Quote Of The Day: The View From The Bunker Edition

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Most employers have vigorously opposed unions with every means at their disposal. These pro-employer, anti-union forces continually attack unions and workers that want to form a union…

…Let’s be clear, the contempt for the UAW was so deep that some of them were willing to let the industry collapse in the hopes that they could destroy us. Even the former president recognized the insanity of what they were willing to do.

Ron Gettelfinger fires up the troops in his final address as UAW President, as quoted in the Detroit Free Press. It might have been a moment for reflection and self-examination, but Gettelfinger served up some old-school, union-hall fire-and-brimstone instead. Only Ron didn’t look in the mirror before giving out his enemies’ description. Gettelfinger’s paranoid take on the auto bailout is actually eerily similar to that of the far right wing, in that they both place the UAW at the center of the bailout.

In this analysis, Detroit’s decades-long fall from grace on countless industry competencies was almost incidental to the political battle over the survival of the UAW. Objection to the bailout can only be explained by hatred for the UAW. Or, to paraphrase the proud father of the auto industry bailout (himself no fan of the UAW), “you’re either with us or against us.” Gettelfinger need only look to the deep divisions within his own union to understand the folly of such gross generalizations.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Contrarian Contrarian on Jun 14, 2010

    That reminds me of the "Frog and the Scorpion" parabale.

  • Jkross22 Jkross22 on Jun 14, 2010

    Self reflection appears to be above the pay grade of union bosses, UAW and otherwise. Ron is right to some degree... there is contempt for the UAW. Couldn't imagine why.

    • See 1 previous
    • Geeber Geeber on Jun 14, 2010

      His position is an elected one, so he is doing what politicians from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton have always done - tell the true believers what they want to hear, but otherwise do what is necessary to ensure survival when the going gets tough.

  • Tommy Boy Tommy Boy on Jun 14, 2010

    Wasn't the President of PATCO similarly defiant? If we'd had a real President instead of a Cloward-Piven disciple on the indirect union payroll, Gettlefinger and his mob would have learned the real meaning of "concessions" at the hands of a Chapter 11 judge.

    • Len_A Len_A on Jun 14, 2010

      Nonsense. Chrysler bondholders, especially the Indiana police and teachers pension funds tried exactly that, in front of a Chapter 11 judge. Didn't work for them. geeber has an excellent handle on this - it's political, an elected official doing what an elected official has to do in front of their constituency. Nothing more.

  • Tommy Boy Tommy Boy on Jun 14, 2010

    >>Nonsense. Chrysler bondholders, especially the Indiana police and teachers pension funds tried exactly that, in front of a Chapter 11 judge. Didn’t work for them. Yes, but the majority of voting creditors (which the judge deferred to, plus possibly the heat he/she was getting from the regime) went along with the pre-packaged bankruptcy arrangement because the Obama administration leaned on them during the construction of that prepackage. So it was over before it was over as far as the dissenting bondholders went. This was pure banana republic stuff, an Obama and union "redistribution" of wealth from secured bondholders to the unsecured UAW.

    • Len_A Len_A on Jun 14, 2010

      One, unless one of the objectors was going to arrange debtor-in-possession financing for the Chrysler C11 process, they didn't have a leg to stand on. Far from "pure banana republic stuff", the entity that brings the DIP financing to the bankruptcy process is the one who gets to swing the big stick. DIP financing overrules secured creditor status when the financier is not the same entity as the creditor. Secondly, it was far from "'redistribution' of wealth" being the goal. It was saving the entirety of the auto manufacturing industry. A Chrysler or GM failure meant enough parts supplier failures to shut everyone else down - no car production, and an even deeper recession. In fact, only a few suppliers, among them JCI & Margna, were considered strong enough to survive a GM or Chrysler failure. It's ugly, but that the way auto manufacturing, worldwide, is structured. A year later, and the auto parts suppliers are still on shaky ground, thanks to a lack of available credit. Third, the UAW didn't gain as much as critics think. The VEBA's are still underfunded, and the retirees supposed to benefit from the VEBA's have seen a very uneven application of health care benefits, entirely dependent on where any particular retiree lives. Those in Michigan are reported to have somewhat better benefits than any retiree living anywhere else in the USA. Reason is that the laws structuring the VEBA's guarantee a level of spending per retiree, rather than guaranteeing a level of benefits. Same dollar buys more benefits in Michigan, than say, Ohio. Retirees outside of Michigan are up in arms over it, and all retirees saw their benefits cut from previous company supplied health care. Hardly a “redistribution of wealth".