to stay in business Airline spokespersons argue. The Airline wants the Judge to impose the cuts until March 2005 or "until the company and the Union can reach agreement to new concessions or the Judge lets U.S. Airways abrogate labor contracts and impose new terms." (WSJ 10-12-04).
U.S. Airline Executives are feeling pretty confident, as Union leaders have no objection to concessions in general, just how deep they should be. The normal strategy offered up by Union officials in these instances is to sacrifice the wages and benefits of future hires much more as they can't vote. The onus is on keeping the dues money flowing; revenue is crucial to any successful business after all..
Given Union leaders' dismal record when it comes to defending their members standard of living (they gave up advancing it a long time ago) things do not look good for our brothers and sisters in the airline industry. But there is a bright star on the horizon.
Is George Bush Turning Communist?
During the debate the other night in Ohio, George Bush, talking about health care, said that he wants us to have" a plan that you own". The Wall Street Journal in its editorial of October 12th championed this approach convinced that "ownership has the potential to tame health spending in its wake." George Bush and the WSJ are not known as supporters of public ownership. Yet neither George nor the paper has attacked U.S. Airlines for its communist leanings, asking the state to intervene and impose terms between employers and workers. Now George wants to put "people in charge of their own health care" says the Journal editorial.
This is a major shift to the left for the President. It is an opportunity for us to, not only own our own health plan by taking medical research and all aspects of the medical business out of the hands of corrupt capitalists, but we can own airlines too. In fact, we can own all the means of transportation.
It has been reported that Union leaders have strengthened their support for Kerry as, unlike the schizophrenic George Bush, they have faith in the market and want to keep transportation, health care, and all important industries out of the control of lazy and inept working people, and Kerry's views, albeit a bit too far to the left for most Union officials, do not go as far as Bush in calling for ownership of anything that doesn't involve Donald Trump and Wall Street. Union officials are scheduled to face the Bankruptcy judge in the Airlines case and, according to some sources, are willing to outdo the employers in offering concessions.
Will Bush's communist views hurt friendships?
Bush's leftward lurch might not win him friends in the business community if it continues. Many executives who face the possibility of returning bonuses they didn't earn are worried about their paychecks. Twenty-two of Fannie May's top executives collected $22 million in 2002, much of it in bonuses, and the company has been accused of "manipulating expenses to ensure executive bonuses" (Business Week 10-18-04)
It seems this practice of manipulating expense and profit earnings to ensure bonuses for top execs is widespread. Computer Associates International (CA) has claimed earnings of more than $3.3 billion that was wrongly booked according to the SEC and paid bonuses of more than $1 billion to just three executives in the process.
Some CA investors are so upset that they are being ripped off like ordinary workers that at last summer's annual meeting, they introduced a resolution aimed at retrieving some of the executive pay from these bonuses that are based on trumped up revenue, but the resolution was defeated by a three to one margin. If people like the President of the United States keeps talking about people owning health plans and the like, it will be much harder to keep these bonuses and workers will start calling it theft as opposed to "accounting errors".
For those executives reading this report it should be made clear that there is an ongoing attempt to clarify the meaning of George Bush's comments and the intent of the government's purpose in intervening in labor disputes. Respected news organizations like Fox are claiming that Bush was referring to "individual" ownership of health plans offered by "private" entrepreneurs and not collective ownership of the medical and pharmaceutical industries as has been implied. And Bush himself has hinted that representatives of government will only intervene in labor disputes in order to drive wages and conditions down and keep profits up, not the opposite.
Workers' leaders have responded favorably to this as actual control of the productive forces of society would inevitably lead to workers control of Unions. They are also hoping that big capitalist institutions wiill stop reporting on the excesses in CEO pay and corruption amounting to billions of dollars when they are telling their members to take pay cuts. "It makes us look bad", says Seymour Cash, President of the Association of retired International Presidents from his home in the Cayman Islands.