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Op-Ed: GM Decision Undercuts Jobs, Environment, Organized Labor


Location: Washington, DC

GM Decision Undercuts Jobs, Environment, Organized Labor

By Representative Dennis Rehberg

The decision by federally-controlled General Motors to abandon American-made palladium, mined at Stillwater Mine, in favor of foreign sources was arrogant and short-sighted. GM came to the American taxpayer, hat in hand, and asked for a bailout under the guise of preserving American jobs.

According to GM, taking its business - and the roughly 1,300 jobs it helps create - elsewhere, is a simple question of economics. You see, Russia and South Africa can produce palladium "cheaper" than the United States.

But it's not that simple.

One of the reasons domestic palladium costs more is because in America we take greater precautions to protect the environment and reduce emissions. Compared with overseas competitors, for example, Stillwater emits about 1,000 times less sulfur-dioxide into the atmosphere. The bitter irony is that GM uses palladium to create catalytic converters - which are designed to reduce car emissions - yet they employ mining companies in countries that have very little emissions controls.

Palladium mined at Stillwater is also more expensive because they actually pay fair wages, provide adequate benefits and negotiate with organized labor. That's not necessarily the case in overseas mines where employee rights and workplace safety conditions aren't a priority.

Americans are rightly outraged by the brazen hypocrisy of the decision made by GM and its new owners in Washington, D.C.. In one fell swoop, the government-controlled auto manufacturer exported American jobs, circumvented environmental regulations, and undercut organized labor in the U.S. A company that once urged us to "Buy American" would do well to heed its own advice if it wants to once again be the "heartbeat of America."

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