Free Markets, Free People

Irony and the law of unintended consequences visit the UAW

You could also entitle it "meet the new boss, same as the old boss". What I’m talking about is a recent meeting between UAW bosses and GM workers. To say it didn’t go well would be a vast understatement)(via Sweetness and Light):

Workers at a General Motors stamping plant in Indianapolis, Indiana chased United Auto Workers executives out of a union meeting Sunday, after the UAW demanded workers accept a contract that would cut their wages in half.

As soon as three UAW International representatives took the podium, they were met with boos and shouts of opposition from many of the 631 workers currently employed at the plant. The officials, attempting to speak at the only informational meeting on the proposed contract changes, were forced out within minutes of taking the floor.

The incident once again exposes the immense class divide between workers and union officials, who are working actively with the auto companies to drive down wages and eliminate benefits.

Actively working with the auto companies? They are part owners now of the auto companies – they’re "management" for heaven sake.

Interesting how it suddenly looks when you’re on the "other side", huh?  And in the face of vociferous opposition, the UAW officials abandoned the podium.

All of this was written up at the World Socialist website.  There’s also a video which gives real credence to the story. In the beginning someone from the local is speaking. He or she (I really couldn’t tell which) then introduces the UAW international drones at about 2:48. As you watch it, it will remind you of some of the townhall meetings of last summer:

The article goes on to say:

Workers at Local 23 voted 384-22 in May to reject reopening a previous contract, which had guaranteed that wages would remain intact in the event of a sale. GM first announced its intention to sell the plant in 2007, threatening to close it if it did not find a buyer.

Despite overwhelming opposition by the rank-and-file, UAW executives secretly continued negotiations with JD Norman, which they outlined in a document sent to workers last week.

Pretty bad when your union which is now management sells you out, isn’t it?  To paraphrase one worker, “they’ll still have their jobs while they sell ours out”.  Wow – wasn’t that the argument against the hated “management?”  Heh …

Irony – it’s really something to be appreciated sometimes, isn’t it?  The UAW always wanted control of the auto companies didn’t it?  Now it has it – sweet, huh?  And private sector unions wonder why their membership is dropping like a rock.



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28 Responses to Irony and the law of unintended consequences visit the UAW

  • Hey, this is what you get with classical fascist economics…!!!
    And the real kicker comes when the BIG GOVERNMENT head of the corporatist collective FORCES a new contract on the poor, poor Princes Of Labor…!!!
    Got to love it.

    • This is the poster child for “card check”
      They force a union on you, become your boss, cut your pay.  Priceless.

  • “Well we’re waiting here in Allentown for the Pennsylvania we never found
    For the promises our teachers gave if we worked hard, if we behaved
    So the graduations hang on the wall but they never really helped us at all
    No they never taught us what was real
    Iron and coke, chromium steel
    And we’re waiting here in Allentown
    But they’ve taken all the coal from the ground
    And the union people crawled away”

    Billy Joel, “Allentown” – and how old is that song?   – 1982 –  No one learns.

  • Heh, now the union bosses sort of understand.  The workers, still not so much.  In an economy like this, there’s little room for foolishness.  You want your wages cut by half, or cut to nothing?  Maybe there’s room for a compromise, but I think I’d rather have a job.

    • OH, NOOO….  That’s the OLD formula.
      Now, with Uncle Sugar, you can be nippled up to the Treasury.  Which is EXACTLY what the union pensions are pushing for right now.
      No more of those hard, hard capitalist choices, doncha see…?

    • … but the worker are paying this union clowns with their dues to have them come in and tell them to take a pay cut.
      This must form some sort of circular firing squad.

