Jun 24, 2013
Four years into business’s latest “recovery,” unemployment hasn’t budged. Proportionately, fewer of us are working today than in the depths of the “recession.” The people who have a job make up the smallest share of the adult population since the very middle of the 1980 super-recession.
If you want to know why, just look at the U.S. auto industry. Auto production is recovering. The three domestic companies and the foreign companies that produce cars here are on track to produce 16 million vehicles in North America, with nearly two million of them exported overseas, a near record year. Sixteen million vehicles – that’s almost double the 9.2 million vehicles that the industry produced in 2009, following the crash of the economy.
Does that mean that closed-down plants are re-opening? Not at all. Not a one of them. Instead, the auto companies are squeezing more production out of the exact same number of plants they were running in 2009. A Ford vice-president said, “We’re going to run more and more hours,” including by cutting vacation-shutdown time in half, and running extra shifts. In some cases, the auto companies have gotten four shifts, each working 40 hours a week out of one plant. If they could figure how to slide five shifts into a 168-hour week, they’d do that too.
No, they are not reinvesting in production. And they’re proud of it!
Chrysler’s Sergio Marchione boasts, “We will never build bricks and mortar again. I think we need to use what we’ve got and take it to the wall, run more shifts, run overtime.”
“Take it to the wall!” That’s what the bosses have done to the workforce. The same old workers plus a few extra are putting out a vast increase in production. We are working faster. And we are working longer. We are forced to sacrifice our weekends. And our vacations.
As the older workers retire, get sick or die, the bosses bring in new workers. With two and three tier, the new workers are paid less than half the wage and get little or no benefits.
The auto bosses are the model for the rest of the economy. Manufacturing, which bottomed out with just about eight million workers in 2009, has added less than 400,000 workers since – a measly 5% increase in the number of workers, even though total output was up by 16%.
Business’s formula for “success” is this: fewer workers, at lower wages. The bosses have driven the total wages of the workforce lower than it’s ever been, when compared to total output.
Profits are hitting all time highs! Dividends paid out to rich stockholders are skyrocketing! In their wildest imagining, the very, very wealthy could not have dreamed of a better recovery – for them!
What a great recovery. Break out the champagne!
But there is no recovery for those of us who do the work, not for the population as a whole. We are bleeding jobs, incomes, everything. Everything good and decent in our lives is being ground up in the name of higher profits and greater wealth for the capitalist class.
Where will it all lead? The massive amount of profit wrenched out of our labor is being shifted into the financial sphere – where the capitalists can find nothing better to do with it than speculate. A new crash, a new bubble bursting is lurking in the future they prepare.
Why wait? Take them to the wall – those scum who have destroyed our future!
Over 100 years ago, the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) laid bare the road the working class must take, a road even more relevant today: “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people, and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life. Between these two classes, a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the earth.”