By on February 13, 2012

With their campaign to organize foreign auto plants seemingly in the toilet, UAW President Bob King is embarking on a new task – creating “a movement for social justice”.

The goal of the movement will be to wrest control of America from King’s foes, “right-wing Republicans” and “one-percenters”. King made the speech at a gathering for UAW Local 651 while commemorating the anniversary of the 1937 Sit Down Strike (or clutching onto the last instance of the UAW being relevant to American society).

King urged the UAW and others to target General Electric, with the Detroit News reporting on this delightful scene

“It is morally wrong — it is absolutely wrong — that they make billions and billions and billions of dollars and pay not a single penny in taxes,” King said, his veins bulging as his voice grew hoarse from shouting. “Enough is enough. We’re the 99 percent who want 100 percent fairness for everyone.”

What do you say B&B? Is it time for a UAW Death Watch? With the UAW’s attempts to unionize in the South seemingly going down the toilet, a sequence of embarrassing publicity stunts and a dwindling base to collect union dues from, it might be the beginning of  the end for America’s most annoying labor union.

 

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66 Comments on “UAW Planning A “Movement For Social Justice” – Is It Time For A UAW Death Watch?...”


  • avatar
    Omnifan

    The UAW death watch ship sailed 75 years ago. Accelerated greatly starting in 2008.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      If it’s a death watch, it will be similar to watching a 38-45 year old work until retirement. Because that’s about the age of the youngest UAW member in a North American final assembly plant.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        I think the death watch started in earnest in Dec 2010. They failed to get “card check” through the Congress in 09/10 when they had control of the House and Senate. Obamacare took all the energy that Dems could muster and card check fell by the wayside.

        Card check was the only hope of organizing the transplants and expanding the union membership. Now it’s just a long slow fade as partners of the Detroit 3.

        In the old days, a UAW autoworker almost never quit, as the possibility of finding a higher paying job was minimal. If the economy recovers, some of the Tier 2 wage folks may actually be able to do that.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    And here I thought the UAW were all about building better American cars.

    Silly me.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    I understand why one might ask if the UAW will be with us much longer – but not based on what King said.

    A movement for social justice is exactly what all unions need to do. Unions are weak precisely because they only cared about their members and not social justice for others. (IOWs they should have been increasing membership – might be too late now) I would say this is a sign of the UAW attempting to become relevant, again.

    AFL-CIO is trying to appeal to younger people, and to people sympathetic to the occupy movement. It might be the start of union resurgence.

    I’m interested in why you think the UAW is the most annoying of unions?

    I think I can safely give your articles a pass in the future.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “Unions are weak precisely because they only cared about their members and not social justice for others.”

      I have my doubts that sort of message will play well with the existing membership. They want benefits and job security for themselves; it isn’t about philanthropy or saving the world.

      • 0 avatar
        Dynamic88

        I think that’s right. But the UAW (well pretty much all unions) are going to have to branch out if they are to survive.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “But the UAW (well pretty much all unions) are going to have to branch out if they are to survive.”

        Sure, they need to branch out. But as would a company, they need to pursue areas that are compatible with the existing organization.

        “Social justice” has a strong leftist connotation. Blue collar workers are often not particularly leftist — they want benefits, but they aren’t a bunch of bleeding hearts — so that could be a problem.

        They should have changed the name and expanded into other industries. But with the demise of heavy manufacturing companies with large labor forces, this could be next to impossible. The path of the US economy is inevitably going to weaken them; the union may as well try to peddle buggy whips on a 21st century car lot.

      • 0 avatar
        Dynamic88

        The UAW has tried to expand in the past, w/o a great deal of success.

        But expansion isn’t just a matter of getting more membership paying dues. The AFL-CIO is trying a political strategy of getting people involved in causes -union member and non-member alike – as opposed to just cutting a check to their favorite candidate.

        Richard Trumka said -

        “What we are now focused on is doing a couple of things differently,” Trumka said. “In the past, we would build our structure six to eight months before the election,” he added. “Now we’re not going to do that. We’re going to focus our resources on building a structure that has total fidelity towards America’s working people, both union and non-union working people. We’ll do it 12 months a year, so they’ll be able to transition from electoral politics, to advocacy, to accountability with no effort. And it will continue to build greater strength for workers after the election and in between elections.”

