By on February 23, 2008

photographer-2601200615_36_04_hospital-room.jpgAs GM's fortunes head for their inevitable denouement, it's time to pause and reflect on the deal that revolutionized the American automaker's labor relations. I speak here of the multi-billion dollar bribe paid to the United Auto Workers (UAW) to cut their sky-high wages and benefits down to size. In exchange for a new Voluntary Employees Beneficiary Association (VEBA) health care trust, the union accepted a two-tier wage system. At a stroke, Motown became competitive with the transplants, while the UAW protected its members' health care benefits for all time. In theory.

Until now, analyzing the agreement was impossible. After the strike-busting health care deal was announced in September, GM and the UAW asked for– and received– a legally binding blackout on final negotiations.

Last Thursday, the UAW sued GM in U.S. District Court. The “non-hostile” lawsuit is designed to secure court approval for changes to the union's health care coverage for 500k or so GM retirees and spouses, as well as thousands of current UAW workers. If the court approves, the new health care VEBA will commence in 2011.

Thanks to the suit, crucial details of the deal are finally coming to light. According to court records, GM has agreed to pay $33b to $36.5b into the trust. Although the figure is in line with expectations, it's an epic financial burden.

[For perspective, GM’s current market capitalization is $13.6b. As of December 31, 2007, GM claims that its total current liquidity– cash, marketable securities and readily available assets from the current VEBA– is $27.3 billion.]

At the moment, we don’t know the exact timing or formula for GM’s contribution to the VEBA– other than the fact that it includes varying levels of cash and notes convertible into stock. But we do know that GM has agreed to make up to 20 annual $165m “backstop payments” to the VEBA if its funding level “can’t provide current benefit levels for at least 25 years from the date of the required payment.”

In other words, GM is planning for failure. Of course, they’re not the only ones. According to UAW Vice President Cal Rapson, “Since the money for our benefits will be paid up front, our retirees will have important protections in case of changes in GM's financial condition."

Yes, well, who’s going to protect UAW members from their own union’s malfeasance? Under the terms of the agreement filed with the court, an 11-member committee will run the GM VEBA trust. The court will pick six members; the UAW International President appoints five, who "may be removed or replaced, and a successor designated, at any time by written notice from the UAW International president." All members must adhere to a code of ethics that bars them from holding a “substantial interest” in any company doing business with the trust. There's no word on committee members' compensation. 

Supposedly, the fact that a majority of VEBA administrators will be court-appointed “outsiders” will protect union members' health care coverage. Under the trust agreement, participants and beneficiaries will be "reasonably informed as to how the trust's assets are used and cared for" on an annual basis. In practice, one need only look at GM’s Board of Bystanders to understand the pitfalls of relying on "independent" overseers.

And GM’s Board is a model of probity when compared to the UAW's long, sordid history of corruption. The National Legal and Policy Center’s website lists 84 cases of UAW/CAW corruption, involving millions of dollars. The links only go back to 1998, and who knows how many cases of corruption weren't uncovered?

In short, anyone who believes that the UAW will keep its mitts off of the $36.5b VEBA does so in the face of common sense and a firmly established record of criminal behavior.

But even if you discount the possibility that the VEBA may be ransacked by UAW bosses and their cronies, who’s to say that this union-intensive GM VEBA committee will be effective? Lest we forget, GM is paying the trust pennies on the dollar– significantly less than the company's total anticipated health care costs.

There’s only way for the VEBA to maintain the current of health care coverage: improve efficiency. That’s a fancy way of saying the VEBA administration will have to cut costs, either by eliminating waste and fraud or finding new ways to "economize" on members' health care. What are the odds? And what are the odds that health care costs won’t continue to skyrocket, outpacing any efforts to rein them in?

And despite the UAW’s claim that GM’s health care VEBA will be front-loaded to protect union members from a GM Chapter 11, the court records tell a different tale. “Whether benefits or participant contributions would have to be adjusted by the VEBA trustees thereafter will depend on many factors, including whether GM remains financially viable so it can make the required payments on time.”

