By on February 23, 2014

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We talk a lot about brands here at TTAC. For example, Porsche comes in for a bit of criticism for moving away from their image as a maker of purist sports cars. We’ve discussed how brands can be burnished and also be diminished. Do today’s Cadillacs live up to “the standard of the world” and is the Lincoln Motor Company a dead brand walking? Back when GM was busy melting down financially and the future of brands like Pontiac were uncertain, I even checked with a businessman who specialized in bringing back old brands, to see how he would go about reviving GM’s distressed brands. Even a badly damaged brand can be revived. Which brings me to today’s topic, is the UAW’s brand damaged and if so, how can it be fixed?

I ask that not just because the autoworkers’ labor union lost an important certification vote at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, TN assembly plant. You can see negative attitudes towards the UAW by consumers as well, people insisting one reason why they won’t buy a car from the three domestic American car companies is because they question the quality of cars built in UAW shops. Sure, some of the negativity comes from general anti-union attitudes, but I think the UAW would be well served to pay attention to the possibility that their brand is indeed considered damaged by both consumers and potential UAW members, and to consider what the union can do to restore some luster to its brand. Denying that the UAW brand is damaged, or saying that it’s all the fault of anti-union activity is akin to a line worker at GM’s Detroit Hamtramck Assembly Plant whistling Solidarity Forever as he strolls past the folks resting forever at Beth Olem.

One of the more common comments following the UAW’s failing to win the vote at VW was that workers there weren’t rejecting the idea of a union so much as they were rejecting a specific union, the UAW. Certainly a factor in the vote was the involvement of outside groups, like the one headed by Grover Norquist, that bought billboard space in Chattanooga targeting VW employees. Those billboards didn’t really address ideological issues surrounding the labor movement, they attacked the UAW. Those billboards wouldn’t have gotten traction with VW employees if the UAW’s image with those workers was pristine.

My own position on the UAW is that while I have my criticisms, a measurable percentage of the things that I see attacking the UAW are unfair. For example, calling the union “communist” is just silly in light of the history of Walter Reuther fighting hard to keep communist influence out of his union. I’m a small L libertarian and I have my differences with the labor movement but I think that the U.S. Constitution, which protects freedom of association and contract rights, provides a sound basis for saying that Americans have the right to form labor unions and try to negotiate collectively, at least in the private sector. This, however, is not about my political or ideological stances, it’s about consumers and workers looking at the union label and saying, “no, thanks”.

Part of the UAW’s brand image problem is tied to “Detroit”, the city and the industry. At the same time that “Detroit” evokes a symphony of images and feelings, many of which are not exactly warm and fuzzy, there are at least a couple of examples of Detroit brands being turned around. While it still has a long row to hoe, Cadillac today is a much more respected brand than it was in the late 1990s, and under Alan Mulally’s leadership Ford has gained a great deal of credibility with consumers and industry observers alike. If those companies’ brands can go from not even being on consumers’ short lists to now being found on their driveways, there’s no reason why the UAW can’t improve its image.

So if you were Dennis Williams, who is slated to replace Bob King as president of the UAW, what would you do to improve the UAW’s brand?

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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170 Comments on “QOTD: How Can the UAW’s Damaged Brand be Fixed?...”


  • avatar
    RangerM

    Perhaps if the UAW weren’t perceived as an extension of a single political party in the US, half the country’s opinion would improve.

    Whether this is possible or not, I don’t know.

    It’s a perception that has been fostered for a long time; just as the one that said Japanese cars are more reliable than American cars. Only now (~25 years later) are we seeing that perception wane.

    • 0 avatar

      Last I knew, union members vote 40% Republican, so it isn’t as easy as labeling union members as socialist liberal Democrats…. not that YOU said that. I’m just saying that some jump to that conclusion.

      Having said that, I don’t know that the brand of U.S. Unions can be saved. Perhaps their usefulness has come and gone? But in times of a labor surplus, unions lose sway but come back when labor markets tighten up. We ALL hope that happens again in this country.

      But through the Teamsters, the UAW, and other unions who have been involved with unsavory characters and organizations, the union brand has been maimed, not just the UAW. German and Japanese unions are much more respectful, less strident, and less likely to paint the wealthy as corrupt. I believe we need unions. Despite their regular missteps, they have provided a lot of benefit to the country. But they need to change their tone or they’ll continue to self destruct. IMHO.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        Regardless of individual union members voting choices, Democrats are the recipients of virtually all union political donations, amounting to $100s of millions during the last presidential election cycle.

        • 0 avatar

          > Regardless of individual union members voting choices, Democrats are the recipients of virtually all union political donations, amounting to $100s of millions during the last presidential election cycle.

          If you were a union, would you donate to the GOP? It seems pretty obvious they’re stuffing money to the opposition in large part *because* of the GOP.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            You’d be surprised as the unions average grows the rank and file become quite conservative in their political views. I know a couple of dues paying paying members in different professions that are educated and primarily conservative. They all have the same view that the union supports poor work habits.

      • 0 avatar
        Crosley

        The UAW did not make a single donation to Republicans.

        http://freebeacon.com/none-of-the-top-10-biggest-political-donors-are-republican/

        Maybe that’s the problem, the union is not really representing the rank and file, due paying members. They’re simply bankrolling the Democrat Party. And members are also CONSTANTLY told (and intimidated) on how to vote.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          The GOP wants to destroy the UAW. It wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to give money to a political party that wants to put your organization out of business.

          • 0 avatar
            Crosley

            By “destroy” you mean allow people to have the choice to decide to join voluntarily instead of being forced?

            Please show me a modern Republican politician proposing a law to outlaw the UAW?

            All I see is “right-to-work” laws spreading across the country, and the public overwhelmingly backing that choice, even in traditional liberal states.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            You must either think that I’m gullible, or else you’re incredibly naive.

            The purpose of “right to work” laws is to cut into union revenues, so that they are more likely to run out of money. And we all can guess why some people would like to see the unions go broke.

          • 0 avatar
            Crosley

            Unions do exist in every single right-to-work state.

            But what does that say about you, the Unions, and your political ideology that you don’t think a worker should have the freedom to decide whether or not to join a union or not? Why should anyone be forced to join a political organization against their will?

            It doesn’t speak well for any organization when your goal is involuntary membership that forces people to pay for political goals that they’re opposed to.

            If right-to-work laws mean less union membership as a result of the new freedom to decide, that’s on the union, not Republicans.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            OK, so you’re naive.

            Except for Teddy Roosevelt (who would probably be denounced as a “RINO” if he was around today), the Republicans have been opposed to unions for over 100 years.

            It makes as much sense for the UAW to donate to the GOP as it would for AIPAC or the NAACP to give money to David Duke. Their interests are not aligned, and you’re the only one who hasn’t seemed to figure this out.

          • 0 avatar
            Crosley

            You seem to be engaging in an argument I’m not making.

            I’m for right-to-work laws, you’re not.

            Your view is that workers shouldn’t get a choice about whether or not they have to join a union.

            So far, my view is prevailing, and right-to-work laws are gaining steam and keep spreading.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I didn’t express an opinion about “right to work” laws. I explained to you why they exist: to weaken unions by depriving them of revenue.

            I didn’t say whether the UAW was lovely or terrible. I explained to you why it would make absolutely no sense for the union to try to curry favor with the Republican party, and why the Republican party is highly unlikely to ever change its position on unions.

            You’re so caught up in your political position that you are incapable of stepping back and analyzing the situation.

            I know that “right to work” sounds really cool, but if you understood what “rights” are, then you should know that nobody in the United States has the right to have a job, which renders the term as bogus. (Go try telling the HR person at any business within ten miles of you that you are entitled to be hired there, and see how they react to your claim to “rights.”)

          • 0 avatar
            MrGreenMan

            In Michigan, I know we’ve elected in the last two cycles state legislators who were Republicans but were also strongly supportive of unions. They were even TEA Party affiliated.

            Also in Michigan, the whole RTW issue surfaced only after the UAW-led effort to try to enshrine an anti-RTW sentiment in the state constitution. The state GOP leadership was more than content not to make this an issue, and not to pass any legislation on the matter when they controlled the entire law making apparatus – as can be seen by the law not having been considered until the 3rd year of Mr. Snyder’s term, after the failed UAW-backed initiative.

            So, the idea that the GOP wants to destroy the UAW is false, and the idea that, at the state level, where it has mattered, the GOP has a complete, reflexive, and rabid anti-union position is also false.

            It would make sense for them to throw some money the GOP’s way in states where there is a GOP lock on the legislature or the governor’s office, especially when those states have a large union presence. They have attempted to federalize everything, and then hope, like the unions with the begging bowl out for Ms. Pelosi now about their union health insurance, that their dwindling fraction as a private sector union of the Democrat Coalition can still win them special treatment (it can’t anymore; they aren’t relevant to the DNC).

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Pch101
            Right to work is designed to weaken unions? WTF? Lame.

            If union’s provided a product that people want do you not think the right to work laws wouldn’t work?

            People in right to work states have choice. This is something union’s don’t want.

            Protectionism at it’s finest.

          • 0 avatar
            Crosley

            So the GOP doesn’t like it when a Union forces people to contribute to their political opponent to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

            Therefore, the GOP is fighting to make it so workers have a choice whether or not they want to join the union since they feel the union is actually not serving the wishes of their due paying members.

            What a scandal you’ve uncovered!

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The GOP’s monied business interests aren’t fond of unions, for obvious reasons.

            The GOP also doesn’t like the fact that unions provide political donations to the GOP’s opponents.

            Then there are the social conservatives and libertarians, who dislike unions for ideological reasons.

            Just follow the money, combine it with party ideology, and the rest of it becomes easy to understand. But you actually have to think it through in order to connect the dots.

          • 0 avatar
            VCplayer

            Republicans are not a solid voting block on a variety of issues. Given that the UAW’s alignment with the Democrats has been less and less meaningful (Democratic majorities failed to even really consider card check), it would seem to make some sense for the UAW to diversify its political sponsorship. There are plenty of Republicans who would go easy on the UAW for a modest sum. Some won’t, but at least you won’t be in a life or death struggle with the entire party.

            For business, donating to campaigns and lobbying is really just part of the protection racket. Companies that don’t play Washington’s game suddenly find themselves beset by regulators and auditors. The UAW really isn’t all that different of an entity.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The three major wings of the Repubican party — the traditional industrial and business interests, small government libertarians and Christian social conservatives — are all unified in their opposition to unions.

            The fact that Democratic voters are themselves often tepid or even somewhat hostile to unions does not provide a basis for the UAW to make inroads with the opposing party. It’s not a black-and-white universe.

            One of the inherent obstacles to unions in general and the UAW in particular is that while they are despised by the right, they aren’t necessarily liked very much by the center or the left, either.

            The Democratic party leadership are allies of political convenience. But many of the voters are not so supportive, while the politicians will throw the unions under the bus whenever priorities dictate. Union membership is low, even among Democrats, so there isn’t much of a basis for creating a warm and fuzzy relationship.