        It makes sense for unions to reach out to OWS people, even though most aren’t union members. They’re going to need people to vote certain ways on certain issues, and there isn’t enough UAW membership to carry the day by themselves. What King is doing is probably part of this new strategy.

        This would have been apparent to the author of this article were he actually interested in union activities.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “The AFL-CIO is trying a political strategy of getting people involved in causes”

        That’s fine, but I wouldn’t assume that it’s going to work.

        We’ve seen this in business, too, with companies trying to expand by broadening their horizons into new products and services. But more often than not, they aren’t very good at it, and the efforts fail.

        It makes sense to tie into populism if at all possible, but I don’t see how that’s possible. OWS isn’t really much of a movement — it isn’t well organized, and most of the rhetoric doesn’t suit either major political party, so there isn’t much traction to be gained there.

        The union is selling a product that fewer and fewer people want to buy. This is a structural change — the nature of work is itself changing — that leaves little room for unions in a modern United States. I don’t think that there is anything that can halt this process of erosion.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      There is a lot of truth in what you’re saying. A union that only fights for its narrow self interest is not going to garner much public sympathy. In order for unions to be meaningful again they need to fight for their own self interest AND the interest of all working class people.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “Is it time for a UAW Death Watch?”

    The union has belonged on some sort of medical watch for quite awhile. It’s a bit soon to put them into the hospice, but the path is fairly obvious.

    Ironically, the bailout that people like to howl about sealed their fates. The UAW is never going to recover from the leverage that they lost as a result of it.

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    In the mid-80s I went to college an oil pump’s throw away from where the sit-down strikes occurred in Flint; those plants still existed while I was there and were largely unchanged from their appearance in the 1930s.

    Nothing is left on that site, save for a roadside marker. It has all been scraped off the face of the earth.

    Even the UAW Local 599 hall in Flint (once home to the largest local in the country) is going up for auction next month:

    http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2012/02/plans_announced_for_auction_of.html

    That pretty much sums it up!

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    UAW and unions in general = Morons

    Yes, the plutocracy of Wall Street and global financial banks really have Deeply Captured (capitalized for a reason) all branches of U.S. Government via unlimited (and now, thanks to the SCOTUS, which views the giving of money in limitless amounts by secret sources as akin to constitutionally protected free speech), and they’re going to continue to get government and regulators to continue to fix the rules and interfere even more with what once resembled free markets in order to game the system to concentrate even more wealth in their few hands – aka say goodbye to rapidly shrinking middle class while you still can, because the have/have not crack up boom is here.

    Ironically, the unions used this same strategy, when they held political muscle, to enrich themselves (especially their leadership) at the cost of the “poor working people & consumers” that they now claim to rally behind.

    It’s not okay for the financial elite to shove it up the middle class and working poor’s arse, which they are doing as they suckle on the teet of the government while paying bonuses to the imbeciles that work on Wall Street, but it was okay for the UAW (and other unions) to price gouge and accept shitty work ethos when they had that power.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    To Omnifan: This man’s absurd hysteria does nothing for any labor movement. Perhaps he should consider how Japanese labor representatives work with employers to make good products. Or perhaps her should consider that companies have a right to make “billions and billions”, and maybe he has a right to earn $.25. That appears to be what his comments are worth.
    I worked for very good boss once. He many millions every year. He was worth every penny: yes, he was that good. He gave jobs to innumerable people and supported their families. I made considerably less. Guess what: I was worth considerably less. That’s the way life is. And it is all perfectly fair.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      You nailed it. I cringe every time I hear words like “social justice” and “fairness” out of guys like Bob King. Fairness has nothing to do with this. The UAW workers just want more without actually earning it. King’s either a socialist who’s willing to screw over his constituency so he can put those evil “One Percenters” in their place, or just another self-serving politician who will say/do anything to increase his own power/influence/wealth. Same goes for Obama et. all.

      Take a good look at the politicians and power brokers on both sides of the aisle, along with the greedy do-nothings they represent, and you’ll see that there’s very little hope for our future as a country.

      • 0 avatar
        joe_thousandaire

        I cringe whenever anyone uses the words “social justice” and “fairness” because they are inevitably followed by someone’s big, self-righteous “us vs. them” speech.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    Why would the UAW be America’s most annoying union? The police unions around the country are far, far, far worse. In terms of generous benefits and retirement packages, the police unions have it sewn up. The UAW is not even close.

