By on February 28, 2013

The UAW has been a bit luckless in its organizing efforts of foreign automakers in the U.S. Recent attempts to brand transplanted Asian and German automakers as human rights abusers have gone a bit over the heads of the targeted working masses. With that being a dud, the UAW is back to old-style organizing, and back at its old target, Nissan. The UAW has tried two times, two times it received a black eye in Smyrna, TN. The UAW is back to collect another shiner.

According to Reuters, the UAW met with Nissan workers “to discuss another organizing effort at the Japanese automaker’s first U.S. factory.” The meetings also included contract workers of Yates Services, “who are paid less than Nissan workers, according to UAW officials.” Says Reuters:

“The “information” meetings are an early step in bringing about a vote among workers at the Nissan plant in Smyrna. Most union elections are held once a majority of workers agree to allow one. Many union organizing efforts fail before a vote is held.”

Smyrna have twice refused the advances of the UAW.

  • A 1989 vote was 1,622 to 711.
  • In 2001, in an organizing drive led by King when he was the union’s chief organizer, Nissan workers rejected the UAW by a 2-to-1 margin.

After the 2001 vote, King said Nissan had “won round two” and said that “there will be round three and four.”

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76 Comments on “The UAW Is Whistling Dixie, Again...”


  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I can see some polarising comments on this one:)

    I think the UAW should sit down and look at the effectiveness of their so called struggles. Look at the unsustainable demands they have made in the past. They also contributed to the demise of the Big 3.

    Instead of the same old catch cry about the “rich” companies the unions should realise what damage they have done to them in the past.

    I think if they want to be at the table regarding any aspect of managing a business, then their affilliated “friends” should insure a company when it goes down.

    What I’m saying is the Unions have to dig into their pockets and help bailout a business. This should be law. They want input, then make them accountable.

    Why are they afraid of the “import” manufacturers? Rather than use their old ways of intimidation and fear unions should modernise their policies.

    I see nothing wrong with unions, but like horse they should be used differently now.

    • 0 avatar
      Yeah_right

      Yep. As hidden meat.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Claw

      As businesses in general (and especially not now) do not have such obligation to (retain) their workers, unionized or otherwise, helping to “bailout” the business is sheer folly.

      The unions need to change their strategy for sure, but being the safety net for a business in this manner… is just a crazy idea.

      The demise of the Big 3 had everything to do with the products they decided to put in the market; whatever contributions to this were the part of the workers is sheer propaganda. It was the fault of those companies not to restrain whatever inefficiencies the unions were creating.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    I’m confused about the ambivalence toward unions. The five day work week. Forty hours per week. Collective bargaining. People died to achieve these goals. Remember the Triangle Shirtwaist fire? Since Henry Ford decided to institute the $5 wage, I have yet to hear of a corporation that unilaterally increased wages because of productivity increases. I’m genuinely curious, without hostility, how the perception of unions became negative in just my lifetime. To my mind, for every Jimmy Hoffa there has been a corresponding Lincoln Savings, Enron or Hecla Mining. To blame the UAW for the automakers’ demise is to ignore massive mismanagement by the corporate board. Plus, in America, the lack of a true single-payer medical benefit puts the onus absorbed by all other western democracies on the manufacturers, making them health care providers that incidentally make automobiles. This has been addressed, partially, by adjustments made in bankruptcy, but hardly cured. I am not trying to insert any political viewpoint, just trying to understand the vehemence from the very people who have been the beneficiaries of these labor-management advances. Don’t you believe the average working stiff needs something to counter-balance the disparity in power vis-a-vis the modern corporation?

    • 0 avatar
      Rod Panhard

      Oh, that’s an easy one, really. Let me start with what Mr. Schmitt used as his leader:
      Recent attempts to brand transplanted Asian and German automakers as human rights abusers have gone a bit over the heads of the targeted working masses. .

      To say “over the heads’ implies that the potential union members don’t understand the value proposition. In fact, it’s just the opposite. They completely understand the value proposition from the unions and the perspective is “Why do I need yet another person to tell me what to do, AND I have to pay extra for that ‘privilege’.” I once worked at a TV station in the programming department. We had a guy from a big city TV station who got hired, and shortly thereafter, began to attempt to organize the engineers. Well, this is what they told me.

