Chrysler, UAW Dream A Dream: No Strikes (and They're Out)

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
chrysler uaw dream a dream no strikes and they re out

It’s getting to be sports metaphor time for the ChryCo deal: the fourth quarter, the ninth inning, the obese lady’s vocal warm-ups. Automotive News [sub] quotes a White House spokesperson as saying “hurdles still remain, but we remain optimistic and hopeful that something in the next many hours will get done that will provide a pathway for Chrysler’s viability without continued government assistance.” Maybe the White House should read more news. And not just assurances from the UAW’s Ron Gettelfinger who sounds downright thrilled at the possibility of seeing his union gain a controlling stake in ChryCo. No, The Detroit News points out that a grassroots UAW effort to scuttle the deal (which must still be ratified by a full union vote) is underway. “It’s time to stop the concessions. Send them back to the table. We need a week to see the agreement before the vote. Jeep workers should be allowed to vote. Vote no,” runs a letter being circulated amongst UAW workers. Why so confrontational? The (proposed) lack of confrontation.

The Detroit Bureau reports that the new Chrysler arrangement, with the UAW controlling management, is causing concerns among rank-and-file workers. Most of the concerns come from a waiver of the right to strike for several years, a move that many employees worry they “have no choice but to accept.” According to the DB, the “contract calls for binding arbitration on economic provisions for any contract negotiated in 2011. The same provision would apply again in 2015, if Chrysler still owed money to the US government, and the union wages have to be in line with those paid at other auto plants in the US . . . including foreign-owned manufacturers.” And perhaps workers should accept these terms, considering the labor relations tragedies that defined the British Leyland nationalization/restructuring/epic fail experience.

But stripping away the UAW’s most powerful tactic in exchange for union ownership raises real question of whether the UAW even is a union at all anymore. Just don’t bring that semanticist whining to UAW President Ron “I Rule You” Gettelfinger. “We fought to maintain our wages, our health care and our jobs,” wrote Gettelfinger with his union boilerplate thesaurus firmly in hand. “In the face of adversity, we secured new product guarantees, and we negotiated new opportunities for UAW involvement in future business decisions.” Translated into English, this means that the UAW effectively no longer exists, having become a management partner. The question of whom will negotiate with whom and in whose interests is unsurprisingly scaring a number of UAW members.

Throw bondholder holdouts into the equation, and you may just begin to hear the fat lady’s warbling become slightly louder.

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  • AndrewDederer AndrewDederer on Apr 29, 2009

    This isn't exactly unprecedented. In fact, it pretty much par for the course when a company has large downstream obligations to their employees. This is pretty much the same sort of "employee take-over" as happened to a bunch of airlines over the last 15-20 years. Some of them survive, more than a couple didn't live past the next problem issue. This kind of thing happens when the debt-holders and the obligation holders don't agree whether the company's viable. The UAW boys aren't going to get anywhere near what they are owed in a breakup, and neither are the bond-holders. The bond-holders want to take the most they can get for sure (whatever is left after chapter 7) it's much more certain. The UAW guys have to at least float taking equity, whether it's a good idea or not, it's the only way they can possibly (and only possibly) get something close to what the contract says/said. The bond-holders are just looking to get away from the table with as small a loss as possible (they can find another game), for the UAW, this is the only game in town they have to offer to keep playing, even if the odds stink.

  • VanillaDude VanillaDude on Apr 30, 2009

    The lady whose photo you have used is the brilliant, but no longer fat, Debra Voigt. She is one of the world's greatest voices. After she gotten as large as the photo above, she lost over 150 pounds and returned to the stage to take the roles that directors said she was too fat before to take. You see, you can be a car guy, and a classy car guy at the same time! Debra Voigt

  • The Oracle I say let the clunkers stay on the roads.
  • Jpolicke Twenty-three grand for a basket case? And it has '66 wheel covers and gas cap so who knows what else isn't original?
  • Scott Can't be a real 1965 Stang as all of those are nothing but a pile of rust that MIGHT be car shaped by now.
  • 56m65711446 So, the engineers/designers that brought us the Pinto are still working at Ford!
  • Spookiness I dig it. The colors are already available on the CX-50. The terracotta is like a nice saddle brown. The non-turbo Carbon Edition has a bluish gray and a burgundy leather interior. A nice break from the typical relentless black and 50 shade of gray palette. Early CX-30's had some dark navy blue (armest, console, and parts of the door) but I guess that was just too weird and radical so they switched to all-black.I'd be fine with cloth in colors, leather is over-rated, but I'll never have an all-black interior in a car ever again.