While everyone is pretty mad about Delphi’s bankruptcy tactic, if you step back and take a good look at the situation and the history, they are really in a corner and are desperate. I’m not excusing them closing plants in the U.S. while opening them in third world countries where wages are dirt cheap, or for giving execs raises while trying to pick the pockets of the working man. But let’s not forget who some of the real villains are in this scenario:
FREE TRADE: Yep, the free trade agreements in the past ten years set the stage for this whole mess. We used to be able to protect the U.S. worker by balancing out the cut-rate labor overseas with tariffs and content laws. We let our own government sell us out so that big business can pit the American worker against overseas workers.
GM: General Motors created Delphi so it could do several things. Divide and conquer the unions by working towards separate agreements for assembly plants and component plants. The spin-off made the component plants a separate company setting the stage for that. Lower per unit cost for component parts by demanding the suppliers (former GM plants) reduce their prices under threat of taking the business elsewhere. Many Delphi plants had little business other than GM and GM kept them so busy jumping through their hoops over pricing, quality, just-in-time supply, PR&Rs, QS9000, and on and on, that they couldn’t effectively develop other supplier relationships. GM so tightly controls the purse-strings to Delphi that no other auto manufacturer will trust more than a token order to Delphi.
WALL STREET: The greedy stock market puts so much pressure on big corporations to inflate their value and pay dividends that they are all desperate to produce. They no longer have the leeway to do the right thing or even take the time to consider anything else but the bottom line. Open that joint-venture overseas even if it might be bad for our U.S. businesses? Sorry, no more loyalty to our U.S. workers who got us to where we are. Screw them and keep the stockholders happy.
POLITICIANS: Anyone who is not under a rock has to see our own elected government is as responsible in this as is anyone. Time after time, we see highly connected businesses profit from political connections. Lobbyists have free reign, while the citizens are ignored. Deficits piled up while tax-cuts are lavished on the rich and social programs slashed. It doesn’t matter which party we’re talking about, they’re all just as crooked or incompetent as the next. Wag The Dog has gone from fiction to fact. Multi-national corporations operate above the law and buy politicians so they can. The Supreme Court is being stacked with hand-picked cronies by the crooked politicians the multi-nationals control as we speak.
I’m sorry if I’m starting to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but it isn’t a pretty picture. I’d like to see a rosy side to things, but they really do stink. I’ve worked at Delpi/GM/Harrison for 29 and 1/2 years. And I’ve had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach for the last five or so that the closer I got to retirement, the more likely it would be that they jerk the rug out from under me. Why should things change? They’ve been setting me up to screw all along.
The auto industry has spent the last 100 years building itself into the biggest private industry in the US. It was done largely through the hard work of the american worker. Now they have decided to go global, and that’s fine, but just bacause they can expliot cheap labor in some third-world country, they want to dump the american worker. They expect loyalty when we buy a car, but don’t show it in return.
Free trade is a wonderful theory, but we’re suffering the growing pains as the whole system goes towards equilibrium. Low wages in third-world countries should come up as they benefit from the open trade and new opportunities it offers. But in the meanwhile, we pay for it by being told our wages are too high. It’s okay for U.S. investor to reap the benefits of cheap labor in third-world countries, but not the American worker? Either the companies have to do the right thing and accept the losses in the US in exchange for the big profits overseas, or the government is going to have to step in with some adjustment to the trade imbalance it created with Free Trade treaties.