      Next up, those of us who have children and are educating them in a union school district know what happens when contracts are up for negotiation. It gets nasty when the union bosses issue their “work to rule” edicts as negotiations fail.

      Overall, much of what unions fought for is now covered by OSHA, minimum wage laws, the EPA, state licensing boards with regards to trades, etc. I really have no idea why unions exist in the US. Now, if the UAW wants to keep the doors open to their union halls, my suggestion is to follow the opportunity and set-up shop in China. Those workers NEED representation.

      • 0 avatar
        let_that_pony_gallop

        I second all of what Rod Panhard said. Modern unions have become nothing more than bullies, forcing people over to their viewpoints, and I think the UAW is the worst of them for that. As far as blaming the union for the downfall of Detroit, it defintaly was not thier fault, but their behavior did exacerbate the problems caused by the leadership in Detroit. Also as Rod said workers in China defintaly need representaiton of some sort.

      • 0 avatar
        jaje

        Complete agreement here. UAW now serves as little more than a tax on blue collar workers that serves to increase the cost of US union labor (making them globally uncompetitive and uncompetitive with non union shops who make the same take home wage) with little benefit as the major reasons for the need for unions were codified long ago leaving them to rest on their laurels, collect a paycheck, threaten strikes and other chest beating tactics of a bully.

        Once your normal union is in a company’s / organization’s bloodstream it’s a parasite that you have to almost kill the host to get rid of. You want to show me forward thinking allow the workers to vote to un-unionize.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “I’m confused about the ambivalence toward unions. The five day work week. Forty hours per week. Collective bargaining. People died to achieve these goals. Remember the Triangle Shirtwaist fire? Since Henry Ford decided to institute the $5 wage, I have yet to hear of a corporation that unilaterally increased wages because of productivity increases.”

      The non-union transplant workers have those things you mentioned without paying union dues. What incentive does someone have to join the UAW now that the union sold out for 2nd tier wages?

      Also, Detroit 3 line workers were rewarded for their productivity with really healthy profit sharing checks this year. Before someone states that was simply because the Union negotiated that bonus, the Union was against profit sharing plans. They didn’t WANT to be rewarded for productivity, they wanted guaranteed wage increases.

      Regardless, even at the non-union facilities, there are significant incentives and bonuses provided to workers for attendance and overall productivity.

      If workers at a plant can have the benefits without joining the union, why would they? The CAW has tried the same thing at the Honda plant in Alliston, ON and each time was unsuccessful. I’ve never heard from any of those workers that the company is holding them hostage. Unions in many ways have outlived their usefulness in Western manufacturing.

      • 0 avatar
        LuciferV8

        “Unions in many ways have outlived their usefulness in Western manufacturing.”

        Exactly.

        As much as I support the right to collective bargaining, I believe that the majority of these organizations now do more harm than good.

      • 0 avatar
        CobraJet

        My view, and mayby many other Americans, is that union labor represents angry, lazy, belligerent people who want to take, not give. The unions need a new image. They should sell their workforce as more skilled, better trained, highly productive. Of course the Unions would have to work hard to get their labor force up to those standards. If they did, maybe an auto company, or any other type of business would actually seek out union labor.

    • 0 avatar
      Conslaw

      @olddavid

      I basically agree with you regarding the value of unions, but in the case of the effort to organize the transplant operations, I think the UAW is delusional. This is nothing but a dog and pony show to placate a certain part of their base and to show them that they are doing something. IMHO, if the UAW wants to organize nonunion plants, they really have to rethink what they bring to the table, and a good place to start would be to cut dues to the bone.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      olddavid,

      I suggest that you stop regurgitating the union propaganda about all of the benefits that the unions falsely take credit for. This nonsense gets repeated so much that people think it’s true (much as I used to think that Henry Ford invented the automobile).

      Do your own homework (I have). Henry Ford instituted the 8-hour workday and the 5-day work week almost TWO DECADES before the UAW represented Ford workers.

