When Barack Obama held his first press conference after the election he brought with him the heavy hitters: almost to a man and woman they were leading establishment figures with little connection to or interest in the plight of the American labor movement.
Some, like Bob Rubin, Larry Summers and Paul Volcker, have done terrible damage to workers with their aggressive defense of Wall Street over the years.
But a few friends of labor in the commentariat noticed at the very edge of the crowd a dim memory of the Clinton era, former Labor Secretary turned Berkeley professor Robert Reich. From that they drew the hope that, indeed, labor would have a seat at the table in the new administration.
A faint, and feint, hope that has turned out to be. Reich not only had a poor track record of defending workers interests during the Clinton era (starting out as a key economic honcho only to be elbowed aside by ex-Goldman Sachs CEO Bob Rubin) but now he has turned on the cornered members of the United Autoworkers arguing they have to give up even more in order to justify federal support.
Funny, when the Feds bailed out Wall Street they did nothing about CEO salaries but autoworkers struggling to get by have to cut their wages in order to keep their jobs?
In fact, just a few months ago the UAW did just that – engineering huge wage cuts in their faux militant collective bargaining effort on behalf of UAW members at the Big Three. At the time the union and management crowed that they were now competitve with the Asian and European transplants.
But Reich wants more before he is willing as an Obama insider to back government aid for the troubled industry.
With friends like Reich in the new Administration…..