Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Buy American what?

This month's issue of Labor Notes carries a letter to the editor from Detroit's UAW Local 235 member Diane Feeley criticizing a rally she recently attended with the theme "Buy America," presumably supposed to be a clever take on the old slogan, "Buy American," which Feeney says she also never supported. "...and I certainly don't consider GM, Ford, Chrysler, or American Axle as 'American' companies." Good for her. The last Ford I owned was assembled from parts manufactured in about a dozen different countries, and more importantly most of the countries of origin had abysmal labor records - like Mexico*.

Feeney's letter appears under the headline, "'Buy America' won't solve economic crisis," which is as close to the jist of her letter as you could hope for in one line, I guess. But here's the part I liked best: "If the government is going to help out the Big 3 with our money, it should do it by making them develop fuel-efficient cars and mass transit. We could retool plants and produce green technologies - such as light rail, wind turbines, and solar panels."

So, there you have it, right from a UAW member: a Social Monetary Fund by any other name...

(*The history of Mexican auto workers' unions is complex. Basically, they've fought long and hard, and they deserve a lot more support than the UAW has given them. For now, I'll leave it at this: atthe time the car in question was made, Mexican auto workers offered to turn down jobs being shipped there from the US if the UAW would support their own efforts. The UAW refused. More on that another time.)

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