      And other benefits such as health insurance were used as incentives to get women into the workforce during WWII.

      It seriously tests your credibility. Unions have done some good, but they have utterly failed to prevent the outsourcing of jobs as part of our globalized economy.

    • 0 avatar
      Yeah_right

      OldDavid, in the spirit of the genteel tone of your post, I’ll respond in kind.

      This is one man’s anecdote, but I believe it to be representative. I started my career as an engineer with one of the now bailed-out automakers and at that time they started you as a crew leader over UAW assemblers. Most were OK guys, trying to give an honest day’s work.

      But each crew had union enforcers. They believed they worked for the union, not the company, and took perverse pride in finding creative ways to screw the company. If an engineer picked up a wrench to help a mechanic, you got a time-wasting grievance for your trouble. If you asked someone to do something outside of the strict job description, you got a grievance. And if you attempted to use the discipline process for something like attendance, you got a reaction from union officials like you were pulling the heads off of kittens. The union’s role, from my perspective, was to protect every employee. And the more vile and reprehensible the employee, the harder the union would fight to protect them.

      So you spent your days struggling to figure out how to get things done that are done easily and effortlessly when the union is not actively impeding progress. Since I was a suit, they left me alone. If you were a member and crossed them by doing something outrageous like doing slightly more than the minimum job requirement, the enforcers would meet those guys in the parking lot after work to convince them. Sometimes the convincing required hospitalization and a reminder that the union knew where his family lived should the police become involved in their little “internal discussion.”

      I lasted a few years and finally quit – tired of the senseless, incessant conflict between groups that should be working together. I moved to the south to a factory that didn’t make autos. The employees, in general, are giving their best and actually appreciate being involved in finding ways to do things better.

    • 0 avatar
      mypoint02

      Without trying to start a huge political debate, I think the unions have done themselves a huge disservice by focusing their efforts more on electing certain candidates to office than the betterment of their members. Since the unions have aligned themselves almost exclusively with one party, they are turning off nearly half of the population simply because of their political alliances. Personally, I would be much more ambivalent about unions if they acted more as advocates for their trade and provided better opportunities for their members through training programs and the like rather than being political operatives.

      I also think that nowadays many people want to have a good working relationship with their company and their bosses. The “us against them” mentality of unions doesn’t exactly foster those relationships. Not to mention that this isn’t the early 1900s anymore. There are laws in place to protect workers. Things like the Triangle Shirtwaist fire would never happen these days. If Nissan treats their employees right, which by all accounts they do, the workers have little to gain and more to lose by joining forces with the UAW.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Right now the transplants are getting the benefits of UAW membership (mostly) without the cost and associated baggage that comes with being a member. And that will continue to be the case as long as the union survives. But should the UAW go he way of he dodo bird, those generous compensation packages the transplants enjoy will stagnate, only to be eaten away by inflation. Nissan knows that by keeping a good wage in place, the representation by a union is uneccesary. But they only do so to keep the union at bay, not out of any altruistic feelings…

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @golden2husky…..Its comforting to know that at least one person here,understands the situation perfectly.

      The people in this buisness, be it the UAW/CAW the transplant management,or the workers in the plant. All of them are very much aware that the big bad UAW wolf is standing at thier door.

      Its seem that those outside the industry,can’t quite grasp those simple facts,that you have pointed out.

    • 0 avatar
      pgcooldad

      Agreed 100%!

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Now that the UAW sold out to 2 tier wages, most of the transplant workers are now making more money than the UAW workers hired from the last few years forward.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      “But should the UAW go he way of he dodo bird, those generous compensation packages the transplants enjoy will stagnate, only to be eaten away by inflation.”

      False. ‘Those generous compensation packages’ are how you remain competitive as an employer, just as in any industry.

      You’d think that without unions OSHA, the Department of Labor, and competitive wages would all just disappear. Just how do other industries survive without unions? Where are the abuses?