There’s no question that the UAW – GM VEBA agreement was a game-changer. But it is NOT a game winner. GM's eventual labor cost reduction will not, by itself, lead to competitive products. Meanwhile, UAW members’ health care now depends on its leaders’ integrity AND GM’s business acumen– neither of which should instill confidence in the rank and file who spent their lives building security for themselves and their dependents.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

41 Comments on “General Motors Death Watch 165: The VEBA Fiasco...”


  • avatar
    CliffG

    Soooo, the difference between GM and every other Western governments’ long term entitlement programs is? Well, the governments have their own printing presses. Other than that, not much other than the fact that GM will be bankrupt slightly quicker than, say, the US or Germany. Greece?* Maybe not.

    Learning that GM’s VEBA is essentially a con job to put off telling everyone that US taxpayers will end up paying for those retirees long term care is not exactly a stunning piece of news.

    *At a 100% tax rate, Greece is still functionally bankrupt within 10 years (and arguably right now).

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    Despite all the negatives with this VEBA, the alternative reality is no better.

    I don’t understand the 20 – $165m/year “back-stop” payments. In the big picture of GM’s benefit liabilities, $165m a year is nothing. It won’t make or break the VEBA. Sounds like a bribe to me.

    If I were in the UAW, I’d be mightly concerned that the VEBA is “funded” with nothing but IOU’s for stock, not even real stock or real money. What’s up with that?

  • avatar
    olddavid

    This pessimism, while historically astute, may- just may- be out of place. In the past, everyone at the table knew the other side was lying through their teeth. In America, we call this negotiating. This has been a time-honored method of adversarial tactics largely brought to us by the legal system. However, in light of recent corporate bankruptcies (see United Air Lines) which have exposed the Federal Pension Guaranty Board (I forget their actual moniker) as the under-funded fraud that it is (and was always meant to be), I believe a sort of Realpolitik may be finally setting in on the negotiators. They may just realize that they succeed, or fail, together. This is, to me,a long-time progressive, a good thing. I am hoping the unity that this could engender will spark co-operation unseen in the entire history of these parties. They have no other place to go. Failure will be the fault of the guy in the mirror.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Jimmy Hoffa must be getting a kick out of this.

  • avatar
    crackers

    UAW/CAW workers have historically had insane levels of benefits. Here in Canada, they get premium dental/orthodontal, drug and optometry benefits. They even get legal advice. Reducing wages to competitive levels was step 1. The next step is reducing/offloading the benefits ,and the VEBA is part of that strategy. With the amount that is going to the VEBA, I would have thought it cheaper just to give the UAW the entire company. It would make for some very interesting times.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    @ olddavid,

    How about if the guys at the negotiation table face either golden parachutes or sacks of cash stowed away in their houses as consequence of said failure while the people who truly bear risk never knew a thing about the details of the deal anyway?

  • avatar
    frontline

    I did not understand any of this deal… This could be from ingesting 1 16 once beer or it is because this deal is darn confusing. I assumed that GM was paying billions in upfront money and now I’m reading about miniscule yearly payments. How much cash does GM have on hand at this moment? How much will they pay out to UAW and when? Please simplify.

  • avatar
    lprocter1982

    Frontline, I think it’d be less confusing if you had three or four 16 ounce beers. I’m not even going to try to understand it because 1)I don’t really care, and 2)It’s way, way over my head.

  • avatar

    lprocter1982 :

    How much will they pay out to UAW and when? Please simplify.

    Excellent question. The exact details are still not known…

  • avatar
    natredde

    I hate to point out the obvious, but still calling it a Death Watch after having the time to write 165 articles is silly. Most people would agree that GM is far from dead right now. And stating that the eventual labor cost reduction will not, by itself, lead to competitive products is assuming the company has none of them to begin with. I can hear it now: “But dude! Everything they make sucks!” Right, right. But have you actually DRIVEN any of their new products? “Don’t need to, man. Everybody knows they suck.” Alrighty then. Thank you average American that doesn’t know a quality car from your anus.

    Long live the Loverman!

  • avatar

    natredde :

    I hate to point out the obvious, but still calling it a Death Watch after having the time to write 165 articles is silly.

    GM’s decline has been going on for decades. Just think what number I’d be on now if I’d started when their U.S. market share began its decline. And to that point, if and when it seems that GM is “out of the woods” (i.e. solidly and sustainably profitable), I will cease this series.

    Most people would agree that GM is far from dead right now.

    Most people would agree no such thing. GM’s sinking stock price is but one indication that I am not alone in thinking that GM is not doing well.

