The Red Tail
For an entire generation, workers all over the world have been squeezed financially. In the 1980s a CEO made about four times the salary of an average worker. Today, they make about 400 times that amount. This is a documentary about how the current economic system is hurting the working class.
Roy Koch was an aircraft mechanic for thirty-eight years. He worked for Northwest Airlines for twenty-three years. On August 19, 2005 Roy Koch, along with over 4,000 airline mechanics, custodians, and cleaners, went on strike against Northwest Airlines. The main point of contention was that the airline wanted to lay off 53% of them and outsource their jobs. 93% of union members voted to authorize a strike. They knew the world was watching and they were willing to do whatever was necessary even if it meant pulling the company into bankruptcy. “We either all come back or none of us come back” were the words spoken by strike organizers. From 9/11 up to the day of the strike Northwest had already laid off 5,000 workers so the remaining workers felt that they had already made a concession and nobody else needed to lose his or her job.
Because of all the talk about gas prices, cheap flights, 9/11, and a failing airline industry, it was easy for the public to believe that the layoffs were inevitable. Doug Steenland, who was then the CEO for Northwest Airlines, said that “… the company simply has no choice” because no one was willing to take a pay cut, receive a furlough notice, or adjust his or her standard of living. But how could the union ask more than half of the workers to give up their jobs?
What followed was a 444-day strike. Sadly, as is usually the case, the public was being told the story of the strike from the company’s perspective. Nobody asked where the jobs were being sent and who would replace the workers that were being laid off. The reality was that most of the jobs were being outsourced to third-party maintenance bases in Asia.
It’s a fact of life that in our current economy outsourcing is firmly in place. Globalization is constantly seeking for ways to get the job done faster and cheaper and anybody who doesn’t cooperate is at risk of losing his or her job. Because of this, society has reached a new level of inequality where the rich live in gated communities with a particular lifestyle while everybody else has to work more and have less to show for it. Watch this documentary now.