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        gslippy, currently and into the foreseeable future this is an employers market. They don’t have to maintain generous compensation packages, especially in a country with 300 million plus people and a true unemployment rate of 10 or 11%

        If the unions were to magically evaporate you can bet within a generation those wages and benefits would change dramatically.

        • 0 avatar
          Fordson

          It’s incredible that people still don’t understand this – it’s not tough:

          As long as there are more people looking for employment than there are positions available to them, there will be a need for collective bargaining power for labor.

          Nobody ever questions the need for trade associations for businesses, the Chamber of Commerce, etc. Those are collectives – give me a break. How are those organizations different with respect to employers than unions are to labor?

        • 0 avatar
          rnc

          “If the unions were to magically evaporate you can bet within a generation those wages and benefits would change dramatically.”

          With or without unions those things are going to change dramatically unless you think Mcdonalds and Walmart are going to take up the slack, what Carter had the balls to warn the nation about in 78′ or so (was derided for and followed by a president who just accelerated the process, followed 16 years later (the two inbetween and an actual middle congress undid most of Reagon’s damage, just as Carter sacrificed any chance at a second term to undo nixon’s (think voodoo econ. would have worked with 16-18% interest rates and inflation?) by another president who took full advantage of his 8 years to put this country into the worse possible position it could be. So even if it isn’t wages its going to be taxes and more than likely a combination of the two, to A. clean up a mess made by a generation that’ll be mostly dead when the bill comes due and B. To compete globally, that clock can’t be turned back (perhaps another thank you to Reagon, the selling out America (just the 99% mind you) for the sake of defeating communism really wasn’t necessary, it was already dead).
          Disclaimer – Voted for Bush I, if another Republican ever comes along with his principles and a willingness to do what’s best for the country, not what will enrich his boosters and help get a second term may vote that way again. There I combined, Unions, economics and politics all into one comment

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            How clear is your memory of 1980? I’m sincerely curious how anyone who is old enough to have voted in 1992 could hold the opinions about how we got where we are that you do.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’m 31 and have a clear memory of high school (96-99). I don’t think its out of the question to be in say mid to late 40s and remember 1992 politics well.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            Apparently there is still a considerable gap between the policies people (both liberals and conservatives) THINK that President Carter followed, and those that he actually DID follow.

            Carter initiated the deregulation of the trucking and airline industries, which brought about lower prices. (Deregulation of the telecommunications sector, in response to a lawsuit filed against AT&T by consumer actvitists, also gained steam during his term. It has resulted in more innovative services and lower prices for customers.) This was done, by the way, with the full support of such legislators as that well-known conservative Republican, Senator Ted Kennedy.

            Carter installed Paul Volcker as head of the Federal Reserve, and his policy of high interest rates to wring inflation (then at double digits) out of the economy ultimately worked. It also probably cost Carter the 1980 election, along with the continuing Iranian Hostage crisis drama. President Reagan kept following Volcker’s monetary policies and by 1986, inflation was a non-issue in the country.

            Carter’s policies regarding alternative energy sources were correctly regarded as a boondoggle at that time. If they aren’t viable in many cases TODAY, with better technology and much higher fossil fuel prices, doese anyone really think that they would have worked in 1980?

            And the idea that Reagan should have known that “Communism was really dead” does not hold water. In the 1989s, there was no sign of the Soviet Union loosening its grip on Eastern Europe, the country had just invaded Afghanistan and even several liberals were saying that the Soviet Union was here to stay. And then there are the Eastern European and Soviet dissidents who credited Reagan’s stance with giving them hope and speeding up the collapse of the Soviet bloc.

          • 0 avatar
            rnc

            The day the SU had to start importing processed grain in the late 70′s to feed its population despite, growing more wheat and having more ariable land, than any other country in the world (even the politburo, KGB and Military realized it was over in the late 70′s, amazing thing about the end of the cold war, things got declassified and people wrote books). They had simply invested to much in thier MIC and the rest of the country decayed, it was over*

            *They knew in the 70′s it was over,it was just a matter of how the end game played out, if it had played out the way some wanted we’d be dead and more than likely if not have some beautiful desert property when the geiger counter said we could come above ground.

