Friday, December 05, 2008

Automaker bailout plan wrinkles Southern brows

With talk of a bailout for the Big 3 automakers dominating this week's news these days, Michigan and some other Rust Belt states are getting a lot of attention. But some are saying that the future of the auto industry is not in the Great Lakes region, but in the South.

"States like Alabama, with the second-largest per capita concentration of auto-related jobs, as well as South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia and Mississippi, have been growing these high-wage jobs for a new generation," writes Joel Kotkin for "And the fact that the region will likely be producing the majority of the most low-mileage and low-emission cars certainly cannot hurt their future prospects." (Read more)

Sylvia Lovely, executive director of the Kentucky League of Cities and president of the New Cities Foundation, explains the region's appeal to car manufacturers. "The easy answer is that they came for cheaper land and labor," she writes on, but "They came also for laborers eager to find the good paying auto jobs that had escaped the South for too long." She also says the region contains a strong work ethic often ignored in stereotypes.

"Of course, we don’t want to see any part of America fail, including Detroit," she writes, "but others do see the bailout as undermining a trend that favors efficiency in manufacturing." But whatever Congress decides, they would do well to recognize that the auto industry isn't just about Detroit anymore. (Read more)

Japanese automakers have a stake in the fate of their American competitors, Coco Masters of Time magazine reports from Tokyo: "The bankruptcy of one or more of the Big Three could create havoc among parts suppliers that sell to Japan's carmakers; job losses would send more shock waves through the U.S. economy, deepening the recession in what is by far the largest single market for Japanese cars." (Read more)

UPDATE, Dec. 6: In an op-ed piece for the Los Angeles Times, Jonathan Cutler of Wesleyan University examines the failure of the United Auto Workers to unionize Japanese plants in the U.S. and build a relationship with Japan's auto workers union.

1 comment:

libhom said...

The purpose of the corporate media's opposition to the bailout is to push the automakers into bankruptcy, where union contracts are torn up. That will lower wages and benefits for the auto workers.

An attack on compensation for so many middle class Americans will drive down wages for tens of millions more who don't work in the auto industry, which is precisely what the corporate owners of the media want.

They don't care if America is pushed into a depression. In the long run, the rich get a bigger share of the money in our society if the Big Three go belly up.