    • 0 avatar
      jeanpierresarti

      I cannot agree more and it is a shame that many of us are blinded to that fact. The PD/FD unions are so damn good at tugging at the heart strings of the “first responders you can do no wrong” crowd. Last time I checked being a cop or fireman is voluntary in this country.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Government is the last refuge of the unions.

        At the federal, state and local levels, government workers have set up their Bastille, clinging desperately to their union membership and many of the fringe benefits that go along with such status that a majority working in the private sector are not so privileged/worthy to enjoy.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      I live in Ohio where the police/fire/teachers unions pulled out all the stops to defeat the collective bargaining reforms on the ballot a few months ago. The managed to convince a majority of the electorate that their children would suffer and their house would burn down if the public employee unions lost the ability to extort pay/benefits that are even more exorbitant than they already receive. It was a disgrace.

      Of course Gov. Kasich and the state GOP were stupidly arrogant to think they could beat such major concessions out of the union. So now they’ll either start cutting jobs altogether or the state will continue to go bankrupt. Everyone loses.

      • 0 avatar
        TokyoPlumber

        We’re dealing with similar issues up here in Canada.

        Caterpillar recently announced the closure of a locomotive factory in London, Ontario. The factory workers, represented by the CAW (Canadian Autoworkers Union), were asked to accept massive pay cuts (ie, of up to 50% in most cases). The workers refused and a lock-out commenced. Roughly a month later Caterpillar announced that the factory was to be closed. Speculation is that most of the work will be moved to a new Caterpillar facility in Muncie, Indiana (where non-union employees will receive wages on par with the Caterpillar offer rejected by the union employees in London).

        While the Caterpillar lock-out was underway the police in London agreed to an almost 12% wage increase over four years. The firefighters’ union has since advised the city of London that they expect an equivalent deal for their new contract.

        The story is a common one across North America. Unions representing workers in private sector / publicly traded manufacturing are losing ground due to competition from non-union and low cost country manufacturing. Public sector (government) unions, on the other hand, seem to be as strong as ever.

  • avatar

    I could have sworn the UAW received billions (or at least millions) in union dues and paid not one cent in taxes, so this seems like an unwise idea …

    D

  • avatar
    Monty

    Isn’t it time for corporate America and unions to set aside the adversarial positions and work together for the good of the shareholders, union members and country? To find a middle ground that isn’t poisoned by the rhetoric of the extremes? To share the profits?

    Maybe I’m naive and optimistic, but if all partners have more at stake, it seems to make a lot of sense to work together to solve the problems instead of digging further into their entrenched positions and costing each other profits and bigger wages.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      No, because that’s COMMUNISM!!! Or fascism. Or some other -sim that the guys I hang out with at the sports bar/coffee shop/golf course don’t like.

    • 0 avatar
      Rob Finfrock

      It will never happen, because joining together for the “common good” runs counter to human nature. In the end, we’re a very competitive and arrogant race, each of us looking to provide for our own at the expense of others.

      History shows that societies can rally around a common goal for a short period of time — America in WWII comes to mind — but in the end, there will always be someone in power who will corrupt that goodwill (and the money and control it brings) for their own purposes. It’s just the way we are, and there’s really no sense in trying to change it.

      • 0 avatar
        peteo

        Looking out for our own good doesn’t have to mean at the expense of others,what a ridiculous thing to say

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        “It will never happen, because joining together for the “common good” runs counter to human nature”

        Not true, not at all. If it were, we wouldn’t have any kind of multiperson social structures, or if we did they’d be much more loosely federated. Instead it’s quite common to see humans in extremis form into interdependent social units.

        Everything from bridge clubs to Bloods and Crips to the modern nation state is a counterexample.

      • 0 avatar
        Rob Finfrock

        This my point: Regardless of why or how many people might join forces for an altruistic goal, it won’t stay altruistic forever. Inevitably, someone will rise up with the motive and means to subvert it for their purposes.

        A gang leader dictates how much money (or from “other” means) the other Bloods or Crips should give him… and, until he gets his ass shot off in a gang war, that price will always increase.

        Someone will decide the bridge club should only meet at their home – or anywhere but their home – and Patsy should bring all the refreshments.

        The Idiot King wants more UAW members so their dues can pad his pockets, simple as that. To talk of “social justice” is utter bullshit and he knows it.

