Workers matter to Obama. Union workers, that is…

Posted by: Phineas on March 7, 2011 at 1:31 pm

**Posted by Phineas

And if you’re not in a union? Then you can expect a kick in the backside, instead of a pat on the back. It seems that while reorganizing General Motors, Treasury Secretary (and tax cheat) Timothy Geithner protected the benefits and pensions of union workers while gutting those of non-union employees:

Republican Reps. Mike Turner of Ohio and Dan Burton of Indiana are asking House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, California Republican, to dig into the Obama administration’s decision to cut more than 20,000 private-sector workers’ pensions and eliminate their health and life insurance plans during the General Motors (GM) bailout in 2009.

A spokesman for Issa’s committee told The Daily Caller the committee “remains interested” and is “looking forward” to findings from an ongoing Government Accountability Office investigation, which is expected to come out within the next couple of months. What Turner and Burton are saying happened during the GM bailout is that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner decided to cut pensions for salaried non-union employees at Delphi, a GM spinoff, to expedite GM’s emergence from bankruptcy. The problem with that, according to the congressmen, is that Geithner decided to fully fund the pensions of union workers involved in the process – including workers associated with United Auto Workers, Steelworkers and the IUE-CWA.

“This is a terrible injustice. This is a political decision, not a legal or financial decision,” Turner said in a phone interview with TheDC. “There were people who were penalized and people were chosen as winners and losers. The White House, the administration and the Auto Task Force (ATF) decided who were going to receive their pensions and who were not.”

Bear in mind that this wasn’t some sharing of the burden, no spreading the pain around (rather than the wealth). The Delphi employees saw their pensions savaged while union workers had theirs made whole — at taxpayer expense.

Further on in the article, it becomes clear that the complaint of the Delphi employees (at least those interviewed) is that they didn’t share in the largesse. While I can sympathize, to have bailed them out, too, would have been wrong. What should have happened is a GM bankruptcy that would have cleared existing contracts and brought in new management to try to restore the company to health. Yes, it would have been more painful short-term for everyone, but much better for the regional and the American economies in the long run than the current zombie corporation, which exists only as an appendage of the government.

(Oh, and bondholders wouldn’t have been strong-armed out of their rights, either.)

That said, this picking of winners and losers is another illustration of who the administration thinks its real constituents are.

Just look for the union label.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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2 Responses to “Workers matter to Obama. Union workers, that is…”

Comments

  1. Neo says:

    The deficit for February is in. The deficit for the month is larger than any of Bush’s annual deficits ($223B vs $161B).
    To run around making statements like …

    “We need a government that lives within its means.” — Barack Obama

    … the guy has to have fiscal “tiger’s blood”

  2. Carlos says:

    Why the surprise, Phineas? When one’s beginning point is waaaay off kilter, why not expect everything else in the process to be out of bounds, too?

    The government (at least those who think they are the government, like Obhammud and Geithner) had no business or authority to bail out ANY business, least of all Government Motors and Chrysler Motors.

    And that’s where picking the winners and losers of all this garbage started, not with which employees got or didn’t get what.

    I wouldn’t touch a new GM or Chrysler with a two-mile pole. Their ownership is garbage, and their workers are no better than rank and file government welfare workers.

    And oh, BTW, when are they gonna pay back their bailouts with interest? Curious minds want to know.