    And stating that the eventual labor cost reduction will not, by itself, lead to competitive products is assuming the company has none of them to begin with.

    GM sells 49 products in the U.S. The company does not have one product that dominates its segment. As good as they are, the new CTS, Malibu and Acadia are cannibalizing sales from existing product.

    “But dude! Everything they make sucks!” Right, right. But have you actually DRIVEN any of their new products? “Don’t need to, man. Everybody knows they suck.” Alrighty then. Thank you average American that doesn’t know a quality car from your anus.

    This comment is dangerously close to a flame. TTAC does not tolerate accusations of pro- or anti-American bias against the site– unless it’s on a post specifically addressing this issue (which we put up on a regular basis).

    [Any and all questions about TTAC’s editorial stance or style can be addressed to me at robert.farago@thetruthaboutcars.com. I will answer all such comments individually and personally.]

    In any case, I’ve driven every GM product I can find.

    Long live the Loverman!

    Fair enough.

  • avatar
    hltguy

    If I understand this correctly, both GM annd the UAW sold out their employees/members? And the bosses of both organizations sail comfortably into the sunset with large sacks of retirement dough after leading the sheep to slaughter. I think the GM employees and retirees better be stocking up on pain relievrs, suppositories and viagra, tough times are a comin’

  • avatar
    Honda_Lover

    Agreed, this should be renamed GM Suck Watch.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    I have read most of Farago’s rants on the death of GM & Ford. When you strip away all of the details the one thing both of these companies have to face is can they get profitable before they run out of cash? Farago keeps saying this 165 different ways, the only thing remarkable is that these companies have gone this far on vapors. Know this, if two things happen in 2008 we will have a perfect storm that sinks all domestic producers. First, a $4.00 per gallon gas price that lasts for several months. Second, a substantial slowdown in total US auto sales for 2008. Will Ford and GM (and chrysler) be downsized to a couple of successful crossovers and sedans with everything else cut loose? I don’t think so. How many of the old rabbit tricks can be resurrected? With the millions going into GMAC, (for morgage losses) I don’t think 0% for the masses ever returns. (Notice the new ads say 0% to very well qualified buyers this means maybe 1 in 10 applications get approved). There is always Avis and Hertz, but these sales do not make profits. To stop beating this dead horse, how long can these staggering fighters keep standing taking hits?

  • avatar

    Most people would agree that GM is far from dead right now.

    $38.7 billion loss in the last fiscal year.

  • avatar
    natredde

    “GM’s decline has been going on for decades. Just think what number I’d be on now…”

    Somehow I think being on GM Death Watch 2752 wouldn’t necessarily add a lot of legitimacy.

    “The company does not have one product that dominates its segment.”

    Is this your evidence that GM has no competitive products? Must a car dominate its segment just to be considered as such? A few vehicles that do not dominate their segment: M6, Toyota Tundra, LS460L, G35. Are these not quality, competitive vehicles? By the way, how does the Corvette not dominate its segment?

    “As good as they are, the new CTS, Malibu and Acadia are cannibalizing sales of existing product.”

    To expand on your CTS example, it has won MT COTY, received a pick over the 2008 3-series and 2008 C-Class from Consumer Reports, IIHS top pick, CNET technology COTY along with numerous design, safety and performance accolades. The specs and options mirror a 5-series with a price that starts $10,000 less. Cadillac is also at the top of the 2007 J.D. Power Dependability Survey behind only Buick and Lexus, which are tied for first place.

    And since I know you’ve driven one, would you still not consider this car competitive? Are you saying the only appeal is with existing Cadillac owners?

    “This comment is dangerously close to a flame.”

    That comment was not aimed at TTAC, but reflects a general attitude among a lot of uninformed buyers. Buyers that SOMEHOW deem a vehicle non-competitive no matter how many accolades it has won. Couple that with 165 different articles about “the death of GM” from ONE source and you may start to see things differently.

    You’re highly revered within the auto blogosphere, Mr. Farago and I don’t doubt your neutrality. But it’s easy to tell the difference between someone who’s fundamentally neutral versus someone that forces himself to be.

    I love TTAC, so ban me if you may, it’s just my two cents.

