Today’s Fight Over Auto Wages Is The Wrong Fight

Barry Gander
12 min readSep 17

The industry needs a massive workforce support program.

For the first time in history the auto unions have struck all three American car-makers, and the thrashing around has made the waters murky.

But there is a shark coming in fast and not enough people have noticed it. Its dorsal fin is marked “EV”.

The current dispute centers on plants that produce internal combustion engines (ICE), which are the largest component of the industry thus far. On the management side, owners argue that workers should not get anything more, because they are already getting enough and they do not share the risk. It is held that it is the shareholders — not laborers — who bear the risk of a downside if sales slump.

This is nonsense: the labor force itself will be cut if sales slump, and there is no greater risk to a worker than losing their job.

Shareholders on the other hand will be reimbursed by a society that assures risk for the workers and socialism for the wealthy — i.e. governments will fund the auto companies to ensure their continued prosperity.

But putting money in the hands of people like auto-workers is what keeps the economy going. Billionaires do not create jobs; people spending money or saving money creates jobs. As Chicago punk rock legend Steve Albini said: “Nobody earned a billion dollars. It’s literally impossible to be paid for work and end up with a billion dollars. You get a billion dollars by having other people work for it, then taking it.”

Billionaires control assets, they do not create wealth. They are fortunate enough to find themselves in a position to do asset management. They then hire other people (workers) to do the actual labor with those assets — to farm the land, say, or work the machines in the factories.

Billionaires use their control to invest in whatever is most profitable — regardless of the consequences for health, safety, general social utility, or even the survival of the planet. The people who actually make things — the workers — are left without a say over what they make, how much they make it for, or the conditions they work under.

There are people like Jeff Bezos who are often cited as having worked up from modest…

Barry Gander

A Canadian from Connecticut: 2 strikes against me! I'm a top writer, looking for the Meaning under the headlines. Follow me on Mastodon @Barry