        • 0 avatar
          el scotto

          I wonder how jobs are assigned in a union shop in a right to work state? I get a feeling that the non-union employees will get the worst jobs. Overtime? It’ll probably go to the union workers first. Trade union guys not paying their dues in a right to work state? Sorry, boyo we don’t need you today. Yeah, that’s probably how it will work in the real world; NOT some internet blog.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @el scotto
            I’d hardly think so.

            What if the non-union guy’s contract states he’ll work for less than the union guy regarding overtime?

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          >>The UAW did not make a single donation to Republicans.<<

          And the UAW got $billions$ of other peoples' money in the bailout as bankruptcy laws were rewritten on the fly in their favor.

          A ruined Detroit and that act of supreme cronyism make the UAW poison.

          Further, the latest election amply shows why "card check" should be outlawed and all such elections should be by secret ballot, forever enshrined as workers' rights.

      • 0 avatar
        RangerM

        @Ruggles:

        The reality of how 40% of the UAW proletariat votes is inconsequential to how the UAW is perceived, because that minority percentage is never heard.

        I think you missed my point. (although perhaps I didn’t make it clearly).

        The American automakers had a reliability problem compared to the Japanese-owned brands that began in the 70s and lasted through much of the 80s. People began to perceive the imports as nearly “always better”. By 1990, many of those problems had been diminished, yet the perception remained for the next ~25 years. You see it even today, although today many will cross-shop when 10 years ago they wouldn’t have considered it.

        How did the Americans turn it around? Answer: Product improvement.

        Now I ask, what is the “product” of the UAW?

        It’s not the cars. Those are Fords or Chevrolets. Even as my 2013 F-150 has a UAW sticker on it, I’m indifferent to it. The truck is a Ford; built by Americans, not the UAW.

        As far as I can tell, the UAW’s “product” is its actions, and the results of those actions.

        If those actions go outside the UAW’s purview, it’s entirely reasonable that those actions/results will be judged by those from the outside, accordingly.

        At this time in America, half the country is on the opposite side of the UAW’s political actions, and they sure don’t like the results.

        Maybe if the UAW went back to focusing on “autoworkers” the perception will change. But, I don’t know if that’s possible, because of the symbiosis with a single political party.

    • 0 avatar
      RogerB34

      The legacy stems from the Depression years when labor strikes were daily news from the auto industry to the local tavern. Labor does have the right to organize and strike. The problem is that labor and Government are allied in union demands. Government has been an advocate for labor since the Depression. One of the first pieces of congressional legislation following 7 Dec 41 was to ban strikes. Boeing most recent and here comes the NLRB over the VW vote. Government has a role as mediator ensuring a fair bargaining process and that’s all.
      Unreliable cars were a product of Detroit’s management environment.

  • avatar
    carveman

    The UAW would do well to remove itself from the political arena and stick to issues regarding the automotive industry. Being a fund raising arm etc for the Democratic party makes the union a bonafide and easy target for the slings and arrows they receive. Pissing off half of the country is not a great marketing ploy. The old adage applies, live by the sword, die by the sword. Of course this isn’t going to happen, but the constant whining gets tiring.

    • 0 avatar
      VCplayer

      Specifically, I really don’t know why the UAW feels it needs to have positions on issues like abortion or gay rights, or really anything that has nothing to do with assembling cars.

      What’s Nike’s stance on the war in Syria? How does McDonald’s feel about birth control? Does Kroger support drilling in ANWAR? That’s right, we have no idea what those brands think about any of that. Corporations understand that they exist to make money for their shareholders, not promote ideologies. The UAW could take note.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    Excellent piece, Ronnie. This is the kind of article that TTAC readers come here regularly for, rather than the disastrous pieces done earlier this week by Jamie Kitman and Anonymous.

    Now, to answer the question directly.

    1. Hire a firm that specializes in resurrected damaged brands. There is a precise set of steps that need to be taken, and a professional approach is what is needed.
    2. Consider changing the name from UAW to something fresher. The firm above will help with that.
    3. Honesty, honesty, honesty. Publically say “mistakes were made”. Announce that there will be a kinder, gentler union that will focus on helping the automakers be successful, rather than viewing management as the enemy.
    4. Overhaul the seniority system and orient it to a merit based system. Protect what needs to protected: worker’s rights, healthcare, and strive to keep the jobs intact rather than an incentive to outsource.

    Pipe dream? Probably.

    • 0 avatar
      DrSandman

      How do you solve a problem like Maria?
      How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?
      How Can the UAW’s Damaged Brand be Fixed?

      The answers to these questions are unknowable because there is no answer.

      The only thing that will delay the dying of the UAW is to allow the members to proportionally direct money to politicians that reflect the membership.

      It sure seems that most recipients of UAW money are hostile to the things members actually care about outside the job (i.e., related to 1st & 2nd amendment issues)… There is more to life than work.

  • avatar

    start by fixing the organization from within, allowing for dissent and releasing the stranglehold of the Administrative Caucus. next immediately insist on elimination of two tier wages which violates the concept of Solidarity. not a bad idea to combine this with winning actual gains for their members. it would also serve them well to take up a few positions that make sense rather than just follow the Democratic Party (ie Audit the Fed, Balance Budget Amendment).

    these are just a few of the initial moves that would turn opinions back toward supporting unionism in general and the UAW in particular.

  • avatar
    Mr Imperial

    An unfortunate truth of our society today is our very short attention span. Lies by politicians are forgotten in a couple months span, and the crooks get reelected.

    We spend more time concerned over Beyonce’s baby bump than the National Debt. Justin Beiber’s antics Gartner more page views than the story of the CBO releasing a report of Obamacare adding billions to the deficit.

    So-how does this involve the UAW? Rename the organization. Our nation’s attention deficit disorder plus short attention span will mean that the old baggage will be quickly forgotten.

  • avatar
    Hillman

    Get rid of 2 tier wages. Also, find a way to reward good employees for going above and beyond and punish bad employees for doing poorly. Also, for mega bonus points work with management to help the organization and the workers benefit.

  • avatar
    Dirk Stigler

    Short answer: it can’t. For the same reason that GM ultimately can’t be fixed. There’s a firmly embedded culture in the organization that can’t even see the possibility that it might be its own worst enemy. The only ‘realistic’ answer is to scrap it and start over, probably with European-style works councils. Scare quotes because we all know there’s no realistic chance of anything like that ever happening.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    Could it simply be that well treated workers don’t see the need to unionize? If you are paid a fair wage and work reasonable hours doing fulfilling work, why would you want to pay for a group of people to “represent” you?

    The days of people dying on the assembly line are long gone – mostly due to litigation and legislation.

    The UAW may want to focus on industries where the workers are genuinely treated like crap – maybe the diamond mining industry?

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      zerofoo, I agree that in general, the transplants likely feel they get a decent wage and compensation package without union representation. But they are, by default, getting that package because of the concern by management that the UAW is out there, ready to pounce should the workers become unhappy. However, as far a VW goes, I think the workers are more afraid of the UAW itself, and much of that blame does belong on the UAW and the image it carries. Could that image be fixed? Well, much as GM still struggles with the seeds planted from the late 70s, the union has a long road ahead. I don’t give any credence to the idea that union equals Democratic politics. If anything, the way the union’s top brass operates is more akin to gilded age industrialists than anything else. If the UAW was actually to disappear the ripple effect would likely embolden management and any real progress on wages and job security would come to an end…history makes that crystal clear. The UAW really needs to take a serious look in the mirror and see what they can do to have an image that is much less adversarial and more in tune with the times. Your average person, if asked, would probably equate (correctly or not) the UAW with: Strikes, excessive compensation, ambivalence…the real good the founders of the union sought to create are long forgotten…and that is what the present union must recreate.

  • avatar
    J.Emerson

    The UAW’s “brand image” in the eyes of transplant workers comes primarily from two separate sources, one of which is mostly out of the control of the union.

    The first of these is the quality and competitiveness of GM, Ford, and Chrysler’s product, and their resulting success in the marketplace. The UAW can’t force the Big 3 to design good cars, and it can’t force consumers to buy them. If the Big 3 can continue their current run of success, then it will do more than anything else to create a positive perception of the UAW. But the union’s control over that is fairly limited.

    The second element, which the union does control, is the salary and benefits of its members. If it can succeed in generating a major wage and benefit gap between the Big 3 and the transplants, then success in organizing those will be much easier to obtain. The UAW needs to jettison the two-tier system as soon as possible. The main issue here is the “free rider” problem: the UAW can’t stop the transplants from simply raising wages and benefits commensurately with the contracts it wins from the Big 3. For that, there is no easy answer.

    But what the UAW leadership should always remember is that the union is not a charity or a PR firm. It is a collective bargaining agency that looks out for its dues-paying members. Period. Every action taken by the UAW leadership should reflect that fact, first and foremost. It would be a mistake to assume that the most committed opponents of the UAW want some kind of dialog or compromise: they want to see the UAW gone. Attempting to win over the hearts and minds of those people is a losing game, and will only weaken the union in the long run.

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      You are correct that the thing they could and should do is to focus on improving the lot of their members. I’m not a union guy, but I’ve forever been puzzled – why does the union care so much more for the retirees than it does for the new blood? If the choice is making ends meet for the current workers or rescuing benefits for the retirees, if seems like they should choose the former, and with Tier II and VEBA, at least from the outside, it looks like they have only cared about the latter.

      For people whose opinions hardly matter, except when they negatively impact the purchase decision, moving from “Arm of DNC” to “hey, they get their people money, and they’re laser-focused on that” is probably the best possible improvement.

      I remember when they were strong – people would still mock the “shop rats”, but shop rats with money spent it on a lot of toys, and the middle class was stronger then. It seems to me that Clinton with NAFTA and Obama with ACA have stabbed them in the back showing that there is no difference between an “R” or a “D” in only pursuing a globalist agenda; the old back-to-basics hedgehog approach of focusing on improving the lot for their current members would probably be the best possible approach for their longevity.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    FWIW, I used to be in a trade union. Our goal was to bring buildings in on time and on budget. Using that common sense premise the UAW needs to do three important things: 1. Acknowledge the automotive world has radically changed in the last forty years. Te Japanese and Korean car companies are here to stay 2. Deming’s production methods work and have radically changed how vehicles are made. This goes into actual plant operations, on hand inventory, and robotics. 3. Labor needs to work with management to ensure financial goals are met. It doesn’t matter how much you make an hour and what kind of benefits you get if the company isn’t around to pay them. Bob King is stuck in a 70s plaid-pants, long-sideburns, solidarity forever mindset. The UAW needs to be a more realistic and responsive union. No one had heard of CAT V cable in the 80s. Nowadays IBEW workers spend all day installing it. They adapted, the UAW needs to.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    “QOTD: How Can the UAW’s Damaged Brand be Fixed?”