        Anyone who doesn’t believe this is the way the world works, really should read “Animal Farm” again. (Or hey, send me $50, because I of course have only your best interests in mind!)

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        ……This my point: Regardless of why or how many people might join forces for an altruistic goal, it won’t stay altruistic forever…..

        That is a very true statement…just wait until Google moves into the next stage of maturity…the profiteers will become prostitutes with all that personal information…you can bet on that!

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      Uh, forcing shareholders to take all the risk but “share” the reward with workers IS extremist rhetoric. It is also extremist to refer to unions as “partners” in a business.

      The “middle ground” of which you speak is everyone getting what they bargained for. That means employees get paid as promised, investors get the leftover profit or loss, and unions – which are a separate business altogether – can fend for themselves.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        In what universe do you live in where the employees of a firm hold no personal risk of the firm going under? This must be some new branch of microeconomic theory with which I’m not familiar. There are an enormous amount of frictional costs involved in finding a new employer and these are compounded when all of one’s co-workers are dumped onto the job market simultaneously. An employee of GM or Chrysler certainly bears more financial risk than a person working for a company less likely to unexpectedly go under in the next decade.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “forcing shareholders to take all the risk but “share” the reward with workers IS extremist rhetoric. It is also extremist to refer to unions as “partners” in a business.”

        That is the very mentality that encourages unionism.

        Companies tend to get the unions that they deserve. Don’t expect the workers to respect management if management makes a practice of disrespecting the workers.

  • avatar
    geeber

    If the UAW’s movement does get off the ground, it will ultimately run into the same obstacle that the Occupy movement did – namely, when you tally all of the price tags attached to the demands, you’ll discover that you need more than the dreaded 1 percent to pay for it.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      If you seized the total net worth of the Forbes 400, you would cover the US Federal deficit for about a year, maybe a little less. If you seized the total net worth of the next 400, you would only go a few months at best (And that’s assuming the next 400 were all worth what #400 was worth). Reality is a bitch.

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    I wonder if he includes John Edwards (est $50 million) and Bill Clinton (est $80 million) in that 1%? How about the Hollywood elites and the recording industry and their scandalous accounting practices? Usually this stuff is a dog whistle for Republican culpability, avoiding the stubborn fact that many a Democrat and liberal have enriched themselves. Oh, and how about the UAW’s two tier wage and benefits agreements? Two Americas indeed.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      It’s the same issues of cognitive dissonance that the Tea Party faces when certain of their members asked how they can reconcile their beliefs with people on the conservative side of the aisle who are so very willing to stomp over their rights.

      Most of the people who support the Occupy actually do have a significant axe to grind vis a vis people like Edwards, Clinton or the “liberal elite”. They feel they’re wholly unrepresented, and are concerned about OWS being co-opted by neoliberals in the same way that the Tea Party has been eaten by neoconservatism.

      It’s funny, or sad, that ground-level OWS and TP people probably have more in common with each other than with their erstwhile political “leaders”.

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        It’s funny, or sad, that ground-level OWS and TP people probably have much in common with each other. They’ve all been screwed, just by different means. For example, sold worthless degrees vs made to look like fools by meeting their financial obligations.

        And if the more outre OWS’ers weren’t busy crapping on police cars (or like activities – activities I can’t recall the TP demonstrators engaging in), they could have made common cause with the TP on people like the banksters – the ones who run companies that are too big to fail but have been proven to be too stupid to succeed. (The only thing I regret about BofA stock a few years ago is that I didn’t sell even sooner and then go short.)

        But OWS and TP are peripheral to what King is about. Love to hear his justification of the two tier pay system and how the UAW benefits society at large. And do you suppose that the President’s BFF Jeffrey Immelt is quaking in his bespoke boots now that King named GE as a target?

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        Tea Party groups didn’t just protest. They turned “primary” into a verb. They defeated Sen. Robert Bennett because of his bailout vote and helped elect Sen. Marco Rubio instead of porkulus supporting Charlie Crist. Now Republicans in safe seats worry that they will be primaried if they get too far out of line.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        “And if the more outre OWS’ers weren’t busy crapping on police cars.”

        I’ve thought for awhile now that OWS is the best PR campaign a New York banker could possibly ask for.

        It doesn’t matter what your sins were when the face of the prosecution is doped up college slobs.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    Hey, how much does Bob King make and what is his effective tax rate?

