When Michael Moore heard that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had some choice words for the auto workers' union during Detroit's bailout crisis, he penned a scathing response.
Happy Fuckin' Labor Day! I read this week that—according to a new book by Steven Rattner, your administration's former "Car Czar"—during White House meetings about how to save the tens of thousands of jobs that would be lost if GM and Chrysler collapsed, your response was, "Fuck the UAW!"
Now, I can't believe you actually said that. Maybe Rattner got confused because you drop a lot of F-bombs, or maybe your assistant was trying to order lunch and you said (to Rattner) "Fuck you" and then to your assistant "A&W, no fries."
Or maybe you did mean, "Fuck the UAW." If so, let me give you a little fucking lesson (a lesson I happen to know because my fucking uncle was in the sit-down strike that founded the fucking UAW.)
Before there were unions, there was no middle class. Working people didn't get to send their kids to college, few were able to own their own fucking home, nobody could take a fucking day off for a funeral or a sick day or they might lose their fucking job.
Then working people organized themselves into unions. The bosses and the companies fucking hated that. In fact, they were often overheard to say, "Fuck the UAW!!!" That's because the UAW had beaten one of the world's biggest industrial corporations when they won their battle on February 11, 1937, 44 days after they'd taken over the GM factories in Flint. Inspired by their victory, workers struck almost every other fucking industry, and union after union was born. Had World War II not begun and had FDR not died, there would have been an economic revolution that would have given everyone—everyone—a fucking decent life.
Nonetheless, labor unions did create a middle class for the majority (even companies that didn't have unions were forced to pay at or near union wages in order to attract a workforce), and that middle class built a great country and a good life. You see, Rahm, when people earn a fucking good wage, they spend it on stuff, which then creates more good-paying jobs, and then the middle class grows fucking big. Did you know that back when I was a kid if you had a parent making a union wage, only one parent had to work?! And they were home by 3 or 4 p.m., 5:30 at the latest! We had dinner together! Dad had four weeks paid vacation. We all had free health and dental care. And anyone with decent grades went to college and it didn't fucking bankrupt them. (And if you ever used the F-word, the nuns would straighten you out in ways that even you couldn't bear to hear about.)
Then a Republican fired all the air-traffic controllers, a Democrat gave us NAFTA, and millions of jobs were moved overseas. (Hey, didn't you work in that White House, too? "Fuck the UAW, baby!") Unions got scared and beaten down, a frat boy became president and, like a drunk out of control, spent all our fucking money and our children's money, too. Fuck.
You see, Rahm, when people earn a good wage, they spend it on stuff, which then creates more good-paying jobs.
And now your assistant's grandma has to work at fucking McDonald's. Ask her for pictures of what the middle-class life used to look like. It was effing cool! I'll bet grandma doesn't say "Fuck the UAW!"
Hey, don't get me wrong, Rahm. I fucking like you. You single-handedly got the House returned to the Dems in 2006. But you and your boss better do something fucking quick to put people back to work. How 'bout making it a crime to take an American job and move it out of the country? In other words, treat it as if it were a fucking national treasure like you would if someone stole the Declaration of Independence out of the National Archives or some poacher stole eggs out of the nest of an American bald eagle.
Or how about arresting some of those Wall Street guys who fucking stole our money, the money that ran the American economy. Now that would take some fucking guts. And maybe, just maybe, that one act of real guts might save your ass come November 2nd.
Oh, I can just hear you now: "Fuck Michael Moore!" No problem. But fuck the UAW? How 'bout if I just leave off the 'A' and the 'W'?
Yours, Michael Moore
P.S. Here is what Robert Kennedy had to say on Labor Day, 42 years ago, via today's op-ed from Rep. Alan Grayson:
"Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product ... if we should judge America by that—counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.
"It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.
"Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans."
When Robert Kennedy said these words, the unemployment rate in America was 3.7 percent. Today, it is almost three times as high. Too many of our working brothers and sisters are out of work, thanks to more than a decade of economic mismanagement. Ten percent of us are unemployed, and the other 90 percent work like dogs to try to avoid joining them. Which is just what the bosses want.
But it doesn't have to be that way. I look forward to a Labor Day where every worker has a job, every worker has a pension, every worker has paid vacations, and every worker has the health care to enjoy life. Our Republican opponents call that France. I call it America, an America that is No. 1.
Not No. 1 in wasted military expenditures.
Not No. 1 in number of foreign countries occupied.
No. 1 in jobs. No. 1 in health. No. 1 in education. No. 1 in happiness.
As Robert Kennedy famously said, "I dream of things that never were, and ask, 'Why not?'" Why not? Let's make it happen.
And then all of us who are Americans, including the ones today who are jobless, homeless, sick and suffering, we all can then say, "I am proud to be an American."
Michael Moore is an Academy Award-winning filmmaker and author. He directed and produced Roger & Me, Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, and Sicko. He has also written seven books, most recently, Mike's Election Guide 2008.