Guardian Op-Ed Urges UAW To Unionize Tesla

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Hamilton Nolan purports to be a writer whose topics are labor, politics, and power. According to his website, he has over 8,000 subscribers. Frankly, I have never heard of him and I’m quite sure he has never heard of me either. In an op-ed for The Guardian on September 21, 2023, he says that Tesla “is now US labor’s most important target. If Musk doesn’t like that, he’s welcome to settle it with an auto worker by cage match.”

Shawn Fain vs. Elon Musk. Now, there’s an image you can’t unsee! For your own consideration and general amusement, go ahead and read the full story before moving on to my takeaway on it.

Image courtesy of Tesla

The Takeaway

I have made my own pro-union proclivities abundantly clear (the evils of Jimmie Hoffa notwithstanding). On the other hand, I am also one of those “cult-like investors” Hamilton speaks of, so I am of two minds about his screed op-ed. To me, it comes down to this: Should American workers be able to lead a solidly middle-class lifestyle or are they wage slaves who must work two or sometimes three jobs while living in their mother’s garage?

The weaponized capitalist system has given us a class of wealthy plutocrats who, thanks to the ignorance of John Roberts, can plow endless amounts of money into supporting political candidates who will promise to cut taxes on the rich. It has also given us globalization, a system that outsources jobs to the lowest wage areas of the world where people labor in slave-like conditions to fill the shelves at Walmart with cheap imported goods.

There are so many moving pieces to globalization, not the least of which are the enormous carbon emissions created when millions of containers are sent across oceans to be distributed by millions of tractor trailers. Since there is no international price on carbon, that cost never gets added to the sales price of those goods, which is a gross distortion of the economic system and creates a “Heads we win, tails you lose” situation.

In truth, those foreign-made goods should be marked up by 20% or more to compensate for the environmental harm associated with their manufacture and distribution. Once all the costs of manufacture get taken into account, those foreign-made goods aren’t nearly as cheap as they are claimed to be.

In addition, what made America great was a robust and thriving middle class. Until that comes back, America can never reclaim its self-proclaimed mantle of greatness. The nation is well on its way to becoming a feudal society based on a plantation mentality that robs workers of their dignity.

So, bring on the cage match between the UAW and Tesla. Just let me know when it’s going to happen so I can sell my Tesla shares first!

Post Script

As I was writing this, I was listening to Pandora when Johnny Cash’s Man In Black came on. I hadn’t heard it for a while, but I was struck by how his words spoke so eloquently to the troubled times we find ourselves in. There is much wisdom in his song, and so I thought that, since this article is partly about social justice, this might be a good time to share it with you all. Enjoy!

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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