    It seems to me this is only a relevant question for those who consider the UAW relevant.

    There was a time when unions were relevant but with today’s government mandates and regulations, I fail to see what a union can do that cannot be resolved through HR and/or the local chapter of the EEOC.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    It doesn’t matter what the average person thinks. What matters is whether the union can appeal to new members, as it’s going to go broke if it doesn’t.

    That will be tough. But a few basic things that it could do:

    -Change the name, and make sure that the new name isn’t industry-specific. The UAW name carries a stigma, plus the union doesn’t currently nor need to exclusively represent workers in the auto industry — if it is to survive, then it can’t just fixate on auto plant workers.

    -Admit to old sins, apologize and move on.

    -Ultimately, the pitch has to be to the workers, as they’re the buyers of the product. Accordingly, find out what they want but aren’t getting, and then get it for them. The specific hot button items that fired up the labor movement decades ago aren’t necessarily the same issues that concern workers today.

    (The two-tier wages probably don’t help, as the new members aren’t going to find that to be a compelling value proposition.)

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @Pch101
      Your comment is similar to a kid in a classroom who farts and is made to stand up and apologise by the teacher. ‘I was naughty’, do I go to the naughty corner.

      The UAW is in the real world, not school. The UAW has deeply rooted problems an apology will not suffice.

      • 0 avatar
        dartman

        Big Al that is a truly naive and silly analogy. If you do not believe a company can benefit from a name change and re-branding then I suggest you Google the following names: Accenture, Valujet, EOG Resources, Level 3, Verizon Business and Altria and research how failed companies or their subsidiaries can rise from ashes like mythical Phoenixes by disassociating themselves from toxic names/brands.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “Big Al that is a truly naive and silly analogy.”

          I didn’t read his post, but I’ll take your word for it.

          Anyone who doesn’t know that rebranding can help, at least in some circumstances, is ignorant of the realities of business and marketing. Consumers do care about brands, and it is sometimes better to dump a brand and start over than it is to keep it.

          The UAW has a steep hill to climb, but it would be a bit less steep if it didn’t keep owning that tarnished name. Creating a new image would require distancing itself from the old one.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Pch101
            Your comment was almost trivialising the current position of the UAW. It’s apologetic.

            The UAW has to start from the beginning, a new doctrine is needed, then let some policy come from that. Re-branding will not allow for this.

            The best outcome for the UAW is a splinter group is formed and rivals the UAW. They have a better chance of success.

            Just like religion is broken down in various splinter groups.

            The UAW has no viable product and left leaning paradigms isn’t what the majority want.

    • 0 avatar

      > -Change the name, and make sure that the new name isn’t industry-specific. The UAW name carries a stigma, plus the union doesn’t currently nor need to exclusively represent workers in the auto industry — if it is to survive, then it can’t just fixate on auto plant workers.

      The problem for the UAW is that it has the kind of political enemies that Accenture or Valujet don’t, but the second part of this hits the root of the membership problem.

      Blue-collar organizing in this country is dead, mostly because the jobs are gone anyway. If the UAW wants to revitalize, switching to the “service” jobs that’ll soon be outsourced or replaced by machines is probably the best immediate strat.

      In the long run it still needs to modernize the pervasive serf mentality in this country. I mean, these are people who evidently pledge unquestioned loyalty to those who won’t think twice to kick them to the curb; offering marginal benefits isn’t going to help.

  • avatar
    Windy

    The concept of a union shop where you have to join the union to work in a given job is the main thing that drives me away from the union positions. When I was just out of school I came up time and again with jobs I could take only if I agreed to have dollars taken from my pay each week to pay for fat cat union bosses perks and to support politicians that I would never vote for.

    It offends my basic sense of rightness. I eventually found a job at a place where there was informal origination where everyone who worked there voted for a few of the workers to be on a an oversight group that had access to the company books and could be sure we were getting a fair cut of the profits the white collar workers also voted one of their own to a spot. Safety concerns and ideas on how to do things better were also dealt with by them. There was no space for political donations and the small extra pay these folks got for a few min a week spent at these meetings came from the company and not from our pay packet.
    Now this was a medium high tech outfit with less than 500 workers at two plants…. But it worked well for them for more than 100 years the system was put in place when the firm was started in 1902 and when ever union organizers came around they were shown the door very quickly.

    But the problems of a big connected outfit like the UAW I think run too deep for any rebranding effort.

    The element of trust has been lost for too long.

  • avatar
    pragmatist

    Part of the UAW’s problem damage they have done to their own cause. Certainly someone to help protect workers rights is a good idea, improving wages within reason is a good idea.

    But in many cases they (and a number of other high profile unions including municipal) have instead damaged their future through trying to ‘protect jobs’ by requiring obtuse and profoundly inefficient work rules. My brother worked for Ford years ago (as a temp) and this was visible. People could not be moved from one job assignment to another, someone needed to be kept on the clock for each job even if it meant they were sitting around much of the day. Firing inept workers was extraordinarily difficult (hence the classic quality control issues).

    It wasn’t always for the good of the workers, either. Way back my father in law was a teamster, basically you had to suck up to the union or you’d never get a chance to get hired. Saying the wrong things could get you mysteriously beat up. The union controlled the workers far more than the company did.

    And, there is the example of the once prolific British automobile industry.

  • avatar
    crm114

    I’ve got nothing against being drunk and stoned, but don’t expect me to buy a car assembled by someone who was. I’m not talking about the video from a few years back, I’m talking about what I hear from people who worked at the St Paul Ford plant.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Would you say the same for the person(s) investing your retirement portfolio? I used to see some suited up stockbrokers in the stairtower of a parking garage in Lower Manhattan getting stoned…just a few, but no doubt there are just a few assembly workers doing the same. I just drove by the Mile High Recreational Cannabis shop in Denver (on ski vacation)…so like it or not, pot is going to be around just like the other “sins” that are ingrained in our culture….maybe some day pot will cost society what cigarettes, booze, and gambling do, but that is likely decades away, if ever.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        Hi Husky. I think you somehow glossed over two important parts of CRM114′s comment. He wrote drunk and stoned, not *stoned*. More importantly, if the stock brokers were fired for being stoned at work, do you think they’d be reinstated?

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          I think his point was that the workers were under the influence – I don’t think that it had to be two substances…basically the workers were “unfit” to perform their jobs. Regarding the stoned stockbrokers, I suspect that if they were outperforming their peers and it was not publicly known, the issue would likely have died right there…

  • avatar
    tedward

    As alluded to above the problems the uaw has with public perception are mainly things they can’t change without extraordinary contention within their ranks. I think those two things are the two tier wage system and protocols for dismissing and firing under performers.

    The second is the key thing for me. I’ve worked with a lot of union guys in the past (local rules etc) and it’s screamingly obvious when this is an issue in a specific workplace. Overly protected guys feel entitled to rudeness towards clients and inflexible work practices. The shops that self police that behavior simply don’t have that issue, union or not.

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    Speaking of weak brands, the small l in libertarianism is called “weak libertarianism”. Talk about a damaging label. But weak libertarianism is almost philosophically opposite of the militant strong libertarianism that damages the brand and prevents it from mainstream adoption. It could use a new rallying label. Compassionate libertarianism? Non-asshole libertarianism?

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      I vote for non-asshole libertarianism. Any dogma taken to its illogical extreme ends up being asinine.

    • 0 avatar
      zerofoo

      How about “realistic libertarian”?

      I want government to defend individual rights, but I’m smart enough to know that individuals don’t build roads, schools, police and fire departments…etc.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        My community has a fire department run by individual volunteers. Private schools are exceedingly common (and preferred in most cases), as well as private security companies and roadways. Where do you live that you have not noticed these things?

        • 0 avatar

          > My community has a fire department run by individual volunteers. Private schools are exceedingly common (and preferred in most cases), as well as private security companies and roadways.

          Community volunteer based efforts become progressively harder to scrounge beyond the “monkey sphere” since the level of charity naturally decrease, and private companies (ie presumably only governed by self-interest) are only good at things where the invisible hand works out which isn’t many things without significant artificial scaffolding. When groups are small implicit rules are sometimes sufficient, which is why the same rules need to be explicit when societies aren’t so contained.

          > Where do you like that you have not noticed these things?

          The US? Any western social-democracy? Not Somalia?

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “Where do you like that you have not noticed these things?

            The US? Any western social-democracy? Not Somalia?”

            The US and most western countries have examples of all of the above. I can’t speak for Somalia.

          • 0 avatar

            > The US and most western countries have examples of all of the above.

            There are examples of almost any system functioning in a decent size scale, except american libertarianism for the reasons mentioned above.

            For example, volunteer fire depts work in small towns because they require little permanent labor commitment, to people you actually know and therefore implicitly expect reciprocation; less so actual police for obvious reasons (not security guards who just call them).

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      The Libertarian Party’s been a joke for some time – remember, they nominated Bob Barr in 2008. I remember how funny it was to get Gary Johnson’s letters begging for money to pay off his campaign debts – if they can’t live up to principles while running for office, how could they ever be expected to live up to principles while in office?

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        As someone with a solid “small L” in their political ideology, I find that most people with whom libertarianism comes up in a conversation tend to think Libertarians are too focused on gun rights to the point that other issues are nowhere nearly as important. I am not so sure that is true, but a lot of people seem to think it is.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Not everyone who believes in democracy is a Democrat. Not everyone who supports a republican form of representative government is a Republican. Not everyone who believes in libertarian principles is a Libertarian. These are just names.

      Confusing things further, there are civil libertarians who aren’t libertarian or Libertarians. The term takes on a different meaning when the two words are combined, and civil libertarians are often left of center.

      To add even more confusion, there are a lot of self-proclaimed Libertarians who aren’t actually believers in Libertarian positions. Genuine Libertarians support abortion rights, loose border controls and a non-interventionist foreign policy. Good luck finding many right-wing “independents” who actually agree with that.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    The UAW’s current troubles mirror the Ku Klux Klan.

    Now, before you get that look on your face, allow me to explain.

    The Klan was once seen as a respectable organization, one that normal people were proud to associate with. It had massive political power at the state level, and even a certain amount of influence nationally.

    But a series of legal and political scandals finally broke it by revealing what it really was, and its basic philosophy did nothing to help.

    Today, the Klan has only a few thousand poor, reviled members, whose reputation is that of ignorant, miserable, racist outcasts.

    Now look at the UAW.

    Once the proud and respectable bastion of the common man, they’ve been reduced, through their own doing, to a shell of their former power, actively reviled for their activities and association with unsavory people and practices.

    Fewer and fewer decent people want to associate with them today, and that number will only further decrease with time.

    It may be that their brand is probably beyond help and cannot be salvaged, much like the Klan, the IRS and phrenology.

    At least, I hope.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      I can’t believe you went there.

      See what happens when there’s no football?

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        I said it.

        I meant it.

        I ain’t takin’ it back.

