One of Obama's Social Security Slasher Wannabes Threatens Small Town with Nuclear Annihilation
A lot of attention has recently been focused on one of President Barack Obama's top advisers on the Federal Debt Commission -- Former Senator Alan Simpson, R-WY. Simpson has generated justifiable outrage for describing Social Security as "a milk cow with 310 million tits." But Simpson isn't the only unhinged fanatic on Obama's Debt Commission. One man, in particular, stands out as far more sinister, and he was hand-picked for the Commission post by Obama himself.
Meet Honeywell CEO David Cote -- perhaps the most dangerous man in America. So dangerous that he's willing to risk nuclear fallout in order to demand that uranium workers agree to cut their retiree health care and pension plans.
Honeywell runs the only conversion facility in the world that can distill pure uranium, located in Metropolis, Illinois. On June 28, Honeywell locked out its union workers during contract negotiations because the union, United Steelworkers (USW) Local 7-669, refused to accept the company's proposal to eliminate retiree health care and pension plans for new hires and increase workers' out-of-pocket health care to $8,500 a year. Good health care coverage for retirees is especially important to uranium workers, who suffer rates of cancer 10 times higher than the general public due to their daily interaction with radioactive material. It's easy to see why the workers would refuse to give in to demands to eliminate retiree health care coverage.
In a major concession, the uranium workers' union refused to go on strike, out of concern for the safety of their complex and dangerous facility. To keep the plant safe, the union agreed to continue working under an extension of its current contract. But that didn't satisfy Honeywell, which is already making record profits. It decided it could make even more if it played hardball with its workers, risking a nuclear disaster.
So Honeywell's executives locked out the local uranium workers, who have decades of experience operating a hazardous uranium enrichment facility. Instead, Honeywell hired hastily trained scabs (replacement workers) to run the plant. Honeywell uranium worker John Paul Smith described the plan to run the plant on poorly trained scab labor as "a serious gamble." The Metropolis uranium plant is the only uranium enrichment facility in the world that can distill pure uranium, and it would be impossible to train workers fully on how to run such a complex facility in a matter of days or weeks.
"Basically, Honeywell CEO David Cote has a gun to the head of the local community," said Mark Dudzic, who has decades of experience negotiating with the nuclear industry as a longtime organizer with the old Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union (OCAW). One local resident, Jerry Baird, described the anxiety the community is feeling. "If they remember everything, it'll probably run. If they don't, they'll probably kill us all."
"Honeywell CEO David Cote is subtly threatening the lives of an entire community in order to increase Honeywell's profits," said Dudzic. When the mafia threatens people this way, the FBI calls it "extortion," when a corporation does it, it's called "labor relations."
But Cote's threats to our nation's security don't stop there.
Honeywell does billions of dollars of business with the Pentagon as a military contractor. As a member of the Deficit Commission, it is David Cotes' role to make sure the Commission doesn't examine cutting waste in the military contracting process that Honeywell benefits from.
This role comes despite a recent study by a bipartisan commission showing that $1 trillion could be cut easily from the defense budget. A different report by the House Armed Services Defense Acquisition Reform Panel this spring showed that the military contract process has so little oversight and is so wasteful it's actually harmful to our national security. Cote has instead pushed back against calls by Senator Tom Coburn, R-OK, to cut waste in the military by suggesting instead that the military cut the pay of its troops overseas (many of whom are already relying on food stamps) and make them pay for their own health care.
Cote's decision-making process personifies the short-sighted mentality of those calling for cutting Social Security. The families of the 52 million Social Security beneficiaries would be forced to take money out of the economy in order to financially provide for their loved ones. Even for those who enjoy the prospect of heartless exploitation, this effort is counter-productive. It reduces the overall demand in the economy, killing jobs, exacerbating the recession and ultimately crimping even corporate profits. Cote and his cohorts are so short-sighted they are willing to risk things like an economic recession, or nuclear fallout that would hurt everyone over the long run, even big corporations.
David Cote, a man who would threaten an entire town with nuclear annihilation in the name of corporate profits, has no place deciding Social Security's fate. He belongs on an episode of "The Sopranos," not on a major public policy panel.