Bailout Watch 370: More GM and Chrysler UAW Buyouts. Or Not.

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
bailout watch 370 more gm and chrysler uaw buyouts or not

Announcing the single greatest transfer of wealth in the world in the last six hours. Well, GM and Chrysler would like their United Auto Workers (UAW) employees to take your tax money and quit. That way the ailing American automakers can replace the highly-paid union workers with lower paid union workers (that would still pay the same union dues, ‘natch). And, thus, prove to someone on Capitol Hill that they’re satisfying the provision of their $17.4b “bridge” loans. To that end, GM’s offering its high wage union workers a $20k “bonus” and a $25k car voucher to piss off. Chrysler’s offering $50k and a $25k voucher. But there are all kinds of problems with this plan.

First, the offer is worse than the last go. As The Detroit News reports, last time ’round there was more money on the table. This time, a car voucher replaces cash.

While The DetN (and perhaps GM and ChryCo management) wishfully suggest that the “gift certificate” provision will boost sales, UAW workers are the last people who’d ever consider a new car voucher on a one-for-one basis with George Washingtons.

Second, the union workers simply aren’t buying it. Nor are they likely to. The take-up rate was low for the last round of UAW buyouts. That was before the bailout. Now that Uncle Sam is footing the bill, after their boss vowed to reverse the Big 1.8’s promise to institute wage and benefit parity with their transplant equivalents, why should they?

Third, GM and Chrysler are still chasing falling sales and market share. Even if the take-up rate was higher, they don’t need to replace anybody. So those “replacement hires” are a myth.

I know the automakers must be seen to be trying to satisfy their loan conditions. But this is farce. Punishment glutton and taxpayer that I am, I can’t wait to hear GM CEO Rick Wagoner and Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli explain this one to my elected representatives. In their desperation to stay alive, will the automakers throw the UAW to the wolves? Are there any wolves left?

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  • Njdave Njdave on Feb 03, 2009

    Oh yes I agree. And I WANT a domestic car industry as well. I want to be able to buy a car I really like from an American car company. But when I bought my last car, I wanted an AWD coupe with a reasonably powerful engine, decent handling, and a stick. No American company made such a car, but Mitsubishi made the Eclipse GSX. Too bad they don't make that anymore, either. I don't know what I'll get when this one dies.

  • No_slushbox No_slushbox on Feb 03, 2009

    The Detroit automakers can be successful, or they can employ a lot of US workers with union work rules and high pay and benefits. They cannot do both. If you want them to do the latter then you are sabotaging their ability to do the former.

  • GregLocock Two adjacent states in Australia have different attitudes to roadworthy inspections. In NSW they are annual. In Victoria they only occur at change of ownership. As you'd expect this leads to many people in Vic keeping their old car.So if the worrywarts are correct Victoria's roads would be full of beaten up cars and so have a high accident rate compared with NSW. Oh well, the stats don't agree.
  • Lorenzo In Massachusetts, they used to require an inspection every 6 months, checking your brake lights, turn signals, horn, and headlight alignment, for two bucks.Now I get an "inspection" every two years in California, and all they check is the smog. MAYBE they notice the tire tread, squeaky brakes, or steering when they drive it into the bay, but all they check is the smog equipment and tailpipe emissions.For all they would know, the headlights, horn, and turn signals might not work, and the car has a "speed wobble" at 45 mph. AFAIK, they don't even check EVs.
  • Not Tire shop mechanic tugging on my wheel after I complained of grinding noise didn’t catch that the ball joint was failing. Subsequently failed to prevent the catastrophic failure of the ball joint and separation of the steering knuckle from the car! I’ve never lived in a state that required annual inspection, but can’t say that having the requirement has any bearing on improving safety given my experience with mechanics…
  • Mike978 Wow 700 days even with the recent car shortages.
  • Lorenzo The other automakers are putting silly horsepower into the few RWD vehicles they have, just as Stellantis is about to kill off the most appropriate vehicles for that much horsepower. Somehow, I get the impression the OTHER Carlos, Tavares, not Ghosn, doesn't have a firm grasp of the American market.