    By the way, I’m not just some GM fanboy. Here’s my history:
    Galant
    Escort
    Tiburon
    G35 Coupe
    IS350
    soon to be 2008 CTS

  • avatar

    Natredde, “I hate to point out the obvious, but still calling it a Death Watch after having the time to write 165 articles is silly. Most people would agree that GM is far from dead right now. ……. I can hear it now: “But dude! Everything they make sucks!” Right, right. But have you actually DRIVEN any of their new products? “Don’t need to, man. Everybody knows they suck.”.

    From my observations I see people making the common mistake of judging GM or any carmakers health by their product portfolio. What I like about TTAC is that Robert Farago and other have delved into and broken down the business side financial numbers.

    Its my opinion that GM simply has a mountain of debt and the lack of profitability to climb out of the hole. They have cut left and right and sold off everything left and right and they still have failed to stem the red ink as illustrated by the Death Watch series.

    As for judging GM by their cars, IMO it makes no difference. I actually like their cars but I won’t buy one for the simple reason that I am happy with the brands I have been buying (Honda Toyota). IMO its not that their cars suck its simply the false belief that if GM only made better cars everyone would flock back. This is hubris and the height of arrogance on the part of GM, Ford Chrysler, their management and employees etc.

    How in the hell could anybody assume that? That is certainly not true for anybody in the past so why would it be true now. Did former Ford owners flock back to Ford from GM after Henry finally updated their car line, instituted constant model year changes and added Mercury and Lincoln for upscale models. No they didn’t because people were happy with GM. So how can people assume people are going to ditch Toyota and Honda simply because GM and ford have a decent line up finally?

  • avatar

    @natredde

    GM is not your corner latte shop. It’s a huge undertaking, spanning continents. I’d say that the GMDW series has earned its right to exist for a variety of reasons:

    1. It’s proven to be quite prescient, in view of others who have taken corporate spin at face value.

    2. If all automakers were underperforming, we could claim the series is excessive, but we have automakers both small and soon to be larger than GM who have performed brilliantly during this same period. GM’s response has been that these other automakers are clueless, out of touch, lack insight into the American autobuyer’s psyche and don’t care about the climate, global warming, rising gasolilne prices or environmental awareness. Take your pick.

    3. It’s a supertanker, it’s really hard to turn, and if RF is right, they have been steaming ahead at full speed straight into uncharted waters, their backs turned against the direction of travel.

    The series is what convinced me that this site really was dedicated to The Truth about Cars, as RF is in this to make money, I’m pretty certain he could have attracted ad dollars by being a little less outspoken on the topic, he’s chosen not to, trusting that in the end, the truth will win.

    I think there’s room for another couple of hundred GMDW editorials, there’s definitely more than enough material – you couldn’t make it up, and (un)fortunately we don’t have to.

  • avatar
    shaker

    I predict that the GMDW could get into the four-figure range, with the inevitable government bailout…

  • avatar
    FromBrazil

    “What’s good for GM is good for the US.” Who was it that said that? We’ll see if this still holds true after the elections I guess. Would it be too cynical to think that a government bailout depends on whether GM has “donated” enough?

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    @shaker: if it’s going to be death by a thousand cuts, GM has over 800 more to go.

    A handful of great products isn’t enough to push back against the tsunami of mediocre ones ($3k back on the Pontiac G6, this weekend’s paper), along with a mountain of debt, an ever-increasing cost of raw materials, too many employees, a [Detroit 3] reliance on hit products which may not ever materialize, and finally the large number of dealerships which were just right for a company which had 50% of the US market long ago.

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    “That comment was not aimed at TTAC, but reflects a general attitude among a lot of uninformed buyers. Buyers that SOMEHOW deem a vehicle non-competitive no matter how many accolades it has won. Couple that with 165 different articles about “the death of GM” from ONE source and you may start to see things differently.”

    If you think it’s bad here, check out the article comments on the new Pontiac G8 at Edmunds.com. I’ve never seen so much negativity; it’s as if these people actively want someone to hate. Edmunds just wrote two gushing reviews of the car, but you could swear that they’d called it the next Sunfire from the temperament of their readership.

    It really is wearing to see a manufacturer try so hard to get it right, only to be panned for their efforts. When I first discovered sites like Autoextremist, I was convinced I’ve discovered truth amidst the drivel spooned out by the buff rags. After two years of that, I’m now convinced that there isn’t any truth. Everyone has their own slant. The question is, what do you want to read?

