Chrysler Suicide Watch 27: What's Next

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
chrysler suicide watch 27 whats next

How in the world did the United Auto Workers (UAW) boss Ron Gettelfinger think he could get his Chrysler members to ratify their proposed contract without providing job guarantees? Did he seriously believe a $3k signing bonus would convince his otherwise carrot-less union brothers and sisters to surrender their right to graduate into cushy “non core” jobs? Or was Gettelfinger blindsided by his own ego; figuring he could yell “roll over” and “play dead” at 45k well-paid autoworkers and make it so? Either way, the question must be asked: what the Hell is going on?

First, the latest point in our connect-the-dots sequence: a so-called “secret handshake” deal between the UAW and Chrysler. Reuters reports that UAW VP General Holiefield told Local leaders he made an unannounced pact with Chrysler to keep certain U.S. plants open if members ratify the new contract. Assuming Chrysler workers will believe Holiefield– a stretch given the rancor surrounding the po-faced contract– it’s a clever play. But is it true?

If Chrysler owner Cerberus offered their UAW members job guarantees, surely BOTH sides would want them in writing to ensure the new contract’s ratification. There are two possible reasons why the union would hide assurances of job security. Either the UAW knows that this alleged job security is highly selective (i.e. they realize that Chrysler’s about to shut plenty o’ plants) and therefore divisive, or there wasn’t any “secret” deal. It’s just a desperate UAW officer blowing smoke up his members’ collective asses.

No matter how you look at it, the UAW leadership has rolled onto its back doggie style, their members aren’t buying the new deal and the union brass are growing increasingly desperate. To wit: not only did the International approve the contract by voice vote, but they aren’t reporting ANY member voting totals. The Locals are playing fast and loose with the numbers as well. The Detroit News says that three quarters of their yes/no stats arrive as percentages, rather than precise numbers.

Could the UAW cheat their way to ratification? Sure. And if the subterfuge is discovered, there will be Hell to pay– within the UAW, relative to Chrysler and, lest we forget, over at Ford. And what will happen if the rank and file reject the contract? The key to this conundrum, indeed, the explanation for this incipient chaos, lies within the UAW’s six-hour strike with Chrysler.

It’s critical to note that the Chrysler strikette represented a split within the union, rather than a united push for more concessions. After the UAW walked out, they did not return to the bargaining table; they simply signaled Chrysler that they were ready to sign. Lead negotiator Bill Parker’s immediate and public opposition to the deal is proof positive that the UAW was of two minds. And the bit that said this is as good as it’s ever gonna get won.

Think of it this way: Union boss Ron Gettelfinger understands that Chrysler is a company staring down the barrel of Chapter 11. He also knows Cerberus stands ready, willing and able to let its 45k union employees go on strike– and break it. He must have figured it’s better to capitulate now and make it look like tough negotiation, rather than face Cerberus’ nuclear winter. And he may have been emboldened by his success at GM.

But there’s one thing Gettelfinger didn’t/doesn’t understand: his members’ ignorance and militancy.

The average Chrysler worker doesn't believe that his or her employer is about to go under. They don't appreciate the fact that Chrysler’s lack of a foreign sales safety net makes it especially vulnerable. They don't understand that one of the world’s richest private equity firms will hang the company out to dry in a New York minute if they think it’s an irredeemable money pit. All they know is that someone’s getting screwed and it’s us. As usual.

Gettelfinger’s mob forgot to sell union members on the idea that Cerberus holds all the cards. Saying that, how could they? Big Ron couldn’t risk calling a “real” strike to get his members in line– because they would have lost. And he couldn’t tell the truth about his position, because he would have been considered weak, and the members might not have bought it anyway. But the truth is neither Gettelfinger nor his members can avoid the truth.

If Chrysler workers [s]are allowed to[/s] reject the contract, the UAW goes back to the bargaining table. Chances are nothing much will change. The leadership will re-present virtually the same contract and hope the members have “got it out of their system” and approve the deal (a la National Steel in the early ‘90’s). If Gettelfinger’s regime can’t withstand the fallout and/or gets caught cheating, the new leadership will call a strike. And lose.

[Interview with Greg Shotwell of the Soldiers of Solidarity below]

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2 of 34 comments
  • ZoomZoom ZoomZoom on Oct 26, 2007

    Sure it would. But any good investor is prepared to take a sooner but smaller loss in order to prevent a future but bigger loss.

  • LLC LLC on Oct 26, 2007

    I like that philosophy. I will recommend it to all my friends in the UAW.

  • Dave M. I think I last listened to AM after 9/11, but the talk radio cesspool took its toll on my mental health. Prior to that I last listened to AM in the '70s....I'm a 20-year XM subscriber; Apple Music also has me in its grip. For traffic conditions I use Waze, which I've found to be highly reliable.
  • Art Vandelay Install shortwave so I can get numbers stations
  • THX1136 Radio World has been talking about this for a few years now. The public perception of AM has done much to malign it. As some have pointed out, there are parts of the country that work well with AM, especially when considering range. Yes indeed, there are options. To me that's what this is more about. The circuitry for AM is probably all on one chip now - or close to it. It cannot be a matter of cost - even at the inflated manufacturer asking price. Making what appears to be an arbitrary decision and reducing choice seems unwise in the area of radio in vehicles.Some have commented that they never listen to AM 'so I'm not missing it'. I'm guessing that many folks don't use ALL the features their many devices offer. Yet, they are still there for those occasions when one wants to avail themselves. Bottom line for me is it should still be an available option for the folks out there that, for whatever reason, want to access AM radio. Side note: Top 40 radio on AM was where all the music I listened to as a youth (55 years ago) came from, there were few (if any) FM stations at that time that carried the format. FM was mostly classical and talk and wasn't ubiquitously available in a portable form - AM was. FYI, the last I knew all stations - AM & FM - still have to have an EAS system as part of their broadcast chain. It's tested by the FCC at least once a year and all stations must be able to pass along the alert messages or face action from the FCC to correct the situation.
  • Robert I don't know why they don't use a knob for the gear shifter on the console like in the Ford Fusion. Takes up a lot less space than a shifter on the console and looks a lot better than a stalk on the steering column.
  • David S. "Stellantis" a woke company showing off evil ICE trucks!?! Bernie Sanders is having a stroke!!