Statement by Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President, Detroit Branch NAACP
Detroit, MI – On June 1, 2009, President Barack Obama said, “I also recognize the importance of a viable auto industry to the well being of families and communities across our industrial Midwest and across the United States. In the midst of a deep recession and financial crisis the collapse of these companies would have been devastating for countless Americans and done enormous damage to our economy beyond the auto industry. It was also clear that if GM and Chrysler remade and retooled themselves for the 21st century, it would be good for American workers, good for American manufacturing, and good for America’s economy.”
In short, the president indicated, “Our goal is to get GM back on its feet, take a hands-off approach and get out quickly.” As a result, this commitment, following an initial investment of $15 billion dollars and an additional investment of $30 billion dollars in General Motors, an investment that entitled American taxpayers to the ownership of 60% of the new GM. This was done because of the tremendous sacrifices made by American workers and their families across this nation. Well, General Motors today is back on its feet as of August 1, 2019. CNBC indicates the company reported revenues of $36.1 billion. Shares of GM rose more than 7% over that last 12 months and are up more than 21% since the beginning of the year. The original estimation of revenues was $35.98 billion vs. an achieved $36.1 billion. This is an indication of a company that is doing well and is in a position to support, encourage and invest in the workers who have enabled it to achieve these goals.
The words of the late Walter Reuther of the UAW still haunt us when he said, “We believe this approach (progress sharing) is a rational approach because you cooperate in creating the abundance that makes the progress possible, and then you share that progress after the fact, and not before the fact.” It is apparent that progress has been made. It is apparent that the progress to achieve income equality and equity for workers has not been made. No worker wants to strike and walk a picket line versus walking the assembly line. Yet, one must know that wherever they are walking and working it is not in vain.
President and CEO of the General Motors Corporation Mary T. Barra gives solid advice when it comes to the firing of workers: “My advice on firing is simple: Treat that person the same way you’d want to be treated if you were in that situation. They’re still a good person, just not the right fit. So how do you help them move on in a productive way that allows them to maintain their dignity?” Certainly, we all find common ground in being treated the same way in which you treat other people. We contend that one of the most profound ways for any worker to maintain his or her dignity is to pay them based on the work that they perform, the value that they hold and the progress that the company has made. Let us all stand in solidarity with the workers. Scripture teaches us that, “Laborers are worthy of their hire,” 1 Timothy 5:18. Indeed they are!