    A quick internet search says his base salary is $160k, which is pretty good, but I suspect the benefits package is also pretty significant.

  • avatar

    1937 is not coming back.

    If Ford goons tried to fire on hapless workers at the Rouge the way they did back then it’d be all over the web in five minutes.

    The news networks and talk radio would be all over it in the next five minutes.

    The protests at your neighborhood Ford store would begin not long after and the stock price would drop.

    Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Neither corporations nor unions can hide the way they could back in 1937.

    The UAW would do well to remember that and turn down the “us vs. them”.

    You can’t turn it completely off…ultimately the company has the $$ and the bargaining unit wants it…thereby an automatic adversarial relationship.

    But the company also needs to build vehicles…and the bargaining unit needs jobs…thereby an opportunity for cooperation.

    In 2012, being cooperative rather than combative would go far in reestablishing the UAW as a legitimate spokesperson for the workers, and a model for other unions.

    Otherwise let the death watch begin.

  • avatar
    dwford

    As one of the 53% (that pay taxes), I would like the other 47% to contribute. Here I am having to pay into the government for taxes this year while co-workers around me are celebrating $7,000 refund checks due to the earned income tax credit. They live 364 days on what they make, then get a gigantic windfall. For what?

    • 0 avatar

      “Everybody’s equal… Just don’t measure it” -Bad Religion

      I’m tired of people complaining “I pay mah durn taxes, why don’t these freeloaders!?” You want everyone to pay the same taxes, fine, PAY everyone the same amount of money every year! Buh-Bu-B-b-BUT THAT THERE’s COMMUNISM!

      Federal taxes are paid more by the wealthier, but the lion’s share of STATE taxes are paid for by the working class. You completely discount the fact that taxes take a bigger bite out of a working man’s salary than they do out of the ‘rich’ who can afford it in this country, who didn’t earn their money in most cases, they got it by being grown in the right womb at the right time or through connections their mommy and daddy bought them.

      You have imbecillic morons in the Tea Party and Republican base championing a FLAT TAX that would RAISE THEIR TAX BURDEN. They’re too ignorant to read their own tax return to see what their effective tax rate is this year! I’m glad the government started pointing out exactly what your “effective tax rate” is in the past year or two when you file your taxes. These people supporting the Republican party are not rich, will never be rich, and yet, they’re arguing for regressive taxation because they have no intelligence or reading comprehension whatsoever. They just scream and shout and piss and moan and cry and follow whatever their talking heads on Faux News tell them to do.

      /rant

      In the past, in this country, you could go to work (ONE BREADWINNER) and make enough money to live comfortably. Buy a house, save money for a car, possibly help put Junior through college and eventually retire with enough money to enjoy your “Golden Years.” Good luck doing that now, with pension obligations being cut by corporations since the 90′s and the resulting “savings” being booked as profits so that crooked CEOs could pay themselves massive bonuses (book called The Retirement Heist, read it) and dumping everyone onto the public safety nets.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        “SexCpotatoes: Federal taxes are paid more by the wealthier, but the lion’s share of STATE taxes are paid for by the working class.”

        The UAW and several Democrats have been pushing for an increase in the federal income tax, so that is why discussion has centered on that tax. If it unveils the uncomfortable fact that a lot of people aren’t paying it, well…too bad.

        The upper-middle class and the rich pay the lion’s share of taxes in most states. A big problem with California, for example, was that a few high earners left or started earning a lot less when the economy collapsed.

        Incidentally, most upper-middle class people and rich people are “working class,” in that they have to work for a living. They didn’t inherit their money, and they don’t have enough saved up to leave the labor force completely. The fact that they aren’t digging ditches or fastening fenders on to Silverados does not mean that what they do on a daily basis does not constitute “work.”

        “SexCpotatoes: You completely discount the fact that taxes take a bigger bite out of a working man’s salary than they do out of the ‘rich’ who can afford it in this country, who didn’t earn their money in most cases, they got it by being grown in the right womb at the right time or through connections their mommy and daddy bought them.”

        Your perceptions are out of date. Most rich people didn’t inherit it. Less than 10 percent of Americans millionaires got their money by inheriting it. The percentage of rich people who inherited their wealth has been decreasing since 1989.

        Read The Millionaire Next Door to find out who, exactly, is rich and how they got that way. Hint – people who LOOK rich aren’t necessarily rich. And they didn’t inherit it from daddy. Anyone who believes otherwise doesn’t know what he or she is talking about.

