High health care costs lead to strike at GM.

Today, the United Auto Workers union announced they would launch a nationwide-strike, the first in 37 years, against General Motors over job security and benefits, as GM has sought to cut costs. Markos links the strike to GM’s astronomical health care costs, noting that the company spent $5.2 billion on health care in 2005. GM officials have acknowledged the need to address health care costs:

Failing to address the health care crisis would be the worst kind of procrastination,” [General Motors Corp. chairman and chief executive G. Richard] Wagoner said, “the kind that places our children and our grandchildren at risk and threatens the health and global competitiveness of our nation’s economy.” […]

GM is the canary in the coal mine for Medicare and everyone else,” said Sean P. McAlinden, chief economist at the nonprofit Center for Automotive Research. “There are many, many more companies out there in trouble because of health care costs than just the auto, steel and airline industries.”

Kos and Digby suggest that perhaps the strike could “drive the nation closer to universal health care.” More on the strike here.