Auto workers face neocons at the bargaining table
Published Jul 4, 2007 11:43 PM
What has three heads and drops bombs?
If you follow news about the auto industry, the three heads would be a dead
giveaway. Cerberus, the three-headed guard dog of Greek mythology, is the name
and mascot of the Wall Street hedge fund buying Chrysler. The more we learn
about the firm, however, the more we might conclude that the modern-day
Cerberus is not the guardian of hell but its more famous horned denizen.
As is often stated in the media, former U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow is
the firm’s chair and former vice president and spelling blunderer Dan
Quayle its Global Operations chair. Yet Quayle did not leave politics; he is
one of the 25 elite signers of the mission statement of the neocon think tank,
the Project for the New American Century. Their document proclaims that:
“We need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry
out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the
future. ... We need to accept responsibility for America’s unique role in
preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our
prosperity, and our principles.”
Other signers include Dick Cheney and such now-disgraced figures as I. Lewis
“Scooter” Libby, Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld.
Rumsfeld is an investor in Cerberus, which is rumored to require a minimum
outlay of $1 million to join the club. Cerberus, in turn, is a major
contributor to Republican candidates, although it also funds Democrats such as
These contributions don’t come without strings. MCI, partially owned by
Cerberus, was a subcontractor in an $8.8 billion project to build a secure
computer network for the Navy and Marines. When MCI was in danger of being
dumped by the Navy, Cerberus held a fundraiser for California Representative
Jerry Lewis, who was then chair of the House Appropriations Committee. One
hundred and thirty-three thousand dollars later, MCI was kept on the project.
Among those investigating the scandal was Carol Lam, later fired by Alberto
Cerberus owns Netco, a Navy supplier, and IAP Worldwide Services, a major
provider of logistics support to the U.S. Army in Iraq. IAP had the contract to
run the privatized Walter Reed military hospital, whose shoddy care to wounded
Iraq veterans has inflamed public outrage. It was IAP who mismanaged the
delivery of desperately needed ice during the Katrina disaster.
Cerberus’ paid lobbyist, former top Quayle aide Craig Whitney, formed a
political action committee, Improve America PAC, almost exclusively with
Cerberus funds. The first lobbyist Cerberus contracted with, Patton Boggs, made
available the services of Laurence Harris, a former Federal Communications
Commission staffer who would join MCI’s board of directors; retired
Marine Colonel John Garrett; and Marcus Dunn, a former aide to two members of
the House Armed Services Committee. Former Utah Republican Senator Jake Garn
was paid $410,000 in 2003 to lobby for Cerberus.
Cerberus also has ties to Washington’s closest military ally. The firm
owns Israel’s second largest bank, Leumi, and collaborated with Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert in the privatization of Israel’s state banking
It’s not only Chrysler workers who have this monster to contend with;
Cerberus is now looking at buying Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford. The firm may
also decide not to withdraw from the purchase of Delphi. Cerberus is buying
Tower Automotive and owns other auto parts companies.
Not inclined to be left out, Bush family friend the Carlyle Group has just
arranged to buy Allison Transmission from General Motors.
As the military faction of the U.S. ruling class sinks its teeth into the auto
industry, it’s clear the UAW has a quite a formidable foe to negotiate
with—but as the Iraqi people have shown, it is a foe that is not
Martha Grevatt has worked at the Chrysler stamping plant in Twinsburg,
Ohio, for 20 years and serves on the executive board of her local
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