        And there are only 49 stars on my flag ’cause I’ll be dead in the cold ground afore I reconize Californee!

        • 0 avatar
          dartman

          That’s ok Alpha. Californee doesn’t want you either. If you left whatever corner of paradise your domiciled in and came to Cali, the average IQ in both locales would be reduced–a truly sad outcome.

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          There’s a move to split CA into 6 states since it is an ungovernable mess.

          It is a mess, but let them stew in it. Like NYC, it will likely have to go bankrupt before the union/Dem axis allows reform.

          That said, it’s a beautiful state.

          • 0 avatar
            dartman

            There is no “movement” to split CA into 6 states. Contrary to your belief, under Governor Jerry Brown the state’s finances are in the best shape in over a decade with the budget posting a surplus. Cali is the 8th largest economy in the world and is a giver not a taker to the US Gov and economy and wont be going bk anytime soon much to the chagrin of hoople-heads everywhere.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            Dartman,

            If CA is in such great shape, why does our great state continue to run billions in the red despite passing ‘balanced budgets’?

            Check out John Chiang’s website for the ‘cash status’ of CA. Here’s a snipett:

            “The State ended the month with a General Fund cash deficit of $12.6 billion, which was covered with both internal and external borrowing. That figure was down from last year, when the State faced a cash deficit of $15.7 billion at the end of January 2013.”

            Balanced budget? You tell me.

          • 0 avatar

            > If CA is in such great shape, why does our great state continue to run billions in the red despite passing ‘balanced budgets’?

            CA’s biggest budget issue is that resident tax dollars get sucked into the rest of country esp. the reddish parts. Let’s say I take $2k from you every month; that’d make my budget easier and yours harder. Let’s then say I drill you for “overspending” compared to those fiscally responsible like me. Sounds like a huge dick move.

          • 0 avatar
            OneAlpha

            Yeah, a beautiful state ruined by ugly people with uglier ideas.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        +1 Kenmore, but he does have a point as there are parallels.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          There are parallels between the klan and the NSDAP during Weimar, too, but I wouldn’t say that makes the American labor movement morally comparable to either.

          • 0 avatar
            OneAlpha

            To clarify, I wasn’t comparing the moral views of the UAW to the KKK. Though, to be completely accurate, there were some minor practical similarities.

            I invoked that comparison because both groups were once largely respected by society, but collapsed when their basic “business models” rendered them incompatible with reality.

            The KKK was once seen as a defender of decent white society, but was inherently racist, so it fell apart when society deemed such views unacceptable.

            The UAW originally sought to protect the common man from the rapacious factory owner, but the changing realities of the global marketplace eventually made the closed shop uncompetitive.

            Both once seen as legitimate, both now relics of the old world.

          • 0 avatar

            > The KKK was once seen as a defender of decent white society, but was inherently racist, so it fell apart when society deemed such views unacceptable.

            > The UAW originally sought to protect the common man from the rapacious factory owner, but the changing realities of the global marketplace eventually made the closed shop uncompetitive.

            Given the KKK crowd more or less merged into the anti-union one this makes for a pretty confused analogy. But to be fair expectations can’t be set too high for those who honestly believe that collective bargaining is analogous to racism (maybe because they both somehow involve “collections” of people, or something).

          • 0 avatar

            > To clarify, I wasn’t comparing the moral views of the UAW to the KKK.

            Oh, I got it now. So it’s like saying OneAlpha as a person is like Hitler; not that he’s morally comparable to Hitler, but he’s literally a “person” as Hitler is a “person”. Does that work?

          • 0 avatar
            OneAlpha

            Agenthex,

            If you want to bring up history’s worst mass-murderers, there are plenty to choose from besides Adolf Hitler.

            Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Tse-Tung and Genghis Khan are good choices.

            To say nothing of that murder-in-the-name-of-convenience crowd over at Planned Parenthood.

            I think they’re up to 40 million or so at this point.

          • 0 avatar

            > Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Tse-Tung and Genghis Khan are good choices.

            Ok, “OneAlpha as a person is like Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Tse-Tung and Genghis Khan”.

            Not that he’s murderer or anything, but the “analogy” that they’re all human is undeniably accurate.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            These comparisons are really unfair. Pol Pot was slightly less annoying than this Beta dude.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            It’s terrible of me to laugh at that quip but I did.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            http://www.esquire.com/the-side/feature/racists-support-obama-061308

            Unions have a history of protecting white jobs, a goal of the KKK too. Hard to see how the KKK could be anti-union now, when so many of them endorsed their fellow hate-merchant.

          • 0 avatar

            I invoke Poe’s Law.

          • 0 avatar
            OneAlpha

            Agenthex,

            I hope you’re repeatedly missing the point on purpose.

            I guess you’d have to be.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @OneAlpha
      An interesting piece? A slightly different take.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    There’s one more thing.

    I know most people don’t think about it, but there’s a difference between the word “worker” and the word “employee.”

    “Worker” implies that people who have an education and don’t do menial labor for a living don’t “work.”

    I write resumes for a living, from home, which I guess means that I don’t “work” like the guys on the highway crew leaning on the shovels EVERY SINGLE TIME I drive past them.

    But my job requires me to have the discipline to finish all my assigned orders by the end of the day in the absence of any direct supervision, while Joe and Ed and Frank need the foreman constantly watching them in order to get anything done, and will reliably goof off the second he turns his back.

    If those schlunks and I had to switch jobs for a day, I could drive a backhoe and work a skid steer and weld a bridge together.

    I’m pretty sure the yahoos would be up shit creek trying to do my non-”work” job.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    As a rule, labor unions are about protecting workers from the effects of increased productivity. Many work/seniority rules, and union concepts such as job banks are designed to make it impossible or very expensive to reduce headcounts per unit produced, which in the end mean unionized companies/plants become uncompetitive with non-union competitors. Furthermore this makes unionized firms less profitable, which makes them less attractive investments for shareholders and deprives the firm of the capital needed to modernize and pay high union wages. The only way to reverse this downward spiral is for unions to totally change their orientation and become helpful in identifying ways for the firm to cuts costs and improve profits, and to link worker compensation to a fair share of profits attributable to productivity increases. This to a large degree is the role they play in places like Germany with the worker council model, but is the anti-thesis of the UAW and most U.S. trade and public employee unions. Unions also need to focus on the worker needs (i.e. worker safety, pension security), rather than using large portions of union dues for campaign donations to any political party, and in so doing they will be able to greatly reduce union dues and make union membership seem like a better deal to potential members of all political persuasions.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    If you had money involuntarily taken out of your paycheck to bankroll candidates and causes you were 100% opposed, how would you feel about such an organization?

    A good start would be for the UAW to allow all membership to be 100% voluntary in every plant, regardless if the state is right to work or not.

    Also, how about letting the rank and file vote on how it wants to spend its dues on political activities? If half of your members are Republicans, why is not one penny going to Republican candidates?

    Of course, none of this will happen. The UAW will just keep trying bare-knuckle tactics until they are a shell of their former selves. Oh wait, that’s already happened.

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      As a outsider this would give the UAW more respect, it is a dangerous move yes, but desperate times call for desperate measures, I will post this for my union expert ie Mikey at you old plant if is was open enrollment what percent would join? I also think the UAW needs to align themselves with the non union worker in today’s world , ie 401k is the reality not pensions like 40 years ago.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Brands come and go, even among vehicle manufacturers.

    As I’ve stated the UAW is an institution. Institutionalisation makes it hard for change.

    During one of my management courses we were learning about change in the workplace, relating directly to what we call WHS, Workplace Health and Safety.

    It was figured a 7-10 year period was needed just to change people’s outlook regarding safety culture. That was nearly 20 years ago and I do think the cultural change isn’t as complete as management wanted.

    Why the length of time for change? Because of external influences. New members with poor habits and ‘old timers’ resisted the change.

    The UAW has to have the capacity manage external influences and rid itself of deadwood.

    The UAW appears to be tired and inflexible for the modern global world.

    They will try and argue otherwise. Whilst they argue the required changes aren’t occurring.

    People then see they are insincere and lack integrity. They just blew $5 million on a poor leadership decision, who’s fault will it be? Not their’s it never is.

    The leadership drives the culture within an institution. If the UAW want to survivie, they’d better start at the top removing deadwood and work down.

    The UAW has a negative culture that doesn’t suit the modern world. A positive cultural needs to start. As I’ve seen in other institutions lip service is used. The change has to be real or they will eventually have no one to lead.

    After a couple of decades, they then can try and sell a new product.

    What can they offer? Left wing bull$hit? Most people are in the centre and slightly left and right. That’s should be their target ‘customer’.

  • avatar
    readallover

    The first step is admitting you are part of the problem.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I don’t know if the brand really matters. It’s the product. UAW has to demonstrate why/how union representation is better than non-union shops for all parties involved. What value does a union bring to a manufacturer? I don’t think there is any.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    The UAW have already Sh#t their nest, that’s why not a single new auto transplant located their factories in a state like Michigan. They didn’t want their factories controlled and driven into the ground by the UAW.

    UAW membership went from 1.7 million to less than 400k today, despite the overall population substantially increasing. And it keeps going down.

    It’s already too late, workers don’t want the UAW, even when their own company brass is pushing it.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    Unions don’t want their members to be able to decide, that would mean a MUCH different Union, one that actually focused on real issues that workers face instead of ideological battles in Washington with millionaire fact cat union political bosses that could care less about the workers. They just recently got rid of the UAW private gold courses, that’s how out of touch these clowns are.

    Hell, I would be pis#ed that a lifetime of union dues for several members (almost $5 million) got flushed down the toilet in a single failed bid to organize a plant.

    If Union bosses truly cared about representing workers, they would allow them to decide on their own if they wanted to join the union in every single factory.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Here’s an interesting opinion piece from a Sydney daily.

    Australia has similar issue politcally with the union movement and it’s relations to our equivalent of the Dems (ALP or Australian Labour Party).

    It’s really worth a read and the UAW members should read this too. It’s very unbiased for an opinion. I don’t necessarily agree with all written, but there is some overall truth.

    http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-truth-behind-tony-abbotts-antiunion-push-20140223-33agu.html

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Hopefully this will work.

    http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-truth-behind-tony-abbotts-antiunion-push

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    My youngest son just gave me a gift of a well used book from the 1960′s written by a way too tall Canadian economist named John Kenneth Galbraith. Evidently, shared monopolies give rise to their mirror images in the form of labor unions. Entrenched management has been known to belly up to the trough as well. Some refer to this latter phenomenon as the Agency Problem.

    Those days are long since past. The shared monopoly pie is mostly gone with the wind, at least for the foreseeable future. China, India and others will insist. What, then, is the role of today’s UAW?

  • avatar
    Joss

    is the UAW’s brand damaged and if so, how can it be fixed?

    IMO via Mexico. From the outside in. Automakers have flocked to cheap labor and where it needs all the help it can get. The manufacturer’s agenda is a 10% > double digit yield for the shareholder. The unions can prove that life’s about more than that for the 99%.

