Special report: The UAW's last stand

Comments (38)
Dave1968 wrote:

The real truth is noone realy cares wether the next guy lives or dies, Everyone is willing to slash the next guys throat and walk over them to get ahead.In the end we’ll all be working like the chinese, in our walled compounds, wave that flag America!

Dec 29, 2011 8:04am EST  --  Report as abuse
YUPtrev wrote:

Anyone who is a capitalist will be against unions. The free market and invisible hand ensures that the best possible labor for the best price (ie wage) happens withOUT unions. Can anyone remember just a few years back…when unions were going to send cities and towns across the US into municiple bankruptcy?

Dec 29, 2011 9:55am EST  --  Report as abuse
Sensibility wrote:

Unions are relics of a bygone era. Their time to extort money from their members’ salaries and give it to shady politicians in return for kickbacks is at an end. Finally, now that all the pension funds are going broke, the people have seen the folly of union contracts, little more than politically expiated Ponzi schemes. Goodbye, unions. And good riddance.

Dec 29, 2011 10:15am EST  --  Report as abuse
Watcher23 wrote:

Actually, this is a battle they SHOULD lose. They’ve already destroyed, GM, Ford, and Chrysler. Now they want to ravage those companies that have filled the void? Their (the unions) policies prevent the car manufacturers from building cars that people want to buy. That is, cars the look nice, have great quality, and a good price. Learn!

Dec 29, 2011 10:23am EST  --  Report as abuse
John2244 wrote:

The problem isnt Unions, its the UAW which grew from a history of serious blue collar abuse, and at times racial issues. The UAW operated in an environment where it was the only dog as the US and state government gives very few social benefits to workers in transition, health issues, retraining or retirement. Thats why the UAW got so much power. They represent the worker’s entire life versus their career.

I’ve worked in Germany where the Unions are amazingly strong but their focus is narrow as the German state already buffers workers with many benefits. The unions arent concerned as much about a dollar amount as the fairness for an overall lifecycle employee of 15-20 years as well as the long term profitability of the company. Therefore they do concede to contracting and cuts for the good of the whole. On the whole negotiations are tough but objectives are more aligned. Why wouldnt they be if things like healthcare or unemployment benefits are not part of the picture.

On the whole unions in Germany are efficient by the nature of their environment. The UAW is not.

Dec 29, 2011 11:07am EST  --  Report as abuse
whitner wrote:

With the help of the white house they can affectively ruin ALL auto manufacturing in the U.S.! Detroit is testimony enough!

Dec 29, 2011 11:23am EST  --  Report as abuse
TyroneJ wrote:

No patriotic American would be a member of the UAW after all of the destruction they have done. Almost as much destruction as Wall Street.

Dec 29, 2011 11:38am EST  --  Report as abuse
jbltce wrote:

Unions are 60 years past their usefulness. More harm than good now.

Dec 29, 2011 12:53pm EST  --  Report as abuse
NathanCG wrote:

Konkle’s daughter is the future with no Unions at all. The UAW needs reform, and a refocused mission, but a world without Unions is good for corporations and bad for people. We’ll all be temporary, part time hires, with capped ours and no benefits – as the sea of brown uniforms shows..
These are desperate times, and a job is a job, but we’ll come out on the other side of this thing with no benefits, low wages and no security if we throw the only, if flawed, entity protecting the worker away. You cannot trust the free market or corporations to take care of the worker. This is not the past, the circumstances that created unionization, but forget the past and look for the short term and we’ll lose much of what was gained.

Dec 29, 2011 12:57pm EST  --  Report as abuse
NathanCG wrote:

Konkle’s daughter is the future with no Unions at all. The UAW needs reform, and a refocused mission, but a world without Unions is good for corporations and bad for people. We’ll all be temporary, part time hires, with capped ours and no benefits – as the sea of brown uniforms shows..
These are desperate times, and a job is a job, but we’ll come out on the other side of this thing with no benefits, low wages and no security if we throw the only, if flawed, entity protecting the worker away. You cannot trust the free market or corporations to take care of the worker. This is not the past, the circumstances that created unionization, but forget the past and look for the short term and we’ll lose much of what was gained.

Dec 29, 2011 12:57pm EST  --  Report as abuse
gbr7519 wrote:

Unions are a impediment to competition, and foreign manufacturers know it. Good luck getting them onboard.

Dec 29, 2011 1:01pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Randy549 wrote:

The UAW will have a very difficult time organizing these facilities due to their location in states that have right-to-work laws, where every employee can individually choose to belong to the union or not. In the states without these laws (Michigan, etc.), the union is able to dictate that every employee must belong to the union in order to work at that facility.

