Should the auto union die?

February 24th, 2009

uaw-versus-gm-strikeI don’t typically like to follow politics, and it’s rare for me to get fired up over political issues.

But when politics enter the world of cars, all bets are off. Especially when common sense is obscured by political influences. 

Granted, politics has had its grimy hands wrapped around the auto industry for years; it’s just that no one really noticed or cared, because the public had money, and they were more than happy to give it to car dealers in exchange for new Chevy trucks.

That’s not the case anymore. In these troubled times we’re realizing the far-reaching stranglehold politics has on our beloved car industry.

I admit the United Auto Workers union has done amazing things for its members. I don’t know of any other union that has used its political power to secure free lifetime healthcare, provide a virtual guarantee against layoffs, and offer a hefty pension that can theoretically be collected for longer than someone actually worked.

As good as such arrangements are for workers, they’re absolutely insane business practices. Surely any CEO knows this, but the union has had the Big 3 paralyzed by fear. If GM tried to break agreements, they’d be saddled with a strike that could cost billions. If anyone from within the union had the guts to propose changes, they’d lose any hope they have at re-election.

Common sense flew out the window in exchange for power and money. I just wonder: If GM and Chrysler were able to lay people off to cut costs, would they be facing these dire consequences right now?

uaw-noPlease know that my beef isn’t with the people building American cars. It’s with the union behind them – a union that should not exist. I find it so ironic that to begin the process of freeing automakers from politics, they need massive political help from the U.S. government.

Readers can attack me all they want and accuse me of being ignorant about the auto industry. I’m not. I just want to love my U.S. automakers again.

In response to fellow blogger jgoods’ post yesterday, yes, we will always have an auto industry. Let’s just hope it becomes free of the politics of cars, and full of a renewed passion for them.

How does all this political news influence what you think about GM and Chrysler? Do you think the United Auto Workers’ union should exist?

-tgriffith

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  1. thegriffman
    | #1

    Unions. Hmm. My dad, a WWII vet, spent his war years in England repairing B-24 aluminum skins after they were shot up by the Germans. It’s very likely that the aluminum he used on those warplanes came from his hometown, Spokane, WA. Kaiser Aluminum had both pot-lines and rolling mills. Kaiser had to shut down it’s pot lines due to it’s inability to compete against the foreign market. Union labor costs killed them.
    Dad, after WWII went to work at Comet Corp, a Spokane based tractor-trailer company. They built 24′ to 53′ trailers, mostly made from aluminum. In the mid 60′s, the younger workers decided to unionize. The owner, T.C. Brown, told his labor force that if they unionized, he would shut his company down. It was not personal, he simply could not afford the increase in overhead. They unionized, he shut it down. My dad, who had never known any other type of work, lost his job. He attempted car sales and took whatever odd jobs he could. He had a wife and four kids to support. Dad never forgave the union for the financial hardship they put on him and his family. It took him years to recover.
    If our U.S. auto industry is to have any chance of recovery, the cost of labor is going to have to be greatly reduced. Will the auto execs have the same strength as T.C Brown did?
    thegriffman

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