    But the union movement’s labor lawyers haven’t proven immune to greed. Too many have turncoat & quit organized labor and gone to work for the boss as union-busting consultants. It’s definitely had an impact on AFL/CIO membership here in NA.

  • avatar
    CapVandal

    Does anyone really care? Buyers care about the product. Has anyone ever given a second thought about the benefits package of anyone associated with a product? And even if someone does, do they really know what is in the best interest of a global worker?

    And image with whom? If the UAW changes its image to appeal to workers, it will have an impossible task to also improve its appeal to their product’s customers, and vice versa.

    We are becoming a service economy with regards to employment (although we will continue to manufacture huge amounts of stuff, with less and less people). Farming was once the dominant area of work for Americans. Rail unions were really the first major unions. Both are now irrelevant in terms of numbers of workers.

    The golden age of American manufacturing was a very short period of time (15 years after WWII) after the remainder of the world’s industrial capacity was bombed to hell. It has been 40 years since Detroit has been in decline.

    The relatively short period of time when either the unions or manufacturers could have had a major political impact are long gone.

    If Detroit builds a compelling product — no one will think twice about unions. If they don’t …. same difference.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Since every company is going to China, the UAW should go to China as well.

    I mean, China is growing and the Big 3, especially GM, have a significant investment there. It makes sense that the UAW does its best to protect auto workers’ rights their. It severs two purposes:

    1) Chinese auto workers’ welfares are improved, which is politically correct and fits the UAW’s ideology.

    2) When Chinese auto workers wage increase, they won’t pose a great danger to the American market once the gate of export opens.

    But of course, it won’t be easy, as the Chinese government is not friendly to organized anything. But hey, that’s where the union should step in, right? If it’s easy, no one would need a union and would just fight individually.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    The whole premise assumes something is wrong with the UAW as they operate in the public image. To be completely blunt TTAC and the comment community is by and large white and conservative. They reflect that roughly 35-40% of the country that voted for Mitt Romney and believe trickle down economics is a functional plan. They laud the value of ‘Right to Work’ when all it has done is decrease wages in states and increase the power of management to fire instead of layoff. You just asked what something they generally hate (or atleast use very veiled language) is doing wrong.

    The basic reality of the situation is Chattanooga was an uphill battle from an ideological standpoint. We’ve seen clear and repeated evidence of blue-collar workers voting against their interest economically over ideological views or cultural views. If it was purely economics they would be glad to garner union solidarity because they could then benefit from the company’s greater success.

    If you want to hate the two-tiered system well lets discuss the hand that GM had in developing it. If they would have gone with one they would have lost thousands if not tens of thousands of jobs. By creating a two-tier system no matter how disconcerting it is they were able to save jobs. Complain and moan all you want but the biggest complaints that actually make sense (i.e. the Unions are always going to be Democrats because Republicans are for management, get that through your damn thick skulls) is one that is tied to management and not the UAW’s.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      You can’t seriously believe that.

      Unions are just not that popular. The right wing may loathe them, but they don’t have many friends elsewhere on the spectrum, either.

      Today, a lot of the country is white collar. Many don’t see the point of unions, don’t belong to a union, and believe that a lot of unions are just a PITA.

      Then you have the grunts who end up with the lower wages within two-tier systems. They often blame the union for skimming the cream off of the top for the legacy workers.

      If you are mirroring what the union movement is thinking, then that movement is in serious trouble. This reminds of me of the tea party voters who failed to see that the GOP was doomed to lose the 2012 presidential election, because they spent too much time inside of the echo chamber to see what was going on outside in the real world.

      • 0 avatar

        > Unions are just not that popular. The right wing may loathe them, but they don’t have many friends elsewhere on the spectrum, either.

        He was talking about among the blue collars, but in any case the main *economic* reason why unionization isn’t an issue with their counterparts is the subsidy of physically difficult to outsource jobs by the gov (ie import barrier) as mentioned before. Remove that barrier and the pressure mounts as “professional” jobs drop to the sometimes 15/yr rates for skilled machine operators.

        But it’s also worth noting that general trends of unionization hasn’t followed these local economic factors for the laborer himself but rather larger political forces, and it becomes more clear where real power pushes from. When they come for the white collars I don’t see much pushback as they’re ideologically groomed to blame themselves as they’ve advocated for others.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        I always appreciate your input Pch but you’re what I would classify as a ‘center-left social liberal’ in that you’re not interested in denying people the right to marry who they want and you wouldn’t mind a minimum wage increase but you’re not in it to win it for true economic change. You may quietly applaud the much farther left economies that crush us in terms of GDP per capita but you’re quite pleased with your position here. You went to business school, you bought the neo-classical arguments about continuous growth and you’ve got yourself a nice slice so your pessimism translates into ‘realism’ or ‘pragmatism.’

        If we’re going to rely on ‘perception’ and ‘confidence’ which amount to unbridled stupidity tied to a mythological outlook on society than organized labor matches big business and congress for historic averages. You know what we love in this country? Our military and police. If you look at the current state of both you would be hard pressed not to find serious faults in the systems. So we can honestly argue that perception is not reality. That changing the view of people isn’t as easy as being better, in fact it seems as long as you’re an accepted authority that has little impact on day-to-day interactions with individuals you’ll be rewarded with high perception value.

        http://www.gallup.com/poll/148163/Americans-Confident-Military-Least-Congress.aspx

        I don’t live an echo chamber, I read the reports. If there is anything to be said about unionism getting stronger it is the practical battles waged away from the public. Unions like business aren’t elected, they’re won by beating your opponent with legal maneuvering and knowing when and where to go after them. The south is still somewhat monolithic in the smaller cities and towns (I’m looking at you Spartansburg and Chattanooga) all the influx to the south is into the major urban centers, Atlanta, Miami, tampa, so on and so forth which is far away from the where the transplants and the exploitative factories are locating.

        As for mundane blue-collar workers, I love them, but they rarely understand the intricate board fights that go on in union negotiations. You can go to them and tell them we can have a two-tiered system that keeps 95% of the workforce or go single-tier and keep only 60% of the workforce. They’re going to vote two-tier and then complain as the people who voted that program in retire and new workers feel cheated even though their job exists because of that two-tiered system. As for me, I don’t like it, but I recognize as the union can’t legally obligate them to stay here because frankly our government is uninterested in US jobs and simply keeping GDP high they had to make a committed move.

        As for why Unions aren’t as popular amongst white-collar workers its because you’re taught that you’re ‘individuals’ and therefor shouldn’t unionize. In the public sector almost every white collar job is unionized. It creates an effective system of identification of the class of job. In the private sector engineers are unionized depending on the field and some scientists are as well. The fact that states and the federal government are always on the fence about recognizing them as a class makes the argument difficult but read any series of horror stories from the tech industry where armies of workers are being brought in to work at computers but do the same basic job and then destroyed without any real compensation makes the argument hard to swallow.

        @VCPlayer -

        There are plenty of reasons to vote against your economic interests in the short-term but decades long battles are almost never logical. That and lets be blunt, the social conservative wants to enshrine their bigoted views into law. If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get one. We’re just endlessly repeating the Jim Crow story with each individual group and cause. Inevitably you lose because the weight of liberty is against you. That being said, those 61 million people don’t matter, that’s roughly 20% of the US’ adult population. Roughly 21% voted in favor of our current president.

        The biggest kicker for anybody on either side of the fence was that 20% that voted for Romney is old. They’re over the age of 45 on average (and much closer to the age of 60 for median). That group just isn’t going to be around in 20 years as it appears Gen X is 60/40 liberal, Gen Y is closer to 70/30, and the next generation is creeping even closer to 75/25. Barring some massive reversal of fortunes demographically (and considering those gains are mainly due to non-whites) suggests that it won’t, atleast not for 30-40 years. So I’m not discounting them, they certainly count, but their views are completely unhinged from any economically reliable numbers and almost continuously advocate for policies that are detrimental to everybody that isn’t part of the top-20% of society. So why should I care about what they say? They had their chance, they got to run this country into the ground from 1970 to 2008 (and even now still hold a fair bit of waning power) but now it’s my turn and if we can wrestle the power away from the moderates to actually change economics we will.

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          What kind of organizations do you think are lobbying for increasing police and prison guard jobs, and reduced police accountability? Oh yeah, your favorite.

          “In a state where more than two-thirds of crime is attributable to recidivism, CCPOA [California Correctional Peace Officers Association] has spent millions of dollars lobbying against rehabilitation programs, favoring instead policies that will grow the inmate population and the ranks of prison guard unions. In 1999, it successfully killed a pilot program for alternative sentencing for nonviolent offenders. In 2005, it helped kill Schwarzenegger’s plan to reduce overcrowding by putting up to 20,000 inmates in a rehabilitation program. It opposes any tinkering with the ‘three strikes law’ that might thin the prison rolls.”

          http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-11-25/opinion/ct-oped-1125-goldberg-20111125_1_prison-population-inmate-population-prisoners-today

          • 0 avatar

            > What kind of organizations do you think are lobbying for increasing police and prison guard jobs, and reduced police accountability? Oh yeah, your favorite.

            The kind of people voting for the get tough legislation tend to be conservative. That’s why the Willie Horton ad was effective among other obvious reasons.

            The prison/police or any other unions go against the GOP out of immediate self-interest also for obvious reasons already adequately stated.

            I can tell this is not going to go well.

        • 0 avatar
          VCplayer

          “Social conservatives” aren’t just a giant monolithic group either, they have a lot of goals that have nothing to do with gay marriage. Also, just calling their views “bigoted” is pretty dismissive of the nuance of why they feel the way that they do about the issue. Those people might be dismissive of the views of gay marriage activists themselves, but trying to talk about it seems like a better idea than shouting slogans about it. Isn’t our president always telling us to talk these things out?

          Also, the youth vote is always more liberal. As people get older, they tend to adopt more conservative views. I’m not sure demographic changes are going to significantly impact that. The Baby Boomer generation was pretty liberal when they first gained power. True, some issues will swing liberal, but others will swing conservative. Abortion for example has swung much more in the conservative direction since the 70s. And these are all generalizations anyways. I suspect most presidential elections swing more on how people are feeling about their lives and the party in power than particular issues.

          I’m also not sure why you’re so eager to blow up the economy. It isn’t perfect, but generally even poor Americans enjoy a relatively high standard of living (I’ve been one). Changing it might be a good thing, but you’re risking an awful lot too.

          • 0 avatar

            > Also, the youth vote is always more liberal. As people get older, they tend to adopt more conservative views.

            This is a common misconception because when looking at a snapshot in time it’s easy to misjudge that the youth of now will turn into the geezers of now, when the original question is one *through* time, ie. the youth of yesteryear and what they turned into. Turns out people more or less stay the same and society is steadily liberalizing at the ratios in the parent post.

            > Changing it might be a good thing, but you’re risking an awful lot too.

