Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Event: Letter from the UAW.

This email arrived in my Inbox this morning (four days late). I pass it along in the interest of promoting a respondible loan to the Big Three through congress. Please consider writing a short letter. My thoughts and qualifications are here.

Dear Connor Coyne,

Please respond right away to this urgent request by calling your
Senators or Representative through this toll-free number: (877)
331-1223. Or send an e-mail:

The auto industry needs help in Congress right away -- and if we
don't get it, the jobs and benefits of hundreds of thousands of
our active and retired members and millions of other Americans
are at risk.

Next week the House and Senate are expected to vote on
legislation to provide an emergency $25 billion bridge loan to
GM, Ford and Chrysler to help weather the current severe credit
and economic crises. Without this assistance, there is a real
danger that the three companies will run out of cash and be
forced to cease all manufacturing and business operations in the
near future.

The collapse of these companies would be devastating:

-- In addition to the hundreds of thousands of Big Three workers
who would lose their jobs, up to 3 million other workers could
see their jobs disappear at dealers, suppliers of components and
materials, and other businesses that depend on the auto

-- Almost 1 million retirees and their spouses and dependents
could suffer cuts in their pension benefits and the loss of
health insurance coverage.

-- The federal pension guarantee program could be saddled with
enormous liabilities, jeopardizing its ability to protect
benefits for millions of other workers.

-- Because of the importance of the auto industry to our entire
economy, the collapse of the Big Three auto companies would
aggravate the current recession, creating further hardships for
working families and communities across the United States.

-- Revenues to federal, state and local governments would be
sharply reduced, forcing drastic cuts in vital social services
at the time they are most needed.

Congress can prevent these devastating consequences. The federal
government has already stepped forward to provide assistance to
Wall Street and financial institutions. It is now time for
Congress to help Main Street by providing urgently needed help
for the auto companies.

You have probably seen or heard some commentators who are trying
to blame you and your fellow UAW members for the current
situation of the companies by attacking our "overly rich" wages
and benefits. We need to rebut these false charges, and make it
clear that active and retired UAW members have already made
enormous sacrifices in the 2005 and 2007 collective bargaining

Other commentators have tried to blame the Big Three for their
current situation by saying it is attributable to their
insistence on producing "gas guzzling" vehicles. This overlooks
the major progress the companies are making in bringing forward
more fuel efficient vehicles. More importantly, it ignores the
fact that the current crisis is due to the huge drop in overall
auto sales that has been caused by the larger credit and
economic crises that have engulfed our entire nation.

Auto sales in October were a mere 10.8 million on an annualized
basis, the lowest level in 25 years. All automakers reported
steep declines in their sales. The problem is not that consumers
don't want to buy the quality products that GM, Ford and
Chrysler are making. The problem is that consumers have stopped
buying vehicles from any companies.

Please call your Representative and Senators now. Urge them to
vote for legislation to provide an immediate $25 billion bridge
loan to the Big Three auto companies. Tell them this is
essential to prevent the liquidation of these companies and
devastating consequences for millions of workers and retirees
and for our entire economy.

You can use the following toll-free number to call your
Representative and Senators: (877) 331-1223. Or send an e-mail:

The legislation to provide assistance to the auto industry will
likely be taken up by the House and Senate sometime next week.
So please call or e-mail right away!


Visit the web address below to tell your friends about this.

If you received this message from a friend, you can sign up for
UAWire at:

UPDATE: Here is the letter I sent to Jan Schakowsky, Dick Durbin, and Barack Obama.

Dear Senator Durbin and Congresswoman Schakowsky,

I know you're getting a ton of mail on this subject right now, and are well-versed in the pros and cons. I will try to be succinct.

I strongly opposed you both on your support for the Wall Street bailout because I saw it passed with what I saw as a lack of discretion. I registered protest votes due to this (something I haven't done since 1996), because I do think that congress should be penalizing any corporate interest that relies on the taxpayers to save them from bankruptsy. In practice, they are essentially holding the economy ransom to get what they need to continue.

This loan to the auto industry seems more sound to me than the other bailout. It is a much smaller amount (not that billions are anything to sneeze at), and I understand the myriad ways that the automotive industry impacts the American economy at large.

Here's the thing: you shouldn't have to write a blank check in order to help the auto industry. The Big Three have taken some steps in necessary retooling and restructuring; demand that they take more. Eliminate what fluff you can, and pass a bill with stringent requirements. You win with the Big Three for giving them breathing room. You win with the public for representing their interest. And with me, I will both happily and enthusiastically vote for you, because I expect my senators and representatives to fight for me, and I am proud when they do so.

I know that this sort of middle-road and straightforward approach is often taken off the table (and for all the wrong reasons); you cannot help the the environment in which you are debating this issue. But this is a straightforward case, and this is the most reasonable solution.


Connor Coyne

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