Obama administration gives African autoworkers the shaft

Bailouts totaling $13.5 trillion dollars of taxpayer’s money have been pledged by the government to rescue banks, bankers and CEOs.

Meanwhile, Obama administration policies are stripping African autoworkers of the basic necessities of life.

Jobs, homes and pensions are being decimated, making it clear that organizing for black power through African Revolution is the only solution for the African working class.

U.S. president Barack Obama was praised by some for his supposed “hardball” stand with the auto industry when he forced General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner to resign in March.

As GM teetered near bankruptcy it sought another $16 billion in government loans following the $13.4 billion bailout to the automakers several months ago.

By refusing this request and firing the CEO, Obama was said to be “talking tough” to industry bigwigs.

But let’s look at the real picture and what it means for millions of African workers who are employed by or dependent on salaries and pensions from Detroit’s big four.

GM’s restructuring plan called for 50,000 more job cuts and a 20 percent pay cut for those who stayed.

Though Obama rejected this plan, the likelihood is that GM will be allowed to go bankrupt.

While Wagoner was pushed to resign from GM by the Obama administration, the CEO was allowed to keep his $20.2 million dollar retirement package, just like the bankers on Wall Street kept their multi-million-dollar bonuses and “golden parachutes.”

But what will happen to the 62,400 GM employees in the US and its 670,000 pension plan participants if the company goes under, as many predict?

The impact of a collapse of General Motors is made more severe by the fact that the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC), which backs up pension funds when they fail, is broke.

PBGC lost the majority of its money in the stock market crash last September.

Dire conditions for African workers in Detroit

In the current economic crisis, the impending fall of the big four U.S. automakers will be especially devastating to African communities whose incomes are tied to the industry.

African workers make up 14.2 percent of all workers in the auto industry, the largest grouping of African employees in any U.S. domestic industry.

Between 1979 and 2007, while auto industry executives were making multi-million dollar salaries and benefits, African people were losing more than 120,000 auto jobs. Since December 2007, another 20,000 Africans have faced job cuts in the industry.

Once a vibrant center of African culture, enterprise and relative prosperity, Detroit today is a city in ruins.

Today, Detroit, the dying capital of the U.S. auto industry, reflects the decline of parasitic capitalism itself.

Detroit’s empty downtown is dotted with decaying buildings and abandoned skyscrapers, surrounded by whole neighborhoods of stripped, empty, boarded up houses that have gone into foreclosure in the past few years.

Ever since the “Great Migration” of the 1920s when African people left the U.S. South by the millions, heading North for factory jobs, Detroit’s auto industry, with its thousands of spin-off jobs, has been key to some economic stability for generations of African workers.

African people make up 83 percent of Detroit’s 900,000 residents.

African unemployment in Detroit is 50 percent. Thirty-three percent of the population lives in deep poverty — subsisting on less than $22,000 per year for a family of four.

The median home value in the city is only $7000, and about 83,000 homes are currently in foreclosure in Wayne County where Detroit is located.

Police containment of African people in Detroit is brutal. Detroit police murdered 57 people between 1997 and 2004, the highest number of police killings in any U.S. city during that time period, according to the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality.

In some neighborhoods, one in 16 adults and one in seven adult males is either in prison or “under supervision” by the state.

On April 9, the Detroit mayor announced that the city will close 23 public schools this year, followed by 30 or 40 additional school closings in 2010.

Meanwhile for the big Wall Street banks, taxpayers are footing the bill for salaries, bonuses, pensions, mansions and summer homes for the bankers.

The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation is supposed to insure the pensions of workers in the face of corporate bankruptcy.

But even in the best-case scenario PBGC only pays a percentage of a worker’s pension, an amount determined arbitrarily by the PBGC.

On March 30 The Boston Globe reported that the PBGC had lost billions of dollars.

In 2008, the guarantee corporation had withdrawn all the pension money from relatively safe investments in U.S. treasury bonds.

PBGC then put the money into risky speculative stock market investments just before the stock market crashed in September and treasuries rallied.

In the Globe article, “Pension insurer shifted to stocks; Concern increases as losses mount; Failing plans could overwhelm agency,” economists express alarm over the ability of PBGC to continue to pay their current obligations to 1.3 million people, not to mention the 44 million others whose plans are backed by the agency.

The article quotes an economics professor as saying, “The truth is this could be huge…This has the potential to be another several hundred billion dollars. If the auto companies go under, they have huge unfunded liabilities in pension plans that would be passed on to the agency.”

African workers struggle for Black Power

So it is clear that parasitic capitalism, with the neocolonialist Obama at its helm, has no problem giving the shaft to African workers who made the U.S. auto industry rich for the past 70 years.

This country was built on enslaved African labor and is maintained on the theft of resources stolen from Africa and other oppressed peoples.

The “American dream” and capitalism itself were created at African expense for the benefit of the capitalist ruling class and white population sitting on the backs of African people.

Africans comprise a colony inside U.S. borders forced to live at the whim of the capitalist profit motive. When white power no longer needs African workers Africans are tossed aside.

The only way out of this nightmare is the strategy of the African People’s Socialist Party to build the African Socialist International (www.asiuhuru.org).

African people from around the world are coming together under the leadership of the African working class to reunite and liberate Africa for the benefit of the people.

When resource-rich Africa is reunited and liberated and in the hands of African workers, Africa will be the most powerful economy on the planet. No African anywhere on the planet will be able to be subjected to the brutal domination of white power.

Parasitic Capitalism Must Go!
Build the African Socialist International!


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