            What he’s talking about already exists to a reasonably successful extent today. I mean, we’ve already communized the economy of politics in the west and actively spread it across the world, right?

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            So, why do social conservatives want to enforce their views through legislation? Ultimately the ‘social conservative’ group amounts to a very large majority of white Christians. Most of their views are attached to the religion and the assumptions they make in it. It doesn’t necessarily make them bigoted but the biggest part of their effective agenda is about keeping individuals from doing what they should have a right to do. Creationism dosen’t belong in schools, gays should marry, the series of issues all tie to the idea of a theocracy.

            As for your ‘people get more conservative as they get older’ is a complete and utter myth. The people who voted for FDR voted for Kennedy, LBJ, Humphries, and McGovern. It wasn’t like they changed. Basically the people who put Kennedy and LBJ in were the FDR voters. The people who put Reagan and the Bushes in were Nixon/Reagan voters. Now we’re looking at generations that grew up loving Clinton and resenting Bush. It also has to do with the growing non-white vote that has no reason to vote conservative since the conservative movement in this country is uniquely tied to the white privilege.

            Pch101 – I don’t consult for the unions, I work occasionally on issues with them I’m not on their staff nor do I work on their ‘PR’ instead I focus on the why and how to win. If you’re telling me that Unions don’t have great left-wing friends and really strong right-wing enemies then it is something I know. The argument here is that once again the non-white voters are the ones that Unions need to win and court the progressive left better. If they do that then the battle will be less about ‘what is wrong’ and more about ‘why aren’t they larger’ though once again, if we could have 3 democratic presidents in a row that would keep the NRLB pro-union they would easily regain the numbers they had.

            The battle is uphill but it isn’t unattainable.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “once again the non-white voters are the ones that Unions need to win and court the progressive left better.”

            No wonder unions are losing membership.

            You seem to be more interested in your agenda than the workers’ agendas. The average candidate for the labor movement wants decent pay, benefits and working conditions, and some element of job security. They don’t necessarily see locking horns with management as the best way to get those things.

            Like everything else, the union movement is a product. If you want to sell it, then you need to listen to your customers, rather than to your own voice. Social justice as a value proposition doesn’t work.

          • 0 avatar

            > Social justice as a value proposition doesn’t work.

            The bigger problem is when a value proposition as a value proposition doesn’t work.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            Could you be any more of a businessman, PCH? Seriously you shilled so much neo-classical ideology that doesn’t actually apply to psychology but works well in a boardroom I’m not sure what you’re point was. As far as I can tell one of the biggest issues with Unions has been the continued growth in non-white segments of the Union (especially with the SEIU) that getting non-whites more involved in the labor movement and thus getting them intricately intertwined with the unions and the Democrats.

            At this point, I’ve satisfied my point. If you feel the need to offer up more free business advice I can direct you to the UAW.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            You’re like a leftist version of the Tea Party. You’re so enthralled by your own dogma that even basic precepts of reality are too much for you to grasp.

            The facts are on my side. Union membership has shrunk, and social justice is of minimal interest to most Americans, particularly the working stiffs who don’t have enough time to indulge in it.

            You seem more intent on losing the battle your way than in winning. That makes you vulnerable to your opponents, who are and will continue to exploit that weakness. You’re your own worst enemy — you may as well join the GOP, as you’re doing their bidding quite nicely with your failure to produce a decent counterattack.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            You’ve posted four times in this article and you’ve made eight references to “white” or “non-white” regarding a race and not a job type (i.e. “white collar”), at least one reference in each post. In the several years I have read comments on this site I cannot recall anyone so concerned with race in an article on any topic.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            The second you called me a left wing version of the tea party I stopped reading. There are no facts outside of unionism has gone down in the public sector. Social justice actually rates relatively high amongst non-whites and blue collar workers.

            Please, Pch, save your boardroom swill for somebody who’s willing to pay you for it. I’m sure plenty of capitalists love your ‘realism’ approach. But I can safely step back and not be sold that way. Thanks for considering me ultra-left when I’m a progressive liberal. I’m not even advocating for true socialist ownership at this point.

            EDIT: 28 – I’m a specialist on race relations. Does that bother you that I talk about race or do you want to pretend the world is beyond racism?

            Racism shapes our social interactions more than just the KKK. There are serious cultural divides and the major issue within the US involving race and economics is that non-whites traditionally view capitalism as racist which in effect it is. There are no boardrooms that express the current picture of America. The vast majority of large and medium corporations are held and controlled by whites and the system isn’t changing to let non-whites in. I could write a treatise on the matter, but why bother? At least, why type one here….I have written on it, extensively.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Simply an observation. I find it interesting as most, but not specifically you, leftists point at everyone else and accuse them of racism and yet many of those turn out to be incredible bigots themselves.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            If unionism is going to make a comeback, then it needs to make inroads in the private sector and that obviously isn’t happening.

            Again, I simply don’t understand this compulsion to lose in style, rather than to win. The taming of laissez faire capitalism and the successes of the civil rights movement have taken a lot of the wind out of the sails of the progressive movement, as a lot of those past injustices have been addressed to the satisfaction of many.

            If you run the same ground game that was conducted in previous decades, then you are going to keep losing. Perhaps your role in academia shelters you from the experiences of the average person who might actually be receptive to the union concept if only it could provide something that they wanted.

          • 0 avatar

            X> Could you be any more of a businessman, PCH? Seriously you shilled so much neo-classical ideology that doesn’t actually apply to psychology but works well in a boardroom I’m not sure what you’re point was.

            P> You’re like a leftist version of the Tea Party. You’re so enthralled by your own dogma that even basic precepts of reality are too much for you to grasp.

            The contention there seems to between ideology vs. self-interested reason as human motivator. This has gone on since antiquity and it’s not going to be resolved here but some general observations apply to the situation:

            1. It’s undeniable that american conservatism prioritizes ideology (incl religion) over self-interest. Speaking of “freedom” while peddling the serf mentality, denying other people stuff even if it’s no benefit to themself, etc. By conservatism I don’t mean the GOP since it’s obviously not just them who believe in this.

            2. This is undeniably a strong motivator, considering many are literally stack ranking faith to an idea before their own personal interests. That’s not a value judgement but the reality of it.

            3. Countermeasures to this should be considered against where they lie on that stack ranking. Countering the ideology or countering with self-interests are options here. I think everyone can take it from here themselves.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Some people seek out ideological social movements because they provide a sense of community and identity. Most people don’t bother with them.

            All kinds of people get jobs. Most of them just want to make a living, and bring no overriding political identity into the workplace.

            Jobs aren’t a social movement. As is stands, a lot of the workers in these types of jobs are moderate, conservative or apolitical — how exactly is leftist political theory supposed to motivate those people?

          • 0 avatar

            > Some people seek out ideological social movements because they provide a sense of community and identity. Most people don’t bother with them.

            Your claim seems to be that the stuff of elections and whatnot aren’t broadly motivational. This certainly isn’t very evident considering what posts at for example TTAC, which has a good selection of material on offer, get attention.

            > All kinds of people get jobs. Most of them just want to make a living, and bring no overriding political identity into the workplace.

            To continue this analogy, some sites avoid the politics of it by avoiding potentially political content (sometimes via enforcement) altogether. But on the other hand unionization is quite a political issue AND one that provides no selfish incentive for the management to introduce. Do you see the problem here?

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            28 – Completely sorry for my sharp criticism.

            I’m not sure I would be considered a covert racist. I like most people have caught myself wanting to use a racial slur here and there. I realize though that those feelings are wrong and something I put effort into curtailing. Growing up in an integrated neighborhood and well…we’re both Pittsburghers, we know this City isn’t a champion of racial progress by any means has left me with a very deeply ingrained feeling of defending and siding with African-americans first. The non-white blue collar people are the people I wholly feel part of regardless of my current status.

            But that is besides the point. The problem for racism has become we’ve moved from dejure to defacto racism. Nobody is hosing or letting dogs out on these people but they’re still being denied access to the rest of society’s benefits. But that’s neither here nor there.

            Pch – I don’t think I was going to go into a workplace and shout social justice at these people. I believe my more nuanced approach was to use the social justice angle on non-whites to ally them with unions since that is the biggest chance to grow. There is some evidence specifically in the west as an effective strategy. Getting Hispanics to accept unionization (since historically unions have kept non-whites out for various reasons). Once you get them on board the fight in services and non-manufacturing unions will get easier as there will be less wedge workers to use.

            As for the south and unionization, that’s a battle for the ages. Their best bet is to come in low and slow. Don’t come in brash and try and sell liberalism to these workers immediately because they aren’t going to bite. They’re mostly white, high school educated, and rural workers. They represent a very hard class to win over so the best bet is to play up a carefully constructed populist aim. Promote the wage increases, deescalate the threat of moving abroad by promoting the ‘Made in America’ agenda, and generally sell a mix of nationalism with populism and a healthy dose of patriotism as well. Fine tuning the message in Chattanooga is all about deflating the right’s sails and start using their own words against them selling the idea that it is the right who is only interested in selling out to the highest bidder and that if the plant shuts down because you asked for a dollar more than it was the right who enhanced that position by not putting in pressure to stop it.

            I’m not sure that is an effective strategy but it’s worth a shot since it seems to work at the visceral level that conservatives seem to yearn for. That fire in your belly kind of anger you can get behind.

          • 0 avatar

            > how exactly is leftist political theory supposed to motivate those people?

            Also, just to be clear since you’re replying to me: I’m not introducing leftist political theory. Pointing out the stupidity of rightist political theory isn’t the same thing.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “Your claim seems to be that the stuff of elections and whatnot aren’t broadly motivational.”

            I think that I’m pointing out the obvious, which is that a minority opt to join social movements, so their memberships are determined by self-selection.

            In contrast, a lot more people take these lower tier jobs, and they do so in order to get a paycheck. In few cases did some sort of political or social movement drive them to take a particular job — they just need to earn a living. The demographic at the workplace will probably be broader than any one social movement.

          • 0 avatar

            > I think that I’m pointing out the obvious, which is that a minority opt to join social movements, so their memberships are determined by self-selection.

            Note that most all of these political actors seem quite collected in the car articles as I’m sure they are in their day jobs. I’m pointing out the obvious overwhelming numbers (ie as direct proxy for motivation) that result when politics pops up.

            Also consider what I’ve written here about unions vs self-interest: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/guest-post-jamie-kitman-on-the-battle-of-chattanooga/#comment-2816361

            Is it your case that the picture of lazy overpaid union workers are isolated minority opinions? Didn’t you just speak of the position of unions in the *liberal* party above?

            > In contrast, a lot more people take these lower tier jobs, and they do so in order to get a paycheck. In few cases did some sort of political or social movement drive them to take a particular job — they just need to earn a living.