    To their credit, TTAC is closer to the middle than most. Given GM’s financial state, I’m not quite ready to claim that “Deathwatch” is an inappropriate moniker.

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    A lot (not all) of GM’s problem stem from these golden parachutes that upper management have. I don’t care what anyone says, these golden parachutes have done more damage than good. If you knew that, whatever the result of your work, you were going to get financially set for the rest of your life, what is your incentive to make sure you do a good job?

    Many people say that GM is a big ship which needs more time to turn around. GM has been in turnaround for 5 years, exactly how much time is needed? Nissan turned a profit in under a year and was fully turned around in 3 years and all of this was done with upper managers’ job on the line, too (Nissan fails, we ALL fail). Like GM, Nissan had loads of sub-divisions, branches around the world and a bloated bureaucracy. So, I’m sorry, that isn’t a valid excuse.

    I think, ultimately, it’s the sense of entitlement which has caused GM’s downfall:

    UAW’s entitlement to benefits with zero flexiblity.
    Management’s entitlement to golden parachutes, regardless of performance.
    GM’s belief that their market share was what they were entitled to.
    GM’s sense of entitlement to be regarded as a maker of reliable vehicles without feeling the need to prove it.

    Now with regards to this VEBA, I agree that this is a disaster waiting to happen. And the sad thing is, I feel sorry for the rank and file who are entrusting their future to people with a track record in corruption. How would you feel if you reached retirement age and the following conversation happened?

    Retiree: Great! My working life over! Now, if you’ll pay me my pension and benefits, I’ll be on my way.
    UAW President: Sorry, there’s no money for your pension and benefits.
    Reitree: What do you mean?!
    UAW President: Well, due to a mixture of mis-management, embezzling and neptotism, we lost the lost! Sorry! We tried out best!
    Retiree: Oh no! What am I going to do?! I’ve got to carry on working! And you’ve lost your pension and benefits, too!
    UAW President: Oh no. I said there was no money for YOUR pension!
    (UAW President jumps in his car and drives off)
    Retiree: Is he driving a Lexus……?!

  • avatar
    frontline

    Did anyone notice that Nissan is constantly trimming the fat . They have been very profitable as of late yet they are still cutting overhead. Just last week they streamlined their US design team. I’m impressed.

  • avatar
    Skooter

    “Just last week they streamlined their US design team. I’m impressed.”

    Yes. It’s only their dealers who struggle mightily due to point saturation. Deals start at invoice and go down from there. Doesn’t help either that their pick up and large SUV are the most gas guzzling in their respective class.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    With the benefit of the hindsight I get from reading these comments again, the fact that no one knows the details is very disturbing. Making it up as we go along is always disastrous. But, does anyone remember a moribund Ford, with zero showstoppers in 1985, introducing one pre-eminent product-the Taurus- and within a decade was the world’s most profitable company. I was lucky enough to be at FMCC during those heady days, and let me tell you that I have never worked in such a contagiously optimistic corporate atmosphere- fueled by peer criticism, not top-down edicts. I can truthfully say that in 1992-5 Ford was competing with the entire world….and winning. It was company-wide. It can be done again, but everybody has to be on board, and win-or lose- together.

  • avatar
    frontline

    Skooter:
    I am so with you on that ! My local Nissan points are 11 minutes apart drive time! It still puts a lump in my throat when I think it could be my 5 mil invested in one of those points.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    natredde,

    One of the recurrent themes on TTAC seems to be how worthless some of these “COTY” awards turn out to be.

    And COTY awards are given without consideration to reliability… which is something consumers have come to prize very highly indeed. The Malibu might be a great car but the consumer won’t consider it “reliable” without considerable history.

    As for the general attitude of uninformed buyers…

    IF (big IF, there) the new GM products are the equal of Honda and Toyota for reliability, durability and customer satisfaction, as Bob Lutz claims, it’s still going to take years for this improvement to be demonstrable to people who take it seriously.

    Even with improved reliability, dealer and manufacturer stonewalling on common problems – those stories get around, too.

    I’m one who’s going to wait and it’s not because I’m uninformed; I’m justifiably skeptical. And I don’t know how long I’ll wait, either, as I’m not sure I’ll trust the standards of the current GM buyer to reflect the standard I expect the car to satisfy.

