The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Editorial:
A new attempt to take retiree benefits
– Stop this attack dead in its tracks!

Jun 6, 2005

Go ahead and dump your retiree health benefits – the courts will let you. That's what Sanford Bernstein, a Wall Street research firm, recently told GM.

And – wouldn't you know it – a series of articles soon appeared in legal journals, pushing the very same conclusion.

It's no wild coincidence! Wall Street is simply floating a very big trial balloon. The big money men want GM to tear up its retirees' medical plan.

They're already starting. Along with Ford and Chrysler, GM is right now rewriting the terms of medical plans covered in current contracts with the auto workers, reducing coverage, one item at a time, increasing co-payments, one at a time.

But to tear up the whole plan in one blow would be a much bigger attack on a much larger group of workers than anything we've seen up to this point.

And we've certainly seen a lot. A large part of the steel industry declared bankruptcy in order to dump their pension plans into the lap of a government agency – in the process, getting rid of all medical coverage. The airline industry, the auto parts industry, big retailers like Kmart and thousands of small companies all rushed to the courts to follow steel's example. Bankruptcy became the prime mechanism for tearing up promises made to workers over the last 50 years.

But bankruptcy has some inconveniences for the biggest companies like GM and Ford. So some legal hot-shot has now figured out a scheme to let them do what bankruptcy does without going through the trouble of bankruptcy.

It's a scheme put together by the biggest capitalists in the country. It's a declaration of war: they want to take all medical benefits away from GM workers. IF GM is allowed to get away with this, every other company will rush to follow.

So what should the workers' response be? Stop this attack dead in its tracks – that's what!

Easier said than done – that's what some people will say. Of course, that's true. But no matter how hard it is to fight back – it will be harder still if we don't fight.

Hard, you say? No, hard would be if there were no money available to pay for what we need. But there's plenty of money. The wealthy class has been accumulating more and more of it, by stealing everything away from us.

Well, take back some of that wealth!

Think it can't be done, you say? Just look at how quickly George W. Bush began to back-pedal when he saw he couldn't convince us to go along with his plans to destroy Social Security.

Oh yes, he'll be back, trying to come for Social Security in another way. But see what it means that this man with all this power in his hands had to step back. And we hadn't even done anything – other than say NO, we don't agree.

We have more power than we realize. We have the means to back them off all their plans to attack us.

Just saying NO won't stop them – but it does start us going in the right direction!