Some things are negotiable; some not | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Some things are negotiable; some not

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2009 at 9:21 AM

The rage over bonuses and the desire to finger-point in the current financial turmoil has been interesting to watch.

Republicans have argued for the sanctity of contracts when it comes to the AIG bonuses. Some of these same Republicans have been howling, however, for renegotiation of union carmaker contracts. These $60,000-a-year workers are simply making off with too much money. Make them hurt, dammit. AIG execs? A contract is sacred.

Now comes an absolute stunning (to me) story from NPR about a little perk at General Motors. Not for the cosseted assembly line workers, but for the much more richly paid white collar ranks. Under a long-standing program, some 8,000 of them have been getting a new company car every three months -- plus free gas to run the guzzlers that many of them favor.

GM execs aren't willing to renegotiate this multi-million-dollar expense. It would just be too hard on the lifestyles of the white collar execs, many of whom use their honkin' Suburbans and free gas to commute long distances from suburbs. What a deal. They contribute to sprawl, fuel waste and decay of inner cities while also helping to wreck their company's bottom line. Before you yell again about screwing the assembly line workers, remember this:

GM has talked about ending the program, but a spokesman said employees have built their lives around it. It allows many to live far from their offices and commute at little expense.

The spokesman said killing the program now would be "extremely" disruptive.

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