    As an example, if you read reviews on Edmunds (I find them highly entertaining and informative), you’ll often read about domestic brake rotors wearing out well within the warranty period but “that’s a wear item,” so it’s never covered.

    Well, OK, I guess I would accept that… once upon a time. We used to do pads every 25K miles and rotors at every 50K and I thought it was OK. This was on Volvos, which I dearly loved and thought were satisfying in every way.

    Then we started buying Toyotas (Volvo didn’t make a minivan – big mistake). My Toyotas run on their first pads well beyond 60K miles, possibly routinely to 100K and the rotors don’t go until you hit get well beyond 100K, either. It’s not just the considerable savings, there are plenty of things I enjoy more than hanging around the brake shop waiting for my car.

    So, I look at the Edmunds reviews and I have to wonder if GM owners cheerfully tolerate levels of reliability and service that Toyonda owners would find unacceptable.

    TTAC also published warranty expense charts a while back. Toyota and Honda lead the pack, with levels half those of GM and Ford. Somehow, I just don’t believe the domestics magically and dramatically improve when the warranty period runs out.

  • avatar
    Queensmet

    Let’s get back to the original editorial.

    The GM/UAW contract.

    The “excessive” wages and benefits that the UAW receives is I guess at an end. Finally, one the concerns that Mr. Farago has been addressed. I am surprised though that he was only concerned that GM does not have the money to fund the VEBA. He missed one importaant point. The UAW new hires that may begin to be hired in a year or 2 will not be able to afford teh cars they help make. Being competetive won’t help much if your own employees can’t afford your product.

  • avatar
    Luther

    A Labor Union is just a Government-guns/jails-backed “Legal” Mafia…A government’s mini-me.

    Is this right? About 6 retired UAW for every employed UAW members. No wonder the wages are going lower…That is a lot of, um, overhead to carry…Almost slave-like.

  • avatar

    Its not the pensions, its the retiree healthcare costs, The real solution is simply to switch the retirees to medicare. Howerver they don’t want medicare, they want to retain their excellent private health insurance (GM Paid) interstingly enough these same people contend national health care is the answer.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    So many legal issues here today. Maybe JB can chime in on this one. Have all the people who know the VEBA deal been forbidden to trade GM stock until the deal is made public?

    If not, how is that fair to the other investors? Furthermore, what does that mean to their compensation packages? Are they using this as an excuse to get more cash rather than useless stocks and options?

    Something is ooohhhh so smelly in Michigan.

  • avatar
    folkdancer

    these same people contend national health care is the answer

    Actually S. Lin it probably is the answer. The national systems in many other countries take the health care burden off the expenses of the manufactures and businesses in their countries. We quickly look at the taxes paid in countries with national health care systems and think we don’t want to pay those kind of tax rates but we in the U.S. fail to add our low taxes and the high medical costs our whole system does pay. I bet we pay more overall.

    I believe that 1 out of every 3 dollars we pay in medical costs goes to the insurance companies.

    Finally before you think government is inefficient stop to think of how many civil servants earn the amounts of money paid to insurance executives and I don’t know of any CSs with golden parachutes.

  • avatar

    Folkdancer, my point is the crushing medical expenses of the retired GM work force would disappear tomorrow if they in fact used the available free (to GM) national health plan that is available to them right now, Medicare.

    They (retirees) don’t want it they want their current excellent gold plated private health plan which is breaking GM’s back. Its not the current workers its the retirees healthcare that is breaking GM. Toyota also pays for private health insurance for their US workforce but not for their retirees.

    People somehow have this notion that a national health care plan will have the same coverage and benefits etc that the best private medical care can offer. However, whenever they are offered a national government health plan like the VA or Medicare, people go running and complaining.

    Its as if my company provides a Mercedes Benz for a company car and then assuming that if the government buys everyone a car that I will still get a car like a Mercedes. I won’t.

    I am not arguing for or against a national health plan but if it comes to pass it will resemble the VA or Medicare more than the excellent coverage that the UAW retirees currently enjoy.

