Corporate Greed Vs. TWU

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The MTA insinuates that the pension benefits are causing them cash shortfall problems. Excuse me if I am confused. Is this the same MTA who were in agreement on the sale of the West Side property to the Jets, even though the deal was much less that the offer made by the Madison Square GardenCablevision crew? If they are having money woes why were they so willing to sell to the lowest bidder? But many of us know what is really at work here: and that is the war of attrition being waged by corporations against the working class. Across America the insidious tactics of rapacious corporations can be seen in the mass layoffs, outsourcing and the so called free trade movements.

Sometimes the greed of people never ceases to amaze. Last week’s strike is a case in point. The MTA and the mayor accused the transit workers of being unreasonable because they refused to agree to reduce pension benefits for the next generation of transit workers. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

The MTA insinuates that the pension benefits are causing them cash shortfall problems. Excuse me if I am confused. Is this the same MTA who were in agreement on the sale of the West Side property to the Jets, even though the deal was much less that the offer made by the Madison Square GardenCablevision crew? If they are having money woes why were they so willing to sell to the lowest bidder?

But many of us know what is really at work here: and that is the war of attrition being waged by corporations against the working class. Across America the insidious tactics of rapacious corporations can be seen in the mass layoffs, outsourcing and the so called free trade movements. And the scuffle between the transit workers and the MTA is but one example of this.

The MTA and their supporters accused the workers of being “selfish� and of striking with “utter disregard for the riders.� Unfortunately, some fell for this specious claim which was calculated to drive a wedge between the riders and the transit workers. But when the MTA decided not to rollback the fare hikes after it became evident that they weren’t hurting financially, as they had claimed, just who was being selfish? Some are now convinced that the MTA has two sets of books.

The courageous stance taken by the transit workers should inspire us. More and more the American worker is faced with reduced wages and shrinking pensions that benefit the greedy CEOs and shareholders. Remember all those people who lost their jobs at Enron while the fat cats enriched themselves? At the company’s headquarters, in Houston, some 4,000 were given their walking papers just before Christmas. And 24,000 people who participated in Enron’s retirement plan lost around a billion dollars!

However, a year before the company’s demise $744 million was divvied up among those in senior management including over $150 million to former chairman, Kenneth Lay. Jeffrey Skilling, the company’s former chief executive received $35 million. Those at the top also received $309 million in salaries, bonuses, long-term incentives loan advances and other payments. They also exercised stock options and received stock valued at $434.5 million.

Sure, the Enron parasites were exposed. And yeah, other corporate crooks like WorldCom’s Bernie Ebbers and Tyco’s Dennis Kozlowski are in now in jail. But for every Bernie Ebbers or Dennis Kozlowski that gets caught and has to answer for their gluttonous graft how many continue to operate unfettered? Does anyone think for a minute that they represent anything more that the tip of the corporate greed iceberg? We can thank the deregulation lobbyists for releasing the constraints that now allow corporations to exploit and leech off of the workers and builders of America.

The corruption of corporations must be looked at by the American people as a “clear and present danger� to any vision we have of building democracy in America. Corporations buy politicians through campaign financing, who in turn write laws and legislation favoring corporations, to the detriment of the masses. The rise of the “free trade� and “outsourcing� movements are nothing more than avenues to facilitate astronomical profits by cheap labor and the economic exploitation of poor people, including those here in America.

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics at least 3.3 million jobs will be lost abroad by 2015. And those figures may be conservative given the decreased wages many corporations will be paying abroad. For instance, in America a software programmer averages $66,100 a year. But in India that would drop to $10,000. A mechanical engineer here makes $55,000 a year. In India, they would make $5,900. An accountant here averages $41,000. In India, that salary falls to $5,000.

Three million Americans have lost their jobs since January, 2001. Ohio alone lost 270,000, 53,000 of which was definitively linked to foreign trade. And between, December 2000 to December 2001, 1.9 million jobs were lost in the manufacturing sector. Also, 1.5 million bankruptcies were filed during fiscal year 2002. It was the highest twelve month level in history.

Needless to say we are living through a very anti-worker era. In Washington, the current climate is extremely chilly towards those of the working class in this country. And with the massive layoffs of Americans coupled with the rise of outsourcing we should all be aware of the lower standard of living that is being forced upon us. The transit workers stood up. What about the rest of us?

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