            The military build-up of the 80′s was just supply side economics to goose the economy as other policies allowed industries to be offshored (China opening or China being bought are two different ways to look at the same thing) building weapons to fight one final, great battle (amazing stuff, when it works), that never happened and making people who lost those manufacturing jobs feel richer b/c they were paying so little for it.

            Yes young, just have taken time to “read” and “absorbe” information, from just about every perspective possible (even if I didn’t like it), still do, even about cars and sometimes a company called GM.

            About Afghanistan, funny thing and all of its history, only one great empire builder had the sense to stay away from it, Alexander the Great, Britian, the SU and ourselves (for those of US origin) just decided to learn the hard way (and imagine if Russia was giving away a few thous. shoulder launched AA missiles)

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            American industry declined in the 1980s because its plants, equipment and modes of operation were woefully outdated. It had nothing to do with the Cold War, nor was the build-up of defense forces in the 1980s an attempt to divert the attention of Americans from challenges facing our industrial sector.

            During the lush postwar years, the United States had little in the way of foreign competition, so companies paid out lavish wages to executives, high wages to workers (and used far more workers than it needed) and fat dividends to shareholders.

            Unions were on board because this not only meant high wages for the workers, but also kept employment levels artificially high.

            The party was over by the late 1970s, as the two energy crises showed that America’s industrial sector was largely obsolete. Many major steel companies, for example, were using equipment and processes little changed from the 1920s!

            The result was a great shake-out as companies were forced to radically change their way of doing business. Some went bankrupt.

            Now the manufacturing sector in this country is once again strong. We are still a manufacturing powerhouse. Adjusted for inflation and improved productivity (which has helped cap rising prices), manufacturing’s share of the nation’s GDP has remained constant since the mid-1970s.

            What people really complain about is that it takes fewer workers to produce more (and higher quality) goods, and very few of those workers are unionized. That, and the fact that Ronald Reagan didn’t enact permanent high tariffs on imported cars so that Americans would buy crappy Chevrolet Celebritys and Dodge 600s instead of far superior Honda Accords.

        • 0 avatar
          gslippy

          “If the unions were to magically evaporate you can bet within a generation those wages and benefits would change dramatically.”

          They only evaporate for people with no skills, who need the union to bully the employer into market-distorting compensation packages.

          Many non-unionized industries pay competitive wages because workers can take their skills elsewhere.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            In a generation, automation will make some serious progress and we won’t have the nearly the number of human manufacturing jobs we have now. Lots of tasks that we think of as being tasks for humans only will be performed by automation.

            Also, in the past we’ve had automation that was dedicated to a fixed task, The future is to design automation that can come right in and replace human worker using the same tools and procedures as the human worker. That will speed adoption and lower transition costs by avoiding expensive tooling and design changes.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            …..They only evaporate for people with no skills, who need the union to bully the employer into market-distorting compensation packages……

            Not true! I’d agree that the more poorly skilled would suffer the most simply because they have less to offer an employer. But make no mistake employers will pounce at every opportunity to keep wages as low as possible to maximize profit for themselves, even for skilled people. I experienced exactly that at an Engineering/Architectural firm. The influx of foreign born engineers willing to work for less destroyed our wage progress. There are enough laws and regulation to prevent the return of a sweatshop, but how anybody can think that a low wage environment is good for a consumer driven economy is beyond comprehension. All this is doing is creating an ever greater gap between the haves and have nots. And while the top 3 percent might be happy with that, at some point there will be some nasty uprising against the decline in the standard of living.

          • 0 avatar
            Fordson

            Why is it that only labor’s collective representation and its lobbyists distort markets, but collective representation of management and the means of production (Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Chamber of Commerce) and their lobbyists don’t?

            A true free-marketer would understand that any force that either capital or labor can bring to bear on markets, that is not specifically illegal, is a legitimate influence on markets.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      The union won’t succeed because it hasn’t yet figured out that the Japanese transplants have changed the way factories in this industry are operated.

