Commentary: Big Three, Congress must think of workers

As our political leaders sparred over whether to bail out the Big Three, I wondered how many times they really stopped to think about the workers whose hands build American automobiles.

For weeks, many Republicans have argued that providing a bridge loan to General Motors, Chrysler and Ford would be like throwing good money after bad, while those in favor rightly countered that allowing them to die will cost millions of jobs.

In all of this maneuvering, though, I couldn't help but remember the people I've known who've worked in factories and steel mills, and whose stomachs are tied in knots at the prospect that they will simply be forgotten.

My father, grandfathers and uncles supported their families as employees of Ford Motor Co. and its steel division. It was hard work (and no, they didn't earn $71 an hour) that propelled many a relative into the middle class. So, I understand that while many Michiganders have no sympathy for the corporate fat-cats whose wrong-headed decisions plunged them into this abyss, the more immediate concern is for the future of Big Three employees — and those in related industries — and the communities in which they live.

Thousands of miles away in San Luis Obispo County, many families are praying that their own jobs will be spared. Although our community has no direct ties to what’s happening in Detroit, there are reasons to be concerned that an auto industry collapse could have long-lasting repercussions here.

To read the complete column, visit The San Luis Obispo Tribune.