            The little people getting screwed isn’t exactly new, it’s been that since even before the serfing days. Likewise the ideologies which let them justify it to themselves instead of doing something about it go back just as long. What do you think the functional value of the church was to people who ran things?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Xeranar

            No problem, I suppose if you work in the labor field thoughts on race go through your mind more often than the average person. Although I can’t speak to the greater ills of society I might have a more interesting perspective than most. My current employer although a technical firm employs many people from other countries or cultures. Its also not uncommon for folks to fly in from the international offices to work with us on projects. Last spring I worked with a very nice lady from China on a Chinese language project and learned a great deal about her culture. She was actually born near the city where Hongqi cars were built, and explained to me how Chinese people were as a whole very immersed in an auto culture. I think when a person gets positive exposure to other races/cultures they see the shortsightedness of their previous racist ideas.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hongqi_%28marque%29

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          I didn’t provide my opinion about unions. Instead, I provided my assessment of their lack of political clout.

          Again, my points to you:

          -Their opponents on the right really, really hate them…

          -…But most of their allies are not particularly gung ho about them, and there are opponents and skeptics on the home team

          Accordingly, the unions are in a weak position. Their allies aren’t particularly loyal, while their opponents are determined.

          Again, if you are a consultant to these guys, then you are doing them a tremendous disservice. Do you want to look out for their best interests, or just peddle happy talk?

    • 0 avatar
      VCplayer

      “We’ve seen clear and repeated evidence of blue-collar workers voting against their interest economically over ideological views or cultural views.”

      Economics isn’t the most pressing issue for everyone. As much as social scientists would like it to be, plenty of people choose not to maximize their earnings for a variety of reasons. I’m not really okay with living in a country where I’m not allowed to let my personal considerations effect my economic choices.

      Also, Romney won 47.2% of the popular vote. That’s a minority, but a huge one representing nearly 61 million people. Now maybe those 61 million people are wrong, but brushing them aside as ignorant/foolish/southern/etc. leads to the current system of political rancor in this country. Perhaps they had reasons that were not entirely crazy for voting against Obama?

      • 0 avatar

        > Economics isn’t the most pressing issue for everyone. As much as social scientists would like it to be, plenty of people choose not to maximize their earnings for a variety of reasons. I’m not really okay with living in a country where I’m not allowed to let my personal considerations effect my economic choices.

        Democracy is generally predicated on self-interest. The economic part of this is sometimes sacrificed for moral standing (ie redistributing to the have-nots even if it doesn’t pay dividends), but sacrificing for the haves is just an objectively dumb choice all around. Smart people don’t let themselves get taken advantage of by mere trifle ideologies, and the people preaching this “freedom” crap from the top certainly didn’t get there by being dumb.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @agentmarx
          WTF?

          Without us captialists’ there would be nothing.

          The ability to create with nothing is what improves us.

          If something is of little value or more importantly doesn’t offer capital gain, who will invest.

          This also impacts employment as well. As an example, should the pencil makers union regulate that all pencils must be hewn by hand to increase employment and state they must earn X dollar per hour.

          But the who will subsidise those workers if the Canadian’s have automated machinery to mass produce pencils? Why would you then buy an American handmade pencil?

          Are they of value to a country?

          This is what unions must understand.

          What is the real worth of their efforts. What can they offer the US to be more competitive, not just within the country but externally.

          I know have the unions ever thought of taxes, I’ll call it the pencil chicken tax and we should make it 25%. So all Canadian pencils are taxed at 25%. Or why don’t we have our design regulations just that little bit different to make it more awkward and increase the cost of importing a pencil.

          It quite hard and cold in the real world.

          You must be an arts degree’d socialist.

        • 0 avatar
          VCplayer

          I’m not sure you and I are talking about exactly the same thing. Of course people vote for their own self-interest, but their goals are not necessarily economic ones. Social conservatives for example will vote in ways that are contradictory to their economic interest but supportive of their social goals. Likewise, environmentalists are basically voting that the economy needs to become less efficient to accommodate the environment in the long term. You mentioned social welfare already.

          I’m pretty loathe to call the logic of any of those groups in to question just because they vote in ways that don’t make economic sense. They are voting for what they want, it just doesn’t get them more money.

          • 0 avatar

            > Of course people vote for their own self-interest

            My comment specifically addressed how they don’t.

            > Social conservatives for example will vote in ways that are contradictory to their economic interest but supportive of their social goals.

            Most of them certainly don’t think so. Perhaps you can find examples admitting this.

            > I’m pretty loathe to call the logic of any of those groups in to question just because they vote in ways that don’t make economic sense. They are voting for what they want, it just doesn’t get them more money.

            This makes no sense unless your argument is that all goals are created equal and stupid/counterproductive ones don’t exist; I just argued they did with a specific example, did you miss it?

          • 0 avatar
            VCplayer

            “This makes no sense unless your argument is that all goals are created equal and stupid/counterproductive ones don’t exist; I just argued they did with a specific example, did you miss it?”

            There are stupid/counterproductive goals, I’m just not sure it’s up to you or I to judge the worth of each.

            I know a man who has been invaluable to his employer, a major insurance company. He has refused promotion on a number of occasions. I asked him why and he replied that he has no desire for additional responsibility and no need for the additional compensation. He has mad a poor economic choice, but one which he seems to be quite happy with.

            Likewise, we can use this VW plant to show a similar point. Perhaps a worker there acknowledges that their earnings may increase if they vote in favor of the UAW (I’m not sure this is assured, but let’s assume it is). However, this worker also views abortion as a morally evil practice and discovers that the UAW is supportive of abortion. If the worker then votes against the UAW, the worker his voted against his or her direct monetary interest due to a moral choice.

            Both of these people chose to go against their monetary interest in favor of a different goal. I’m just saying that it would be narrow-minded of us to assume that the more economically viable goal has to be the best one.

          • 0 avatar

            > I asked him why and he replied that he has no desire for additional responsibility and no need for the additional compensation.

            The promotion is for more stressful work for more pay, compared to the general union deal of more pay for same work. The choices in each are not alike. An economic choice isn’t just maximize price, but (price/effort).

            > If the worker then votes against the UAW, the worker his voted against his or her direct monetary interest due to a moral choice.

            You posed this hypothetical in what I replied to, which is why I asked for real-world examples where a “choice” occurs. My observation has been that american conservatives almost unerringly prioritize clinging to their serf econ ideology so it’s not really a choice at all. At best they consider it a “free” choice for those other than themselves.

          • 0 avatar
            VCplayer

            So basically you’re saying that my hypothetical worker isn’t actually exercising free choice because his ideology was imposed on him by some economic superior that is interested in the worker choosing lower wages? Did I understand that correctly?

            If you believe that I guess I would have a hard time persuading you otherwise. I would reply that in my experience humans are incredibly complex and make both wise and poor choices based on a huge number of variables. Perhaps some of them have been duped, but I would consider it a dim view of the intelligence of the plant workers to assume that they all were.

          • 0 avatar

            > Perhaps some of them have been duped, but I would consider it a dim view of the intelligence of the plant workers to assume that they all were.

            In this case I can only reason on what can be observed, so it’s possible people have inner agendas they never speak of publicly. For example, I’ll stop by Walmart if the alternative means driving out of my way to get something, but I’m also explicit about the nature of systemic effects vs individual contributions. In any case it’s rather unfair to assume hidden variables exist with no evidence.

            If you’re talking the recent unionization vote, there wasn’t really a diff in pay or other immediate benefits, so it was much closer in nature to a referendum on unionization and the UAW in particular rather than a calculation of ideology vs selfishness.

        • 0 avatar
          jkross22

          “Smart people don’t let themselves get taken advantage of by mere trifle ideologies”

          Sure they do. It happens in every election cycle. Smart people make foolish choices all the time because they have indeed be suckered into believing whatever snake oil salesman pitch they chose to believe.

          “I’m going to lower unemployment”
          “I’m going to create jobs”
          “I’m going to get America energy independent”

          And on and on.

          • 0 avatar

            Those aren’t ideologies. In general promising a job and not delivering is fundamentally different than promising wealth in the next life if you work hard in this one.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s so hard overcoming the proletariat’s false consciousness.

  • avatar
    VCplayer

    First off, great idea for an article; much better than New York lawyer verses unreadable anonymous.

    The UAW has to re-evaluate what it’s goals are. We live in a global economy, and that isn’t going to change. What you can get compensation wise from a manufacturer is going to be limited not only by that manufacturer’s ability to stay in business but also their willingness to move production to other countries. Ford wouldn’t have plants in Mexico if American plants always made economic sense. $30 an hour entry salaries are not a thing that’s going to happen (at least not before inflation does). In general, being less adversarial in relating to management and ownership could go a long ways to everyone making the company better. Constantly antagonizing management eventually leads to meetings where someone says, “You know what, it’d only cost $10 billion to move everything to Thailand,” as everyone nods about who much simpler that would make their jobs.

    The UAW isn’t only providing a service to its members, its essentially selling the labor to the manufacturers. Focus on improving the worth of labor to manufacturers and suddenly they have a reason to offer better compensation. What if UAW was synonymous with quality vehicle assembly instead of wrenches found inside of doors and poorly installed interior trim? Make quality work a reality, then advertise it like crazy. Get NBC producers to do a reality show about it. Even if it isn’t 100% true, at least make people think that it is.

    As I mentioned above, the UAW also needs to move to a more politically neutral stance. This will take a lot of time, but I think it’s worthwhile. They will never win over everyone, but at least you make it hard for anyone but extremists to give you a hard time. Start small and move the ship, don’t give up if it isn’t working right away.

    The world is changing. The UAW needs to change with it, or it will be replaced by a more deserving entity.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    The UAW has a good shot if they can make it about them vs the most damaged brands in America, the Republican Party and the Tea Party.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @billfrombuckhead
      The Republican party is fractured by the wacko Tea Party.

      What would be ironic in US politics is if the right of the Dems and the left of the GOP create a new party and leave the rest on the fringes.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        You mean…that magic middle myth that people like to believe in but doesn’t actually exist? Roughly on the american political system you have from Left to Right:

        Progressives – Establishment Democrats – Establishment Republicans – Tea Party

        There really isn’t some ‘middle’ that exists as conservative democrats and establishment republicans are nearly overlapping and you find they basically promote corporatism. For the Tea Party they stretch that view to extreme Corporate monopolies and for Progressives they fight against that corporatism by attempting to offer a new direction and more control by citizens over the actions of business. We’ve done the middle and continue to do so..It hasn’t worked.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    You guys burp ever claimed to be the New York Times, and nothing you guys have done has been as bad as they have done.

    Don’t change.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    The UAW needs to look to the top. It’s not the brand, or the policies, it’s leadership. My opinion.

  • avatar

    The UAW has an image problem but it’s going to be the same problem that any large org with their political affiliation are going to have.

    Consider what people think when they picture unions: “those clowns are way overpaid/underworked”. This basically means “I don’t want my boss to overpay/underdemand because that’s where my loyalties lie”, which is the classic serf mentality from days past. It might make sense if the lords reciprocate this loyalty but that hardly seems the case here.

