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Auto Industry and the Environment
Professor of regional economic development at Case Western University in Ohio, Helper focuses on the auto industry. She recently co-wrote a piece in the New Republic magazine: "Better Than a Bailout: Here's how to rescue Detroit without forcing them into bankruptcy."
Retired president of UAW local 909 and a retired GM worker of 36 years, Benchich said today: "I don't see a comprehensive, sweeping plan of action, by the auto industry or the Obama administration, which will lead to the kind of job creation that will bring us out of this economic crisis.
"Obviously, car sales will not pick up for some time. That's why it is imperative for the federal government to announce that, in conjunction with the rebuilding of the nation's highways and bridges, a national high-speed rail system to connect major metropolitan areas will be created, along with a plan to convert buildings to utilize solar and wind energy. The automakers could then contract with the government to reopen closed and closing plants to build high-speed mass transit, wind turbines and solar panels, while continuing to focus on energy efficient autos. This action will create thousands of good-paying jobs that are environmentally sound. We have skilled workers who need work; vacant plants that can be utilized; and energy-efficient products that need to be made. It would be a win-win situation.
"Asking autoworkers and other workers to take cuts in wages and health care is counterproductive to the goals of the stimulus package. If the idea is to get more money into the pockets of working people so they can stimulate the economy, then pay cuts and cuts in health care and other benefits take money out of workers' pockets and continues the downward slide of the economy."