There is an almost perfect correlation between whether a firm has plants located in right-to-work states, and whether those plants are union-organized or not. The only exceptions, for example GM’s plant in Tennessee, are the plants where the union is able to apply leverage from the automaker’s other facilities in states without right-to-work laws.

The right-to-work laws are precisely why these automakers chose to locate their plants where they did.

Dec 29, 2011 1:03pm EST  --  Report as abuse
idiotnoir wrote:

unions killed the auto industry. every US car carries a huge load of union pensions and benefits in it’s price. car makers had no choice but to make poor quality cars, it was the only way to stay competitive. car makers have to hire 1.5 employees per position because union employees are so unproductive and have very high rates of absenteeism, yet cannot be fired because of union/mafia rules.
Most americans are going to retire with social security and if they are lucky, a 401k/IRA, they will collect a fraction of their monthly earnings and get crappy ins., but those lazy grossly over-paid union autoworkers will retire with full pensions and benefits, all paid for by the american consumer and taxpayers (remember the auto bail-outs) remember this when you are buying your next car

Dec 29, 2011 1:28pm EST  --  Report as abuse
duet wrote:

UAW bosses accumulate big money and power on the backs of their members. This is what they are fighting for. They will do it thru fear, coertion, fraud and extortion. Their history reveals their future. They don’t care about you and I or their members or the manufacturers or the health of the American economy. Greed is the name, greed is the game.

Dec 29, 2011 1:30pm EST  --  Report as abuse

Just a few truisms:
There is no surer way to kill a plant than to have it unionized.
Money from unions is used to bankroll Democrats.
You want to kill initiative, then unionize.
How to create a permanent sense of entitlement – UNIONIZE.
How to create hatred for management – UNIONIZE.

Have a nice day!

Dec 29, 2011 1:34pm EST  --  Report as abuse
medic wrote:

I look forward to the day when all the states will be resemble Mississippi, Alabama, and etc.Quarter million dollar home surrounded by trailer parks.

Dec 29, 2011 1:50pm EST  --  Report as abuse
JSeagram wrote:

Some of the anti-union comments on display here shows appalling ignorance of economic history and reality. People mindlessly parrot every corporate lie about how damaging unions are. In fact, unions enabled Americans to once have the highest standard of living in the world. They helped win the minimum wage, the 40-hour working week, paid vacations, and fought against exploitation of child labor and so on.. As America’s unionized work force has decreased, wages have stagnated if not fallen in real terms, as employers have walked all over employees.

Two major auto-manufacturing countries, Germany and South Korea, are highly unionized – and workers there increasingly enjoy a better standard of living because of it, while non-union corporate America exports jobs to low-wage countries or demands drastic pay cuts, the type of which no German employee would stand for.

Keep on mindlessly slamming unions guys and watch your standard of living go down the tubes ever more quickly.

Dec 29, 2011 1:50pm EST  --  Report as abuse
OneOfTheSheep wrote:

America today needs unions like a fish needs a bicycle.

Dec 29, 2011 2:11pm EST  --  Report as abuse
davidak159 wrote:

Why no mention of what a union can and has done for workers? I retired with a pension and health care and all my teeth. Union dues are like buying insurance or hiring a lawyer.Someone that only works for you and always has your interest in mind. There is strength in numbers and companies want to be the strong one. ORGANIZE!!!!!!!

Dec 29, 2011 2:12pm EST  --  Report as abuse
USAPragmatist wrote:

JSeagram got it right!

Dec 29, 2011 2:19pm EST  --  Report as abuse
M167A1 wrote:

Unions are a form of organized crime. Their time to extort money from their members and use it to politically bludgeon the rest of us is over.

As another poster so correctly pointed out, these are little more than politically expiated Ponzi scheme.

Dec 29, 2011 2:48pm EST  --  Report as abuse
jsmit wrote:

Ah classic “In early December, the UAW’s executive board convened at its riverfront headquarters in Detroit in a room outfitted with Swedish midcentury furniture.”

It’s so wonderful that the union leaders office is outfitted with midcentury swedish furniture. I wonder did they dip into the strike fund to help decorate?

Dec 29, 2011 2:54pm EST  --  Report as abuse
GLK wrote:

I’ve worked in manufacturing on both sides, Union and Management. While neither side is perfect, speaking from first hand experience I’ll take my chances with the free market. Unions defend the slackers and demoralize the motivated. They bleed companies to the point of collapse. Unions are just a cover for organized crime. I wonder how they’ll launder the drug money they’re poisoning our children with if they go out of business? So yeah, brag about your inflated Union salaries while they last, because when the party’s over you’ll make a perfect Wallmart greeter.