        “SexCpotatoes: These people supporting the Republican party are not rich, will never be rich, and yet, they’re arguing for regressive taxation because they have no intelligence or reading comprehension whatsoever.”

        No, they are smart enough to realize that there aren’t enough rich people to pay for the spending advocated by the UAW, the various Occupy Movements and Congress. Therefore, they will be the next target.

        “SexCpotatoes: They just scream and shout and piss and moan and cry and follow whatever their talking heads on Faux News tell them to do.”

        As opposed to believing that taxing the rich will solve the problem, or that only rich people will end up paying higher taxes to support increased spending? Who is really stupid here?

      • 0 avatar

        I notice Geeber said *nothing* regarding my last paragraph. He or she can claim whatever they want, but the plain fact is that success is almost guaranteeed to the children of privilege in this country, and the facts don’t change no matter how many baseless assertions the neocons try to claim.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        And, I notice that you have done nothing to refute what I posted. You haven’t proven that “success is guaranteed to the children of privilege” in this country (sorry, but I can show you several examples where it isn’t just in the town where I live).

        I’ve also shown that your contention regarding how many currently rich people are that way because of an inheritance is simply incorrect.

        As for your last paragraph: “In the past, in this country, you could go to work (ONE BREADWINNER) and make enough money to live comfortably. Buy a house, save money for a car, possibly help put Junior through college and eventually retire with enough money to enjoy your “Golden Years.”

        Here’s the reply:

        That is because the years from 1945-80 were an anamoly. The United States was the only industrial power to emerge from World War II with our industrial base and military power intact.

        Thus, management could simply give in to union demands, as that was cheaper than taking a strike. Both sides preferred to take higher pay and benefits instead of investing in new processes or productivity improvements. That worked until the Germans and Japanese were on the feet again, but, by 1980, that game was over for the Americans.

        Regarding the rising cost of a college education – in 1960, the median annual tuition and fees at private law schools was $475; adjusted for inflation, that’s $3,419 in 2011 dollars. The median for public law schools was $204, or $1,550 in 2011 dollars.

        As a point of comparison, in 2009 the actual median tuition for a private law school was $36,000; doe the public law school, the median tuition for a resident student was $16,546. Costs for undergraduate degrees have experienced similar rates of increase during that time span.

        That increase wasn’t fueled by greedy CEOs or rich people. It happened during a time of increased federal aid and spending on higher education.

        The simple fact is that your contentions are incorrect. This may come as a shock, but these trends were not fueled by “Neocons” or Tea Party members or Fox News.

        What you’re really upset about is that it’s no longer 1955. Guess what, time moves on, and not everyone drives a Chevy, Ford or Plymouth, so the domestics and the UAW no longer have an oligopoly over the new-car market.

  • avatar
    George B

    The decision by the UAW to inject themselves into politics far outside of the auto industry will not end well. By choosing sides in the current political divide, they threaten to alienate customers from the opposite side. Insanely stupid move considering the relative profitability of light trucks vs. hybrid cars.

    I’m surprised that the US auto industry hasn’t actively tried to break the UAW. A telecom equipment manufacturer here in North Texas sold off their manufacturing to a contract manufacturer who, within one weekend, moved the equipment to another building in a different nearby city, locked out and fired every union worker, and hired a new workforce without union agitators. The car manufacturers are whimps by comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      The UAW has always been involved in politics. During the 1964 presidential race, Lyndon Johnson appeared in Detroit’s Cadillac Square with Henry Ford II on one side and Walter Reuther on the other, if I recall correctly. During the 1972 presidential race, the union worked very hard to head off a George Wallace victory in several Democratic primaries.

