BlackBox Radio

October 17, 2005

Local Headlines 10-18

Filed under: Weekly Show — blackboxradio @ 10:08 pm

The results of globalization are being felt by 15,000 Michigan employees of Troy-based Delphi Corporation, who may lose their jobs and a substantial portion of their life savings after the company declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week.

Delphi, the world’s largest car parts supplier, was it paid handsome dividends to investors and large salaries averaging $1.1 million to each executive. According to the Dayton Daily News, the day before he declared bankruptcy, CEO Steve Miller extended the golden parachutes being offered to Delphi executives to 18 months’ full pay and benefits.

Delphi’s 50,000 hourly employees, meanwhile, are being asked to accept a 63% reduction in salaries under bankruptcy, from $27 to $10 dollars an hour.

It was revealed separately last week that Delphi’s pension fund has been underfunded by $10.8 billion dollars, raising the question of where the large executive salaries and investor dividends came from. Miller, who was brought in just 3 months ago, has presided over 10 similar bankruptcies, euphemistically called corporate restructurings. His last position was with United Airlines, which defaulted on the largest pension fund in history after declaring bankruptcy earlier this year.

Delphi’s pension fund will most likely be turned over to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, which will be able to repay only 40 cents on the dollar of what is owed Delphi pensioners. In fact, the North Carolina Times reports that the federally-guaranteed pension corporation has absorbed so many defaulted pension funds that it has a deficit of $23 billion dollars.

In effect, according to the Dayton Daily Times, the combination of offshore outsourcing and bankruptcy restructuring has allowed GM, through Delphi, to get rid of highly-paid union positions and to divest itself of its pension obligations while passing these costs on to American taxpayers.

The Free Press reports that the UAW will be filing a formal complaint with the court. UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and UAW Vice President Richard Shoemaker, in a written statement to the press, said quote “Once again, we see the disgusting spectacle of the people at the top taking care of themselves at the same time they are demanding extraordinary sacrifices from their hourly workers”.

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According to an email from Michigan Peaceworks, MPW director Phillis Engelbert and U-M School of Social Work interns Joe Kuilema , Laura Russello, and Natalie Holbrook of the Washtenaw County ACLU and Huron High parent Andy Buchsbaum, met with three Ann Arbor Public Schools administrators about student privacy vis-a-vis military recruitment in the Ann Arbor public high schools. At issue was “opting out” – the process that removes students from the lists given by the schools to military recruiters.

In the two largest Ann Arbor high schools, the present military opt-out process results in omission of the student’s name from the school directory. This method has the unintended consequences of socially penalizing the opted-out students and removing students from the directory used by colleges, universities, and employers. These consequences are preventing some students who do not wish to be contacted by the military from opting out.

In the meeting, MPW members explained to the administrators the problems with the current opt-out process and encouraged the un-linking of the opt-out process with the directories. They proposed that schools create separate lists of students, minus those who opt-out, to be given to recruiters. The administrators were very receptive to this idea and said that beginning next fall, opt-out information will be mailed to all high school students prior to the start of the school year. The administrators took the separate-list matter under advisement and promised to reply to Michigan Peaceworks in a few weeks.

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Arborupdate reports that the New West Side Association has launched a lease renewal watch. Although area landlords claim that they don’t put pressure on tenants to renew leases early, several management companies have already begun asking for renewal commitments.

According to blog ann arbor is over-rated, Oppenheimer Properties, one of the area’s largest landlords, sent a letter to local tenants claiming to have received calls from interested parties about leasing for the 2006-2007 school year. Although the letter admits it is early to start thinking about next year’s living arrangements, it ends by stating, quote “IF WE DO NOT HEAR FROM YOU BY 10/21/05 IT WILL BE ASSUMED YOUR APARTMENT/HOUSE WILL BE AVAILABLE TO LEASE FOR THE 2006/2007 SCHOOL YEAR.”

New West Side is asking renters to send in the details of their renewal requests, including the landlord, size of unit, dates of current lease expiration and of renewal request, and changes in rent. Please send the information to director at newwestside.org or visit the New West Side blog webpage at newwestside.org/blog.

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A dispute between neighbors, one black and one white, caught the attention of a
white supremacist group and led to a neo-Nazi march and violent confrontations between police and local residents in Toledo on Saturday.

Tom Szych, who is white, has a long-standing feud with his neighbor, Amelia Gray, who is black, and with her landlord who lived in the apartment previously. Syzch has also complained to police about disturbances he blames on local “gangs” of black youths.

This caught the attention of the National Socialist Movement, a white supremacist movement from Virginia which calls itself “America’s Nazi Party”. The Movement decided to hold a protest march against the alleged black violence and victimization of white people in Mr. Szych’s North Toledo neighborhood. The Szych family said they did not contact the group and are not racists.

According to reports by Michigan Indymedia and the Toledo Blade, the proposed march ignited reactions among many groups: white supremacists in the Ohio-Michigan area, who determined to join the march; members of “Erase the Hate”, a collaborative effort of 20 area educational, religious, and community organizations, who arranged a peaceful counter-rally some distance from the march; local African-Americans who reacted with resentment to the march and to recent events like the hurricane Katrina response; and the Toledo police, who mobilized over 150 officers, along with helicopters, cruisers, tear gas, and officers mounted on horseback to quell any public disturbance.

Not surprisingly, the mix of emotions and the show of police power sparked violence, including protestors throwing rocks at police forces, at which point police canceled the neo-Nazi march and began firing tear-gas canisters and arresting anti-racist demonstrators. At least 65 people were reported arrested by early Sunday, and a car and local bar had been set on fire.

Infoshop News reports that most of the violence happened when residents, who had pelted the Nazi marchers with bottles and rocks, took their anger out on police. Chief news photographer for CNN affiliate WTVG Brian Jagodzinski said quote “The crowd was extremely agitated at the police for doing this, making arrests in the community when they should be doing this to the Nazis”.

Toledo mayor Jack Ford declared a state of emergency Saturday afternoon and issued a citywide curfew.

The National Socialist Movement webpage blames the violence on what they call communists, who they claim handed out weapons to blacks and incited them to riot, on the blacks themselves, whose actions they say exemplified the violence they were protesting, and on the police, who they claim double-crossed them and deliberately led them into the opposition’s counter-rally.

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