Apr 15, 2019
In February, when Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced the planned creation of nearly 6,500 new jobs in Michigan, the media and politicians cheered. But even if new jobs are created, it would still do little to nothing to address the problems of unemployment. In the Detroit metro area, at least 80,000 people cannot find any work, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. For the working class, more jobs – at decent pay – are a necessity. What is being announced here, is not that.
“New job creation” is essentially a technical term that helps FCA qualify for a new kind of tax break in Michigan. The Good Jobs program, created in 2017 by Governor Snyder and the Republican-led legislature, allows corporations to keep a portion of state income taxes they withhold from new hires’ paychecks.
As part of the “new jobs” announcement, CEO Mike Manley said FCA will convert its Detroit Mack Avenue factory into an assembly plant for a new Jeep product and it will also add production at 4 other factories in the Detroit metro area. FCA explained they expect to get government help with acquiring land, as well as tax breaks and grants. FCA said it expects help from the State of Michigan as well as the cities of Detroit, Sterling Heights, Warren and Dundee.
Regarding that “help,” in a reassuring tone, acting as if nothing shady is going on, current Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said that FCA tax incentives will remain a secret until after they are approved.
The same day FCA announced 6,500 “new jobs” in Michigan, FCA told workers in Illinois that a whole shift of Jeep production workers will be laid off – 1,371 workers – at its Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois.
And a month later, on March 28, in a further attack on workers’ lives, FCA announced it is cutting a shift at its assembly plant in Windsor in Canada, just 12 miles from the Mack Avenue plant in Detroit.
To better examine FCA’s job creation claims, a Wall Street Journal article offers insight. A detailed study of Michigan tax breaks and grants given to corporations between 1995 and 2009 uncovers a huge difference between jobs promised and jobs delivered. For every 100 jobs promised in Michigan, only 29 jobs were created! That means that if FCA delivers the average, it will be only 1,885 jobs!
But look at the bigger picture. For the working class as a whole, FCA creating new jobs is an illusion. FCA will cut 2,871 jobs in Illinois and Canada. IF FCA adds 1,885 jobs in Michigan, the workers would still suffer a net loss.
Whether FCA delivers on its promise or not, the actual number is like nothing compared to the area’s need for jobs. And no one is pointing out that these jobs will mostly be lower-tier jobs, around $17 an hour with few benefits.
In Canada, in the U.S., and in Mexico, companies like FCA exploit the workers and try to pit one group against another. FCA made 8 billion dollars in profit in 2018. As an international company, their sole purpose is to boost profits any place in the world.