Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Shock and Resignation

Human interest article on the impact of GM's plant closing on autoworkers and their families, something the NY Times usually excels at: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/22/business/22workers.html

What is jarring is that the reporter visits a plant where two-thirds of the 300 workers have been laid off "temporarliy" earlier this year:

"The automaker slowed production there to a trickle as demand for the vehicle it produces, the $40,000 high-performance Chevrolet SSR pickup truck, failed to keep pace with capacity. Although most employees do not come to work, under their union contract G.M. is still required to pay them."

What this means is that GM, most likely next year, is going to quit paying workers they laid off this year. The Times misses the real story: while the lay offs are devastating to the employees, their families, and their communities, what has changed since the days of "Roger and Me," is not so much that American drivers have quit buying GM cars (a fact fairly unchanged, except downwards, since the late 70s), but rather GM has stretched out laying off and retiring their work force even when facing a possible bankruptcy.

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