Dec 29, 2011 2:56pm EST  --  Report as abuse
M167A1 wrote:

@ Jseagram
I must disagree, I a a proud former member of the IAM and I am glad to be rid of the asinine work rules and mafia like protection payments(dues).

I had to pay the IAM just to work my trade and watch them use my dues to elect politicians I didn’t support, and to put the screws to the company, if you speak out at meetings against this they pressure you to at least keep quiet. How is this any better than an exploitative company?

Sorry, unions are a cure that is worse than the disease.

Dec 29, 2011 3:00pm EST  --  Report as abuse
TheNewWorld wrote:

If they could unionize South East Asia, Mexico, Canada and the other countries where are manufacturing jobs have gone to I would welcome it. Unfortunately they can’t do that, and their demands ends up causing more moanufacturing to go overseas to escape their unfeasable high cost demands. I am also for right to work laws that allows us to escape the heavy handed mob that is many Unions.

Dec 29, 2011 3:19pm EST  --  Report as abuse
zoomie63 wrote:

GM is reopening the Spring Hill, TN plant and got the UAW to agree for them to hire mostly new workers instead of calling back workers previously laid off. UAW agreed for GM to start new workers at $15.78 an hour, about half the prevailing rate paid to the company’s production (previous) employees. At $15.78 an hour you are not even considered middle class.

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20111229/BUSINESS03/312290032/2047/NLETTER01/Middle-class-hit-hard-by-factories–wages?source=nletter-news

Meanwhile, the CEO of GM, Dan Akerson scored a $9 million compensation package, including $1.7 million in cash annually and $5.3 million in company stock over the next three years.

http://money.cnn.com/2010/09/10/news/companies/GM_pay/index.htm

The CEO of GM, Dan Akerson, has asked the Obama administration to lift pay limits on top executives at the auto company.

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/dec2010/aker-d16.shtml

Dec 29, 2011 3:45pm EST  --  Report as abuse
SeniorMoment wrote:

The UAW destroyed itself with its insistence on non-monetary issues like work rules and compartmentalization of jobs that are incompatible with flexible manufacturing. The final straw for the unionized car manufacturers was when the UAW successfully bargained to retain on compensation so many no longer needed auto workers.

The only chance for a successful auto union would be for one global union that bargained for globally comparable standards of living for auto workers. Global equal pay is not realistic, but in a large number of nations living standards can be purchased for far less money than in the USA. Factories foreign companies built in the USA, can easily just be carted off to Asia or underdeveloped Latin America if the companies see unions are too much of a burden in costs or operations, unless those nations also have union representation along with American workers.

Dec 29, 2011 4:03pm EST  --  Report as abuse
mattcne wrote:

I hope the UAW fails in this quest. I grew up in Michigan outside of Detroit and got to see first hand the destruction the UAW caused on the US auto market. Allowing employees with poor attendance, poor education, poor work ethic to continue working at an above market wage does not help anyone. The UAW just filters cash into it’s own pockets at the expense of the american workers. Let’s hope the foreign plant workers can escape the clutch of the UAW or we will be in really big trouble. Down with the UAW!

Dec 29, 2011 6:46pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Sinbad1 wrote:

@Watcher23

It wasn’t the unions that sent the US auto industry broke it was poor management.

Management of most successful US companies were engineers and they have been replaced by bankers. The result is cars manufactured in the US are now at about the same level as 1970′s European cars, working on American engines, lifters,
is like a time warp back to my youth It isn’t just the auto industry HP has been gutted by the financiers who don’t even know how a printer works.

This sort of thing seems to happen when empires fall, the Romans went crazy towards the end and Britain ended up with a lot of closed factories when their empire collapsed.

There is a movie called idiocracy which is probably a reasonable guess at what the future of the US will look like.

C’est la vie.

Dec 29, 2011 7:01pm EST  --  Report as abuse
gordo53 wrote:

Whether or not you are pro union, the economics are inescapable. Building cars is, with the help of technology, getting easier all the time. There are plenty of third world nations capable of running car plants. Raise costs here and the “transplants” will close their shops and move elsewhere as they should. The only place unions are doing well is in government. But even there they have peaked. As economic pressure rises in this country look for govt unions to go the same way as their private sector “brothers”. The party is definitely over.

Dec 29, 2011 8:22pm EST  --  Report as abuse
naryso wrote:

The problem with unions in the US is that they do not really have workers needs as their priority, they have union needs as their priority – mainly more $$$ and political influence for unions rather then needs of the workers.

