The lead headline in “McNewspaper” (USA Today) for May 25 referred to retiree benefits as a “monster.” The article goes on to compile gross statistics on the total amount of retiree benefits compiled by American workers through lifetimes of work and struggle. Instead of blessings to American families, these commitments are branded “burdens”!
What clearer signal could a major capitalist newspaper send? Pensions, health care and Social Security are being painted with a bright blue bull’s-eye and targeted for destruction.
Even though a gigantic outcry prevented the radicals in government from shearing away parts of Social Security during the past year, the butchers are only holding back until the November elections pass. If the same people are running Congress after November, Social Security is sure to be wounded or murdered.
Pensions and health care are already being dismembered. In cases where no union could restrain them, giant corporations ripped them apart. Even unionized workers have felt the sharp blades of capitalism. Bankruptcy judges have cooperated with bloodthirsty corporations to set aside provisions that protected retirees in union contracts.
When the mighty United Auto Workers agreed in December, in mid-contract, to cut the current retirees from Big Three automobile companies, it was clear that no American worker was safe. Those automobile contracts had been the pearl of all American union contracts, particularly for retiree benefits. Never before in its proud history had the UAW agreed to cuts for current retirees!
Hopes for a national health care program are punctured by union concessions and takeaways. Why should corporations want a national health care program when they can get all the savings they want by shredding their contracts and commitments?
American workers’ retirement benefits lie bleeding on the gory killing floors of corporations. USA Today clearly shows capitalism’s intention to finish them off completely. Only the united force of the working class can staunch the blood flow.
Jim Lane (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a labor activist in North Texas.