    On the other hand, free thinking self-interested people would reply: “hey, I want to get those benefits too myself”. Yet that’s not our “free” society seems to be told to think.

    The question is then how a “free” people came to act like serfs, and therein lies the answer to UAW’s problems.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    I would agree that limiting political activities seems like a start if we are talking how average, non union types outside of the industry view them. As to getting new members, I think the two tier pay system probably hurts them. Why as a perspective member would I be inclined to join an organization that treats me as a second class citizen.

    And some things need to modernize. The average joe looks at the union with its pensions and says “I don’t get that stuff, why should my tax dollars go towards ensuring they get to keep those benefits.” I am a Soldier so next to the unions I think we are the last fold with a pension still and honestly, it won’t be around much longer. New recruits will probably see some sort of 401k by the time they retire.

  • avatar
    JD321

    Branding? So…Muggers have a branding problem…They are just “Perceived Thieves” then.

    Let’s rebrand muggers…They are just highly-paid professional custodians of other people’s lives and earned property who play a leadership role in society.

    I guess if the Propagandizers can get the little people to call politicians “Leaders”, then I guess they can get them to “think” and do anything.

    • 0 avatar

      > I guess if the Propagandizers can get the little people to call politicians “Leaders”, then I guess they can get them to “think” and do anything.

      Those people did get voted in, but I’m sure we’d be better off with you at the head of the Republic.

  • avatar
    JD321

    “Without us captialists’ there would be nothing”

    You mean without capitalists there would be nothing for the parasitic liberal/socialist brats and bum to have their government steal for them. Look at Detroit…There is nothing left to steal…It should be their motto.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      You do realize that we had the best growth of GDP and real wages under ‘liberal/socialist’ policies. But that’s besides the point, capitalists rely on being able to extract unpaid for surplus labor from their workers. If each individual was capable of selling their labor for its full value we wouldn’t have a capitalist class. In effect the only value that capitalists can claim is that they move the capital around but even then that is handled by individuals under that class most of the time. As it stands, Capitalists are just leeches upon the society that runs just as well without them. I work for a university, you work for some company, but capitalists simply leech off the value of my work and your work.

      • 0 avatar

        Value can never be determined by an individual. Value is determined when two parties come to an agreement in commerce, and then, trade only takes place when each party values what the other is offering equal to or more than the value they place on their own property that they are offering in trade. The “value” of labor is no greater than the value of anything else needed to operate an enterprise. What makes one enterprise more successful than another is the entrepreneurial idea behind it, not the labor or materials. If I make a windfall profit I’m no more obligated to my employees than I am to those who sell me other things for my business.

        For someone so certain of the value of your own ideas, you don’t seem to recognize the value of an idea that can leverage other people’s specialized work into something of greater worth.

        Nothing, including labor, has any inherent value:

        youtube.com/watch?v=rFGYC6XPUGk

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          There is no added value. There is only surplus labor, the exchange price is a price people are willing to pay beyond value based on certain beliefs, characteristics, or perceptions. It is fetishism at its finest (if we’re going to quote marx or more or less paraphrase him).

          Value as a form of labor can be expressed in hours or currency or any variant form there of. The addition of layers of price are placed on them to introduce ‘value’ but aren’t really adding anything. Once the production of a car is done anything done to increase the price beyond the cost of labor is price, not value.

          I’m not necessarily arguing that, but if we’re going to be philosophical I can use marx or go with a more Galbraith or Keynes notion that a majority of the surplus value going back to the workers or ‘masses’ you end up with liquidity traps (like we faced in 2008 and to some extent today) where we have a huge surplus of currency in the hands of capitalists who can’t use it fast enough to enhance monetary velocity or circulation (depending on the terminology).

          Once again, I would restate my point is not against managers or planners who help organize labor into a useful force but against the very top level capitalists who are essentially using their money to create more money without inputting any value into the system. Even managers and planners add value. To use a car dealership the owner uses a principal because they’re not competent or uninterested in running it themselves. Thus the principal adds value by using their knowledge to produce a management form (via schedule and what not). The owner simply takes a share of value for no other reason than a forward placed stake of currency to ‘finance’ the business.

          If you believe we have no value except what place we put on it then you must also assume a zero-sum situation where I can only slice the pie after I made the pie and that pie can grow no bigger or smaller without me adjusting the slices in accordance with the predetermined arrangements but that indicates that price is directly connected to value but as we know wages do not rise and fall based on the final price of sale but instead remain relatively constant even as prices fluctuate with relatively speed and variance.

        • 0 avatar

          > What makes one enterprise more successful than another is the entrepreneurial idea behind it, not the labor or materials.

          In practice this is rarely true. It makes for a nice horatio alger type narrative, but most work near the top is administrative and astonishing uninformed about important details. Capitalism is more a story of coincidental luck or the least worst blunders by people with access to the system. Now there’s value in administration and leadership and initiative and all that jazz, but how much to is as much an artificial equation of choice (our laws/rules) as hapstance. Consider reading some Warren Buffet if you don’t want to take my word for it.

          On a more general note, this isn’t really a subject that’s trivial to plow into. The books/ideas that started it from Nations to Capital are more philosophical and nuanced than commonly portrayed. Jesus, Smith, and Marx are perhaps 3 of the most misunderstood people of all time.

        • 0 avatar

          RE: “Value can never be determined by an individual. Value is determined when two parties come to an agreement in commerce, and then, trade only takes place when each party values what the other is offering equal to or more than the value they place on their own property that they are offering in trade.”

          YES!!!! The retail auto business summed up in a few words, as well as the economic facts of life!!

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            So Ruggles, how do you deal with the issue of economic coercion? Lets use the auto dealer again. Individuals aren’t making decisions on what to price the auto at, that is being dictated by the dealership and network of dealerships in the same geographic area. They’re acting in coercion against the individual buyers so as not to be locked into a price war. Thus the action of the other party is inconsequential and doesn’t come into the debate. That kills the idea that all capitalism and trade is contractual ideals, if anything it seems to indicate that once again we’re discussing exchange rate against value.

            I’m not selling you X amount of my hours of value to work at your dealership to get a new car, I’m trading you future earnings from my job (that doesn’t give me my full value as they have a profit margin and that margin comes from my productivity) and then I’m usually taking a loan which further generates currency but no value as the bank isn’t working for that money, somebody else has worked for it and gave it to the bank to multiply it using a fiduciary approach.

            If anything the argument about value versus exchange rate isn’t even being discussed here because even Friedman and the monetarists acknowledge the basics of Smith and Ricardo and this is coming from them as well.

            If you want to discuss exchange price then we can, but don’t confuse it with my productive value.

          • 0 avatar

            > If you want to discuss exchange price then we can, but don’t confuse it with my productive value.

            The problem here is that our zeitgeist conflates money and value to the extent that people literally cannot think of them as distinct concepts. It requires return to first principles which frankly isn’t going to happen.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    “UAW Files Rejection Of Chattanooga Election Results”

    “Americans File Rejection of UAW”.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    As long as the UAW keeps using the confrontational rhetoric of the ’30s, it can’t be revived. That’s the heart of its former power and the problem moving forward. Painting every difference in an “us vs. them” vein, with “them” being heartless, evil monsters, makes them totally unacceptable to the public, and the wrong partner in any works council.

    The union’s leadership and reps all the way down to the shop floor know keeping the company healthy and competitive preserves jobs and keeps the paychecks coming, but they can’t seem to help themselves when conflict arises, and resort to ugly accusations and disparagement. There’s no way to present the union as a cooperative partner until they bury the rhetoric permanently.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    The problem is that the UAW’s tarnished image is well deserved in most respects. It does seem that the UAW has entered an era where they are more willing then ever to work with management rather than bleed the company for every last cent of profit.

    But look at what the UAW has done in recent years. First, they enact the two tier wage system so that the younger generation gets to take the pain of cuts while the senior members continue to get fat on benefits and inflated wages. That right there goes against almost everything unions stand for. I guess some UAW members are more equal than others. Second, I think it is pretty safe to say that many Americans do not enjoy the lifestyle and income of a Tier 1 UAW member. So you tell me, how upset would you be if you lost your job in the great recession and you see UAW members keeping their jobs, wages, and benefits courtesy of a taxpayer bailout. I am sure there have been plenty people screaming WHERE THE F IS MY BAILOUT!!!

    The bottom line is that the UAW is another interest group, fighting for an unfairly large slice of the pie just like every other lobby in Washington. They attempt to put themselves on a rightious pedistal, claiming responsibility for all of the employee related rights we now enjoy. Without debating the legitimacy of that claim, the UAW now is far from the moral pillar it once was (or claims to be), it is a self serving group and its growth…..its very existance, increasingly comes at the expense of the general public. There is only so much pie.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    “I’m a small L libertarian and I have my differences with the labor movement but I think that the U.S. Constitution, which protects freedom of association and contract rights, provides a sound basis for saying that Americans have the right to form labor unions and try to negotiate collectively, at least in the private sector.”

    Fair ’nuff, but a libertarian would also say that management has the right to resist labor coercion by firing people and hiring those willing to work under the terms that management prefers. If management is unable to find adequate labor, then they lose, otherwise the union loses. Fair & square.

    The question then becomes, who then gets to manipulate the State to coerce the other side more effectively? Management (thru regulatory capture and pol payoffs) or labor (thru pol payoffs and voting)?

    • 0 avatar

      >Fair ’nuff, but a libertarian would also say that management has the right to resist labor coercion by firing people and hiring those willing to work under the terms that management prefers.

      This is worth highlighting to address the claims above that unions should be small and local. Numbers in collective bargaining and such is a strength magnifier. There’s definitive benefits to size same as bigger companies or bigger countries.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      Adair v. United States has something to say about that and it was decided by a 1908 Supreme Court. So perhaps your small L libertarians should really reconsider the position since it is fundamentally unconstitutional.

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        whatever, I’ll just keep voting with my wallet.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        It appears in the Adair case, SCOTUS found quite the opposite of your assertion, at least in the Wikipedia summary: “Having found that the Fifth Amendment barred against limiting the right of an employer to fire an employee due to membership in a labor union, Harlan concluded that Congress could not criminalize such action.”

        In other words, SCOTUS ruling in the Adair case can be para-phrased “an employer has the right to contract with an employee that he not be a member of a labor union and that Adair was on sound legal footing to fire his employee for violating that contract, because to do otherwise was an inappropriate intervention of government in the balance of power between labor unions and employers.

        The last on the case in Wikipedia: “In 1932, yellow-dog contracts were outlawed in the United States under the Norris-LaGuardia Act.”
        The FDR Era saw Federal government put a heavy finger on the scale in favor of labor power, the effects of which are playing out in current times.

  • avatar

    One guy’s opinion:

    http://automotivedigest.com/2014/02/1-achtung-german-work-councils-to-become-uaws-future/


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