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The KPFA/KPFK/Pacifica NPR Evening News

by Hymie Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010 at 3:49 AM

One segment on the Tuesday broadcast demonstrates the ongoing disconnect between the news staff and some station staffers and the political and economic reality that Obama has brought us and make many ask why contribute to a second NPR.


The attached mp3 clip presents the short program segment about Obama's speech at a Chrysler plant in Kokomo, Indiana. It sounds like another routine Presidential speech stating optimism.

USA Today quoted the president, "Obama told a crowd of Chrysler employees, "What's happening here at this plant, the changes we're seeing throughout Kokomo, are signs of hope and confidence in the future, in our future together. You're showing us the way forward."

Obama: 'We're coming back! We're on the move!'


On its face, all this and the news segment sound benign and innocuous.

In 2009, the World Socialist Website summarized the new Chrysler-UAW contract:

"Everything workers have traditionally associated with a trade union--the right to strike, higher wages and benefits than non-union workers, shop floor protections, a chance to retire with a secure pension and health care benefits--has been jettisoned."

"There will no longer be even the pretense of collective bargaining and contract guarantees. Instead, according to the contract summary, wage and benefit rates `will be based on Chrysler maintaining an all-in hourly labor cost comparable to its US competitors, including transplant automotive manufacturers."

"In other words, UAW workers will be paid the same or less than non-union workers at the Japanese-owned factories in Mississippi, Alabama and other southern states--with one difference: They will still have to pay dues to the UAW."

"Under the terms of the agreement, time-and-a-half pay for working more than eight hours or on weekends will be eliminated, with overtime calculated instead on a weekly basis, i.e., for hours worked over 40."

"Break time will be reduced from 46 to 40 minutes each day."

"Cost of living allowances -- won after the 67-day strike by GM workers in 1970 -- will be eliminated, along with performance and Christmas bonuses.

"Skilled trades will be consolidated into two classifications."

"The two-day Easter holiday will be eliminated."

"The UAW's collaboration in offering up the next generation of auto workers as a source of cheap labor, without the slightest job security, continues. The agreement will extend the use of temporary part-time employees and the hiring of so-called `entry-level employees' who are paid half the wages of older workers and receive few benefits and no employer-paid pensions."


A later article, "Workers denounce UAW concessions," stated:

"The whole process, from contract announcement, vote, bankruptcy filing, to plant closure took less than four days. Several Chrysler workers said the process appeared to be a stage-managed plan by the UAW, Chrysler, and the Obama Administration."

"Major concessions in the new contract include an immediate cut in retiree health care; the elimination of cost of living adjustments (COLA) and supplemental unemployment benefits; limits on vacation time, and the expansion of part-time and temporary labor."

"Contract betrayal will give UAW majority ownership in Chrysler"


Under the new contract, starting wages for new workers plunged from $28 per hour to $14 per hour, with no benefits.

"$28 per hour to $14 -- Now that's deflation"


Obama was celebrating, as the "way forward", the destruction of seventy years of advances of workers and the good lives of them and their families dating back to the Flint strikes. He was celebrating nothing less than the successful class warfare that his Administration has waged against working people for the Wall Street economic ruling class and that defines the fundamental political struggle of our time.

While a segment of the KPFA/KPFK/Pacifica community may remain stuck in sixties identity politics and view workers in auto plants as not a protected group, thirty years of stagnant and falling wages has taught much if not most of the community that economic recovery will not come from workers making $14 per hour and economic warfare against the middle class is not the "way forward" American should go.

About this the KPFA news staff uncritically reports the speech and can't find a single source to comment and speak up for the interests of working people.

For the wsws.org analysis of the speech, see http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/nov2010/koko-n24.shtml
We should be hearing this on KPFK/KPFA/Pacifica.
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