I’ve been fighting hard for an INVESTMENT in the auto industry. It isn’t a popular stance in some places.
There is an Urban Myth that the Big 3 aren’t changing their product lines, that they don’t get the crisis, that the UAW workers are overpaid and that the Big 3 have no vision for the future. I know that is all a load of crap based on nothing other than ‘conventional wisdom’. Which, BTW, you can almost always bet is another load of crap. The Congress certainly isn’t listening to the testimony except for Senator Chris Dodd and a few others.
I am passionate on the topic as I watched the steel industry die from a very close view. I come from a USWA family Local 2869, now gone with Kaiser Steel. I watched with my family, including my uncle who was local president, as the entire industry collapsed. I refuse to stand by and see it again.
What follows are the 8 articles I’ve published on the topic. If you take the time to read the articles and watch the videos I believe it makes a case for a Federal Government Investment in the US Auto Industry. [I would appreciate it if this got some circulation across the blogsphere and your friends. This is a terribly important topic.]
The UAW gets it. After rewriting their contract twice to help the automakers here’s UAW’s President’s remarks in November before Congress on the first hearings addressing one part of the Urban Myths that pervade this effort:
The truth is that in 2005 the UAW agreed to reopen the contracts mid-term, and accepted cuts in workers’ wages and in health care benefits for retirees. Then, in the general 2007 collective bargaining negotiations, the UAW agreed to what industry analysts have called a “transformational” contract that fundamentally altered labor costs for the Detroit-based auto companies. This contract slashed wages for new hires by 50%. Furthermore, new hires will not be covered by the traditional retiree health care and defined benefit pension plans. In addition, this contract stipulated that beginning January 1, 2010 the liability for health care benefits for existing retirees would be transferred from the companies to an independent fund (a Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association, or VEBA).<> As a result of all these painful concessions, the gap in labor costs that had previously existed between the Detroit-based auto companies and the foreign transplant operations will be largely or completely eliminated by the end of the contracts. Indeed, one industry analyst has indicated that labor costs for the Detroit-based auto companies will actually be lower than those for Toyota’s U.S. operations.
On Dec 2nd the UAW President said,
United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger says the Detroit automakers’ business plans being submitted to Congress as they seek $25 billion in federal loans don’t yet include union-approved cutbacks.
But Gettelfinger said Tuesday on WJR-AM’s “Paul W. Smith Show” that “we recognize that there may be additional sacrifices required.”
Local UAW leaders from across the country are expected to hold an emergency meeting in Detroit on Wednesday to discuss concessions the union could make to help auto companies get government loans.
I’ve had a series of real articles up at both The Democratic Daily addressing the Big 3 issue. Here are the titles and links.
7. “UAW President Ron Gettlefingers Opening Congressional Statement” The formatting on this one leaves something to be desired but you still get the entire statement.
There’s days worth of writing that could be done on this subject. That’s why there are full time reporters doing nothing but covering this story.