Profits, Pensions, and the Return of GM
Today marked the return of automaker GM to public trading on the stock market. All hail the American automakers, returning to profitability in a little over a year after bankruptcy proceedings and billions of government dollars in bailouts, right? Not so fast. Though the stock prices are expected to be high and papers have called it "historic," let's not forget that bailout dollars and profits for shareholders come on the backs of union worker concessions, buyouts, and layoffs. And that's still not enough for some. "If GM has a social purpose beyond generating profits, shareholders will suffer," said Antony Page, quoted in the Wall Street Journal. The same article warned prospective buyers that GM has underfunded its pension fund to the tune of $17 billion—you know, those pesky retirements that all those workers expect to have. Unemployment is still sky-high in the U.S. and bailing out GM kept some people in work, it's true—but with unemployment benefits ready to run out and no job-creation programs in sight under a Republican House, one can expect more pressure on union autoworkers to make even more concessions—all in the name of keeping the company profitable, of course. The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv and editor ofAt The Tea Party, out now from OR Books. GRITtv broadcasts weekdays on DISH Network and DIRECTv, on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter and be our friend on Facebook.