General Motors announced Feb. 3 gargantuan profits for 2015. The auto giant netted $9.7 billion after what little it pays in taxes. Organizers in Detroit with the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions & Utility Shutoffs say that $4 billion of that sum should immediately go to help the people of Flint rebuild their water infrastructure and for medical needs.
A demonstration is planned for Feb. 10 at 4 p.m. outside the GM world headquarters in downtown Detroit (on E. Jefferson between Brush and Beaubien) to demand the company use $4 billion — less than one-half of one year’s profits — to help the city it used, destroyed and left behind.
So far GM has been silent about the Flint water catastrophe, even though, as activists point out, “It was GM’s actions that were responsible for the financial destruction of Flint, a majority African-American city placed under emergency management, and the disastrous consequences that followed.”
A statement issued by the Moratorium NOW! Coalition points out:
- In its drive for superprofits, GM eliminated 72,000 union auto jobs in Flint from 1970 to the present, driving out half of the population and turning Flint from one of the wealthiest cities in the U.S. into the poorest. GM closed 24 plants in Genesee County and moved operations all over the globe, seeking higher profits by paying lower wages. In U.S. plants, GM replaced workers with robots. The loss of jobs and plants destroyed Flint’s tax base.
- When GM became aware of the toxic, corrosive nature of Flint’s water supply in October 2014, it didn’t alert the public or call for the end of its use in family water taps. No, it negotiated an exemption for itself to get water from Lake Huron so its parts would not be corroded, the people be damned.
- GM is the single greatest polluter of the Flint River, using it to dump toxic industrial waste for decades.
- GM promoted lead-based gasoline for 60 years to make its engines more efficient at the least cost, knowing full well the poisonous effects of lead.
- GM got a $50 billion bailout from the federal government in 2009, on which the government lost over $11 billion, when GM’s mismanagement resulted in losses. The state of Michigan, under Govs. Granholm and Snyder, gave GM $4 billion in tax credits through 2030, meaning every year that GM is profitable it pays zero state taxes.
- The United Auto Workers and Flint civil rights groups fought GM’s racist hiring practices for decades. The closing of over 150 U.S. plants has had a disproportionate impact on the African-American community.