      This is really nothing new. The main difference is that, in the 1960s and early 1970s, the union operated from a position of strength. Today, this move smacks of desperation.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        Large employers do the same thing too, for that matter. I’m sure I’m not the only person here who gets the odd company-wide e-mail requesting donations to the “company employees’” PAC.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The funny part is just how stupid union leadership is. Attacking GE is ridiculous for the UAW. GE is in bed with the same politicians that are keeping the UAW alive. The only dumber political action possible would be the AFL-CIO attacking the Super Bowl, which they did. Fortunately for them, the ‘same team’ mass media didn’t report on it, or if they did at all, they focused on the Occupy angle, ignoring that the AFL-CIO paid the Occupiers $60 a foul head to louse up the place. Had the story been accurately reported, more people would have seen the unions for what they are.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        While GE is unarguably in bed with the current administration, I assure you than their brib–”influence” does not know party boundaries, or indeed the boundaries of shame, ethics, or taste. I grew up alongside the Hudson river, one of many public bodies of water that the company poisoned, and they unhesitatingly lobbied through a succession of Democrat and Republican lawmakers and governors (as well as spending millions misleading the voting public directly) to avoid having to pay for the cleaning of their mess.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        The even funnier (or more sad) part is how incompetent management of the Big 3 were in dealing with the incompetent union leadership when the sun was shining and hay was being made (I’m talking $12k to $20k profit per SUV/Truck hay days of the late 1990s and early 2000s), when the Big 3 agreed to do phenomenally stupid things like set up job banks (ultimately housing 10,000+ fully paid with benefits blackjack and checker players, tv watchers and book readers), or bow to keeping 9 money losing plants running under the threat of a strike at one profitable plant (Pontiac GMC/Chevy Truck City, anyone?).

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      “I’m surprised that the US auto industry hasn’t actively tried to break the UAW.” -George B

      Well think of it this way–if the UAW is weak and inept, why get rid of them and risk something worse taking their place?

    • 0 avatar
      ixim

      George, I agree with you about the stupidity of UAW politics. But, unless it was you who fired all those union workers, their misfortune was good for you…..how?
      PS – The two-tier pay; the failure to organize the transplant factories, etc. = the UAW’s twilight, anyway.

  • avatar
    peteo

    The unions days have come and gone.They had an important job back in the days of 15 hour work days, really unsafe work places(not the safety concerns expressed today like my co-worker smokes), small children working in factories,company goons enforcing work rules ect.The car companies suffered from all types of problems such as sorry designs produced by over paid workers,it’s as simple as that.And by the way Gov’t motors will start showing signs of going over the cliff again within about another 10 years.

  • avatar
    Bob

    Wow, people really hate unions! I like them.

  • avatar
    50merc

    The “social justice” stuff is a nostalgic echo of the Reuther days. It worked better before this country became a welfare state.

    The power of the UAW stemmed from the power of the Big Three oligopoly. For all practical purposes, Americans had to choose between Detroit automakers. Detroit had to accept UAW demands, but it could recover the cost in higher prices. When it became harder to pass higher costs on to consumers, the UAW entered a different ball game.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I’d prefer a death watch on the teacher’s unions, which I see as more dangerous than annoying. When you couch every demand as ‘for the children’, the public always caves.

    ‘Social justice’ isn’t defineable, attainable, or even desirable, because it always employs a standard that is not universally accepted.

    Why can’t the UAW just stick to the basics – working conditions, wages, benefits, and terms of employment? This is where unions are of real value.

  • avatar
    MrFixit1599

    I was at a GE plant in Houston installing a new production machine last week. There were 6 Chevy Volts in the “Green Lot”, parking reserved for efficient vehicles. 4 of them had temp tags on them. It was a very small plant (by GE standards), only employed 100 or so people. Apparently the GE employees are willing to pay for premium parking spaces.

  • avatar
    MrFixit1599

    If anything has killed the UAW it is OSHA (and greed). Union’s originally dealt with better working conditions. I work in industrial plants every day, and deal with OSHA violations alot, and have to resolve them. When I go into a UAW plant, on average, it takes 1.5 hours to do 1 hours worth of work compared to a non union shop. Add to that I have to be escorted and monitored the entire time, so that is a body that could be elsewhere doing a more important job. Quite frankly it drives me insane.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    For once, I actually agree with PCH.

    “Ironically, the bailout that people like to howl about sealed their fates. The UAW is never going to recover from the leverage that they lost as a result of i”.

    I think this has indeed been a part of what has weakened the UAW in recent years, amongst other reasons. And add to that, Bob King himself seems to be blind to reality and thus has found out the hard way that the transplant factories would tell him to bug off as they saw that they make as good a wage, or more than their UAW counterparts up north, but have it MUCH easier overall than their union counterparts.

    It does seem that the UAW, at the very least is in a slow death knell but when they actually die, who knows but the signs are definitely there and I would not be surprised if other unions for other industries are in the same similar fate.

  • avatar
    jdmcomp

    We can only hope………………


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