    That is what I find ironic in the clamoring for a national health plan by the UAW and or their retirees.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    That`s so surprising. The rants and discussions about who is going belly up and who is having a golden parachute are so similar to ones I have just read about Zander and Motorola, Inc. Or the ones about Iphone . Or Microsoft`s tribulations on obscene flirtation with Nokia to infest their Symbian phones with Bill Gates nightmare-software. Or Kodak. You see, American companies have never been strong on technology or fit and finish, that`s why they have always been counting on stand-out `designs` with hit or miss attitude. one product-one company. No wonder Toyota in reality has more models than all US big 3 combined. Or all us electronic companies have less products than a single Sony company. GM is just so big that`s its agony can hardly pass by unnoticed. You see, no matter how hard have they tried to pretend to be good, they always fail, if not applying fair game rules. Thought rebadging german Opel Astra could work? didn`t. Thought fit and finish was only a caprice of rich? didn`t work. Thought regrilling would save money? didn`t work. Thought playing on patriotic feelings with ads ,yet selling korean ones would work? didn`t! Thought importing cheap labour force, and engineers would save money? Well, in the end it didn`t, as those …….non-locals decreased demands for quality and thus competitiveness. No fair game? Then go push up daisies!

  • avatar
    geeber

    Sherman Lin: People somehow have this notion that a national health care plan will have the same coverage and benefits etc that the best private medical care can offer. However, whenever they are offered a national government health plan like the VA or Medicare, people go running and complaining.

    Bingo, we have a winner!

    Anyone who has spent time in Europe actually talking to Europeans will note that virtually all Europeans who can afford to do so supplement their government coverage with private insurance.

    People also forget that one reason unions were less than enthusiastic about then-First Lady Hillary Clinton’s national healthcare proposal was because it didn’t offer benefits as generous as their current plans.

  • avatar
    MPLS

    The National Legal and Policy Center is a thinly disguised anti-union front. They are not a reliable source of information about UAW or organized labor in general. Also, the supposed “union bosses” referred to above are democratically elected officials.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    MPLS,

    I call Bullshit.

    The NLPC is admittedly anti-union – therefore not disguised. Furthermore, fighting union power and influence is only one of their many activities.

    Hugo Chavez was elected democratically (at least once). If your comment is meant to shine a positive light on union leadership, it won’t pass the sniff test.

    If you want to defend the unions or discredit their foes, you will have to do better.

  • avatar
    MPLS

    Landcrusher :
    February 27th, 2008 at 12:17 am

    MPLS,

    I call Bullshit.

    “The NLPC is admittedly anti-union – therefore not disguised. Furthermore, fighting union power and influence is only one of their many activities. ”

    The NLPC “other activities” that you allude to all all right wing politics. They have a partisan agenda but there websites tries to create the impression they just care about “ethics” and “public good”. An organization is not a good source for information about what they clearly view as “evil”. It appers slanted to me you use them as a reference and attempt create the impression that that represents fair and balanced journalism.

    “Hugo Chavez was elected democratically (at least once). If your comment is meant to shine a positive light on union leadership, it won’t pass the sniff test.”

    My point was not to “shine a positve light on union leadership.” Union leadership within the UAW and outside it often seems incompetent to me. Bosses are not elected. Did you elect your boss at work( presuming you are not yourself the boss). This descprition of union leadership is, in my opinion, unfairly perjorative and misleading.

    “If you want to defend the unions or discredit their foes, you will have to do better.”

    You are correct Landcrusher and two points. I am a proud and active union member myself who does attemtp to defend the labor movment. Also, I will certainly “have to do better” if I want to change any minds on this blog.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    MPLS,

    When it comes to bosses, I vote with my feet. I have been my own boss, but figured out I was really working for the government. I plan to go back to work for someone else and let them play with Uncle Sugar and the 50 dwarves. I will make more money without having to spend so much on lawyers and accountants who don’t know their jobs worth a flip. If you think your boss is a pain in the butt, try dealing with KPMG. They treat you like crap, and you get to pay them!

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    “To expand on your CTS example, it has won MT COTY, received a pick over the 2008 3-series and 2008 C-Class from Consumer Reports, IIHS top pick, CNET technology COTY along with numerous design, safety and performance accolades. The specs and options mirror a 5-series with a price that starts $10,000 less. Cadillac is also at the top of the 2007 J.D. Power Dependability Survey behind only Buick and Lexus, which are tied for first place. ”

    …and not gained them one half of a percent of market share over their competition.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Seth Parks, United States
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Kyree Williams, United States