      The Japanese expect the worker to provide input and suggestions to improve both the production process and the product. The Japanese have rendered the old Henry Ford/Alfred Sloan model – hire a bunch of untrained workers, tell them NOT to think, and work them as hard as possible – obsolete. In that environment, workers were basically two-legged mules, and initially treated as such.

      When a company expects workers to contribute meaningful suggestions and take initiative, it hires a different type of worker in the first place, and completely changes the work environment.

      As long as the UAW and its supporters ignore this key fact, and keep deluding themselves that only comparable wages keep the union at bay, continued failure is guaranteed.

  • avatar

    Oh God… Al Sharpton AND Jesse Jackson.

  • avatar

    I have toagree with “oldDavid” as being here in Canada I am not faimliar with the UAW did in the USA, one thing for sure is that if there had been no Unions, you would not have the benefits of a 40 hour work week or anything else, Companies tend to not grant fair wages to anyone or other Benefits either. Let’s not condem Unions!

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @Gentle Ted,
      So do we keep on using steam engines, gas lamps etc as they also made the workers life more affluent.

      Unions have had a role in history, I believe workers need some form of representation. The union’s role must evolve to match what they expect from business and government.

      Has workplace safety, equity in work places contributed, it has made more worker accountable. It has removed accountability from management. Union organisations must follow and become accountable financially and ethically, become a responsible part of business function.

      They do use their monopolised influence over the most important assets in a business, workers. They must be held into account for this, like management.

  • avatar
    snakebit

    I have a hard time painting UAW workers, or their management, with the same broad brush.To hear Sergio Marchionne discuss this, and he’s spoken twice on the subject, the relationship between the Chrysler Jefferson North UAW workers(builders of the Grand Cherokee and Durango) and Sergio is so tight that I expect the two factions to begin picking out furniture together soon.

    On the other hand,for their assembly plants in the US, Honda and Toyota figured out early on that if they offered the benefits directly to workers heretofore only obtained with union help, the workers would see no need to organize, and that’s why unions have a difficult time getting anywhere with the ‘transplant’ workers. The union is not needed at those plants.

    It’s increasingly hard to generalize pro or con about the UAW versus non-union plants.

  • avatar
    Acd

    In 2013 I don’t see what the UAW brings to the table for the average worker. It seems like the UAW needs the transplants dues more than the transplants workers need what the union can bring them.

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    Certainly unions have done much good for American workers: The eight hour workday, five-day work week, better pay and working conditions.
    However all of these gains are now covered by federal regulations, if the UAW wants to organize the transplants they are going to have to try a different approach, although I am not sure at this moment what that should be. However, the approach the UAW is currently using reminds me about what Albert Einstein one remarked about insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and hoping each time for a different outcome.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Wrong – see my reply to olddavid above. This is nothing but union propaganda. Do your homework. Research American companies that were in existence 100 years ago. The 40-hour work week came about at Ford in the 1920s, long before the UAW was even in the picture.

      I’m not saying that unions didn’t have anything to do with improving worker conditions and pay, but they are given too much credit.

      You should also do your homework regarding the communist involvement with labor unions a century ago. It’s funny how union boosters never seem to mention this.

  • avatar
    Waterview

    There’s no question that the consistent presence of the UAW helps keep the non-union plant’s compensation and benefits packages competitive. This accountability works in reverse as well – the union needs to be accountable to those whom it wishes to represent. There’s no question that substantial gains in safety, compensation and benefits were gained in the 1950′s and 1960′s, but the UAW hasn’t done much in the last twenty years to deliver meaningful value to their membership. Once they had achieved compensation and benefits, they shifted to a “protectionist” mode – with a blizzard of job protection/classifications that prevented an electrician from touching a broom. What if they had instead spent the last twenty years using union dues on additional training (technical and financial), college tuition support, etc.? There’s something you can sell potential members.

  • avatar
    daiheadjai

    It is true that unions did make life better for workers.
    But that was in the 19th and up to the mid-20th Century.
    We are now into the 21st Century.

    Unionization today (in the West) is the solution to problems that were solved in the 19th and 20th centuries already – they are vestigial organs which are now detrimental to worker benefits.