Dec 29, 2011 8:39pm EST  --  Report as abuse
actnow wrote:

As an engineer who worked in the automotive industry since the 80′s, I can say without a doubt that much of Detroit’s decline was due to wildly unreasonable demands (but not completely). UAW leadership is largely to blame for putting their own workers on the unemployment line, as well as thousands of others, engineers like myself included. Unions yes, but hostile, overpaid union bosses are not the answer.

Dec 29, 2011 9:08pm EST  --  Report as abuse
kbrum1066 wrote:

There was a time when the unions were a good thing. Unfortunately, not being content with providing a fair wage for fair work, they demanded more and more, even when it was well beyond the means of the company to supply what they demanded. Then the unions complained when the companies went under and most of those things were lost.
As far as joining a union, it should be up to the individual. But they should only enjoy the benefits of representation if they are members. I work in a place where the union has never represented me in my 20 years here. It is sad to say, but the union here spends almost all of it’s time keeping the worst of the workforce (abusers of the various rules such as lunch hours, FLMA, etc. or those who are slackers and idlers who refuse to work). it is the ones that are always late or refuse to do the work or constantly belligerent that get the representation… not the good honest worker. To make it worse, most of the time the unions have no real power to stop an action from recurring again and again.
If the unions were more concerned about the fairness for the workers instead of the greed that seems to drive them, then they would be a good thing. But they only care for themselves… they want to extort money from individuals (the amount of money they cllect is usually WAY beyond what is needed) and then pick and choose those individuals that they want to represent (I cannot even count the number of people who have dropped out due to the union failing to represent them when they were due payers), they want more and more even if it drives the company into bankruptcy, they want to tell the company how to run it’s business (if they really are so interested, become stockholders or part owners of the company or join the management side), and the only political party they support is the Democrat Party – even when most of the members are not. They try telling their members what to support politically as well.
Perhaps if they considered the welfare of the company equally with the welfare of the worker….

Dec 29, 2011 10:42pm EST  --  Report as abuse
barberrr wrote:

“By failing to organize factories run by foreign automakers, the union has been a spectator to the only growth in the U.S. auto industry in the last 30 years…”
——————————

That statement about sums up my opinion of the value of autoworker unions in the U.S.A. They have clearly showed us how NOT to do things.

Dec 29, 2011 11:12pm EST  --  Report as abuse
seemlessweb wrote:

Unions arose when there was simply no other choice. No one was in love with the idea just for the sake of ideology. I think union organizing will become much more successful when workers in general understand that the aim of all employers is to pay the lowest wage possible. But here’s the thing – if the wage that employers are willing to pay is not a subsistence wage why in the world would you care whether those employers survive? When you fully understand that the only reason employers relented from paying starvation wages in the 1930s and beyond was because of the activism of the CIO, in particular, you have a chance of awakening from your stupor. Alas, I don’t think you are quite there yet. But you will be.

Dec 30, 2011 11:15am EST  --  Report as abuse
greenberet447 wrote:

Unions have improved the standard of living and can still be viable if certain changes are made:

Eliminate political contributions from unions and corporations.
Restrict union protection for drug use, violence in the workplace, failure to exert adequate work effort, excessive absenteeism, time fraud, destruction of company property, etc.

We do need U.S manufacturing because it is a powerful job creator and has a huge impact on our economy (GDP). There is an economic term called ‘the velocity of money’ which refers to the number of times a dollar is re-spent within an economy over a 12 month period (our current average is 7 – it was 8.5 15 years ago). Highly engineered complex products generate a higher velocity of 12. When a worker earns $35,000/yr. he/she spends most of that money to buy things from other people(companies) who then take that money and re-spend it and so on. Every U.S. car costs about $35,000 and supports 12 employees across the economy (a foreign car purchase supports 2 workers). When Americans buy a foreign car we lose net 10 jobs for a year. Each foreign car costs taxpayers $250,000 because those 10 unemployed workers now collect $15,000/yr plus they are no longer paying $10,000/yr in Fed.,State, City income tax, FICA, Medicare, plus the employer share plus employer SUT and FUT, plus less sales tax due to loss of income. Americans buy 2 million foreign cars every year plus thousands of foreign bulldozers and tractors. Do the math. This is why we have huge tax deficits at the Federal, State, and local level.

Dec 30, 2011 11:25am EST  --  Report as abuse
Watcher23 wrote:

I agree that the UAW has acted like a parasite on American car manufacturers. But I would not let management off the hook either. Those gutless turdlettes gave in to them too. Not to mention their own exorbitant salaries. Does ANYONE know how to run a successful company anymore???

Dec 30, 2011 5:02pm EST  --  Report as abuse
jwws9999 wrote:

I don’t like the UAW, but I also don’t like the fact that the youth of today is working for lower wages than 30 years ago. Neither solution is correct.

Jan 01, 2012 10:01am EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.