Jul 30, 2001
Company after company continues to announce job cuts. Lucent – a 20-billion-dollar-a-year company – is only the most recent. Standing behind Lucent is almost every major corporation in the country.
Very few of them say they intend to cut back on production – but even those companies which are cutting production are cutting jobs at a faster rate.
So what’s up? The economists say that we are not – or not yet, anyway – in a recession where people stop buying goods and paying for services. We are simply in a “profits recession.” The companies have to cut jobs – or so we are told – in order to restore their profitability.
Listen to the sound bites we hear night after night on the evening news: “earnings hit a steep decline”; “profits are plunging.” You would think these big corporations were all bleeding money.
Nothing could be further from the truth. They are simply making a little bit less than they were making during all those years they rolled up stupendous profits. Even with their earnings “trimmed” a little, business made almost one TRILLION dollars in profit last year. General Electric, for example, which announced it would cut 75,000 jobs, made 12.8 billion dollars last year – a record! Even Chrysler, which pictures itself on the verge of bankruptcy, made almost two billion dollars last year. And most of its losses this year are accounted for by “special charges” – that is, book-keeping tricks – DCX took to pay for cutting jobs. (We could ask, if it costs so much money to cut jobs, why cut them?)
These companies are not cutting jobs because they are in trouble – they are cutting jobs in order to resurrect their profit-gusher.
What would it mean, if we were to accept this attack which is right now being launched against us?
Some of us will be in the street. Some will be working for new smaller companies, as our factory or office is sold out from under our feet. All of us will feel the pressure to produce more work in the same amount of time. Another generation of young workers will not be able to find a job – or at least, not one which pays enough to support themselves and their children.
And the bosses will use the threat of job cuts to try to get us to accept wage freezes or cuts and reductions in our benefits.
We may not yet be in a recession, but if the bosses get away with this attack, they may soon drag us into another one.
It’s outrageous that any company making a profit would propose to cut a single job. As for those companies which lose money today – more accurately, pretend to be losing money – let them dip into the big profits they rolled up over the last decade. Our livelihood should not be sacrificed so a small minority of very wealthy people can accumulate billions and trillions of dollars.
If companies worth billions of dollars can’t provide decent jobs and good wages for everyone, then push their owners and executives aside. Take their business over and run it in the interest of society.
The unions could fight for such a plan. No matter how much their numbers have shrunk, they are still an organized force, counting many millions of workers. They could lead a struggle to provide decent jobs for everyone. (And if they did it, their numbers would once again increase.)
Why not? Yes, why not!