    Like one commenter already pointed out, the places that truly would benefit from unionization are not on the North American and European continents.
    But the UAW/CAW is not in it for benefiting all workers – it’s in it for it’s own benefit.

    It stretches credulity to suggest that, were unions to disappear today, we would all suddenly be forced back into 60 hour workweeks and sweatshop conditions.

  • avatar
    Mykl

    Labor unionization is a process to improve the quality of life for, and prevent the exploitation of workers in newly industrialized, developing countries. Unionization in first world countries where a basic level of safety is guaranteed by law, and wages and compensation are dictated by competition in industry, disarms the Unions of their primary purpose. If the level of compensation is not to an individual’s liking, they are free to educate/train/improve themselves for a different career; if they get injured on the job, they have well defined means to seek appropriate compensation.

    At this point it seems like all labor unions exist for is to artificially inflate the wages of workers beyond what the market can sustain. We should be eternally grateful to them for advancing certain causes during the industrialization period of the United States, but they’re starting to just get in the way.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Let’s see Bob King, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton in the same picture. I’d be concerned about my image if I was King, guilt by association and all… but I suppose birds of a feather flock together…

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    IMHO the problem began when the rest of the corporate world in the US became so overwhelmingly un-unionized . Hard to have a union industry selling cars to the ” average ” guy who wasn’t unionized and didn’t make the wages to buy the product . We are seeing this today as part of the health care problem . Salaries are up across the board for health care personnel , not matched anywhere else in the private sector and just as unsustainable . If the unions could be blamed in the decline of the big three certainly it might be the increasingly slipshod assembly , starting in the seventies particularly , tho obviously management shared the blame particularly in the ill concieved and poorly designed product . The union agreements setting up the ” job banks” did a lot of P.R. damage no doubt also – reports of workers paid to do nothing and the big three forced to build cars that weren’t needed as a result . Also such buffoons as Al Sharpton probably aren’t the best allies to be a poster boy for the union struggle .

  • avatar

    Soon, the UAW will be GM’s biggest single shareholder.

    GM makes and sells more cars in China than in the U.S.

    Without China, GM would be the size of Hyundai

    It would be interesting to hear the UAW’s position about unionization of China, especially of SAIC. I’d be interested in their opinion as a shareholder and as a union.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I would love to hear their comments on such a subject. Sounds like some excellent sound-bytes from UAW will be coming our way.

    • 0 avatar
      Mykl

      With that, if the UAW will be GM’s biggest single shareholder…. they can influence the course of that ship to their heart’s desire. It’s funny, at contract bargaining sessions they’ll effectively be arguing with themselves.

      Any idea of if it’s possible for another union to set up shop there to bargain with the union that effectively “owns” the company?

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      ‘After the 2001 vote, King said Nissan had “won round two” and said that “there will be round three and four.” ‘

      There would only need to be a round four if they again failed in round three. It sounds he expected continued failure.

    • 0 avatar
      silverkris

      Bertel,

      I’m surprised you didn’t know that in China, most workers are represented by a workers’ union (gonghui), by law. Of course, it’s not really a trade union in the traditional sense, in practice, and they don’t really have the traditional collective bargaining rights as in a Western country. They often will organize social and recreational events for the workforce, distribute holiday baskets/tins of mooncakes. The so-called Communist government is very, very wary of independent non-governmental organizations in China because they see them as possible or potential loci for opposition to the state, and the potential for opposition from workers’ organizations is bigger than from university students simply because there’s more of them and they have it tougher than the intellectuals. So I’m not sure if the Chinese government is going to allow that to happen.

      That said, China has had a lot of industrial action in the past decade or so, including strikes at vehicle plants. Industrial wages in China have gone up a lot in the last several years. So all of the major automakers in China have some challenges to face in terms of rising expectations of their work force.

  • avatar
    econobiker

    The unions are barking up the wrong tree here. Automotive industry employees are generally still making living wages, even without unions.

    The unions need to go after Wal-mart’s serf-level pay, all part time employment, and quasi-benefits to make a real contribution to the American workers benefit.

