The Spark

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

Capitalist sharks circle auto parts industry

Nov 21, 2005

Delphi, Visteon and other large auto parts makers claim to be either broke or close to it. But Wall Street doesn’t seem to notice. In early October, the Wall Street Journal reported that Ford had received 65 offers to buy the 17 plants with 17,000 employees that it had taken back from Visteon earlier in the year. Packs of capitalist sharks are literally circling the 500-billion-dollar international auto parts industry, looking to see what they can snap up.

One of the biggest of these sharks is multi-billionaire Wilbur Ross. In October, Ross teamed up with Lear Corporation, one of the largest auto parts makers, to form a joint venture with the aim of buying up many other auto parts makers. They bought up Collins & Aikman, a maker of auto interiors that also claims to be bankrupt. They went on to make overtures to both Ford and Delphi to take some or all of their supposedly “troubled” parts factories off their hands. The fact that Lear has close ties to Ford Motors could even suggest that Ford, or some of its executives, are among those looking to buy up the very factories that their companies had only recently spun off. And what goes for Ford most definitely goes for the other two of the Big Three.

Of course, driving this new sudden interest in auto parts are the enormous concessions that Delphi is trying to impose on its workforce – the demands for 66% cuts in pay along with big cuts in benefits. These concessions are like blood in the water to sharks.

Ross demonstrated how much wealth can be generated from “restructuring” that other “rust belt” industry – steel. Claiming that they were bankrupt, the big steel companies cut a large number of jobs – and dumped the workers’ pension plans. After that, Ross moved in. In 2002 he bought up five steel companies, including such former giants as Bethlehem, LTV and Weirton. Three years later he then resold them for a profit that was ten times what he originally paid for these companies.

In steel, the workers’ huge sacrifices brought enormous profits, a windfall which was immediately pocketed by speculators like Ross. This then encouraged Ross and others to move in on the workers in auto parts.

It is just one big operation aimed at pushing the whole working class into abject poverty for the benefit of a few capitalist sharks.