    But going after Wal-mart would be just way to too difficult for the lazy unions because of the multiple locations versus five or six big car making facilities…

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Not to mention the fact that union dues are typically about 1% of a worker’s wages, so they have much less to gain by going after minimum-wage workers.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        When I was 16 and looking for a part time job, the big box stores where paying between $7-7.50/hour. The unionized supermarkets could only pay $6.25/hour with a 25 cent raise every year. I got a 50 cent raise because of my job performance. Something that couldn’t happen at the union stores. It wasn’t until minimum wage was raised that the wages of the union stores matched the others. So if the local Wal-Marts were unionized by the same union, those workers would have earned less than they did. Wal-Mart is just an easy target. (No pun intended)

        • 0 avatar
          Carl Kolchak

          Back in the day in Chi-towm, the grocery stores were the jobs to get. the union stores made way more than the non- union stores. Now, it appears the union stores do not pay enough for anyone to make it a career as they have had tiered pay rates for a long time.
          The UAW lost a Ton of credibility when they allowed the tiered pay rates. Why should a new guy get in the field, when he will NEVER make the same rate of pay the old-timer is making. The companies should have just started laying people off until the union was ready to negotiate a reasonable wage.

  • avatar
    tenzin

    Studies have shown that when comparing unionized workers versus non-unionized ones, the latter have higher productivity resulting in a more competitive companies. Its almost as if the unions can be blamed for the demise of the Big 3 in comparison to their Asian counterpart.

  • avatar

    It stretches credulity to suggest that, were unions to disappear today, we would all suddenly be forced back into 60 hour workweeks and sweatshop conditions.

    I realize the unions could use a drastic change in the way they operate. I also realize that a lot of people here wouldn’t shed a tear if the UAW and its ilk gradually went extinct.

    But I do know that unions once served as an effective backstop against a slow and barely noticeable slide into said 60 hour workweeks and sweatshop conditions. Anyone cheerleading for the end of unions without something to effectively replace them won’t notice the backslide right off, but it will happen. And no one will know what they’ve missed until it’s gone.

    It’s hard to believe that companies would follow the Walmart ideal when it comes to compensating ordinary workers, but it becomes even less far-fetched if there’s a huge financial incentive involved…

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Claw

      Agreed. I find it comical how easily the American working stiff accepts the candy-coated interests of an increasingly globalizing industry, who increasingly has less incentive to entertain human resources.

      Above, I read something along the lines of how unions exist to get a particular political party elected, which speaks to how deeply the influence is at this point. It’s ridiculous. If no one puts any sort of check against corporate interests lest they devour human spaces unchecked, every place becomes Walmart.

  • avatar
    agroal

    As soon as the self-serving racial charlatans like Jackson and Sharpton show up-I tune out. This from a loyal, 33 year, dues paying, trade union member.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    People who think government agencies are sufficient to ensure safe workplaces and good working conditions are dreaming. Go check out your typical chicken processing plant down south.

  • avatar
    crtfour

    Well if they are successful I will cross Nissan off my list of car choices when shopping next time just like I have GM, Ford and Chrysler.

  • avatar
    Dr. Claw

    The auto unions would do well to keep out of the South — anyone knows that they have a history of not being particularly forward-looking when it comes to labor, organized or otherwise…

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The contributions of 40 hour work weeks, safe work conditions, fair pay, and fair benefits are great accomplishments attributed to unions. Having said that to force unionization on a business that is providing fair wages, safe working conditions, and fair benefits when the majority of the workers don’t want the union is an example of union strong arming. Unions in Germany are out of control with Opel being a prime example. Opel is the weak link and getting anymore concessions out of Opel will eventually lead to the demise of Opel and the loss of jobs for Opel workers. I do agree with Big Al that the unions have contributed to the Big 3s problems, but then so has mismanagement and top management receiving large pay packages for poor performance and bad decisions. There is plenty of blame to go around. GM needs to clean out the Akersons and the rest of their top managers and they need to replace them with real car guys in top management. They also need to change their bonuse and pay system that when the company loses money then management takes a proportional pay cut to the loses. Bonuses should be based on the actual profitability and not on stock price.


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