    • I will point (yet again!) to the situation in Greece.  When the Greek government chose to cut spending instead of letting the economy go over a cliff, the population protested, sometimes violently.  They didn’t want to choose from a smaller entitlement or no entitlement at all, they wanted MORE MORE MORE!  The fact that there was nothing more to give to them did not matter, because the alternatives were unacceptable.  They got a taste of this “reality” thing and they did not like it one bit.
      So now the UAW goes to a plant that was going to be shut down, and they are trying to explain to the workers that they chose to reduce compensation by 50% instead of 100%.  The workers find both of those options unacceptable, because there has to be a third option, right?  One where they get bonuses and higher salaries and more vacation time and better health insurance and more MORE MORE MORE!  Unfortunately for them, you cannot force reality to leave the room by shouting at it.

      • The point is that wasn’t the deal the workers and UAW discussed and agreed upon. They’re being booed out of there because they went behind their backs and made a different deal. I believe the worker’s point is if you can’t trust your union reps – with whom you had a deal – to represent you properly, what use are they?

  • Love it!  Sympathy factor = zero.  Chuckles factor = 100

  • My dad worked for AT&T ans was a shop steward at his site for the CWA (Communication Workers of America) but he hated the union till the day he died.  Seems AT&T was a “closed shop” which meant if you joined or didn’t join, you paid dues to the union.   He got everybody to join and served as shop steward only because if you didn’t join some “privileges” weren’t afforded to you by the union, even while paying dues.
    He always said that each and every strike was for the convenience of AT&T.  When they needed to pull in costs, there was a strike.  On one occasion, he was told of a strike by the local which he dutifully went out on, but was later told it was illegal.  The union did nothing to support his position and he was docked the pay.
    But what he really hated is that the top union officials were elected by the union locals, not the rank-and-file.

    • We’ll be fighting in the streets
      With our children at our feet
      And the morals that they worship will be gone
      And the men who spurred us on
      Sit in judgement of all wrong
      They decide and the shotgun sings the song

  • “…after the UAW demanded workers accept a contract that would cut their wages in half. ”

    Card Check that mofos.

  • Hope the workers like being unemployed, then.

  • Now if we could just insert the term “regulatory capture” into the liberal consciousness over this issue, because that’s exactly what this is, lock, stock, and barrel.
    Arguably these aren’t “unions” anymore, just one more control structure imposed upon the once-again helpless worker. I wonder how many more centuries it will take us to work out that collectivism just doesn’t work. Really. Honestly. Doesn’t work. Regulatory capture is the inevitable outcome, not the exceptional one.

  • worlds tinniest violin.

    They deserve no symphony. They rode that union train into the ground. Not so good for the current workers, but the retired workers made out like bandits.  Real Bandits.

  • This is definitely a “lose-lose” proposition.  Not to mention the obvious “conflict of interest” on the part of the union.

    • Hardly.  The Union is working for the benefit of their stake in the IPO which is needed to help fund their retirement benefits and also for the general future of the company and their jobs.  Tougher times than we just had are probably coming.
      At least the leadership has realized that the well isn’t infinitely deep.

  • So how exactly can they negotiate a contract with themselves? I never quite understood how that could possibly work.  Obviously it can’t, but apparently that conflict of interest was lost upon the UAW.

    • They technically have no control and aren’t really ‘management’.  Their stock is non-voting.  They were given a seat on the board but its essentially powerless and just there to have an ear on the inside.  But they do have a stake in the company’s short term and long term performance.  Not just for themselves but their membership.
      However that loyalty is partly skewed to the retired membership since that represents more voter clout than the active membership.  If there’s a conflict, its more with the retirees against workers.

  • I suspect that management wants to shut down this plant and are hoping that their offer of half wages will be rejected. In this way they can blame workers for the closing.

  • I am sorry for people who are caught between taking a huge pay cut and taking a total pay cut.  I am sorry for the people in that town who are looking at (I presume) a major industry, which provides jobs not only for the workers but for all the people who sell to them, going away for good.  I am sorry for my country because this is one more piece of our once mighty industrial base that’s going away.

    And I am sorry because I don’t think anybody will learn a lesson from this.  Unions will continue to screw their workers and companies to get dues that they pass along to politicians who pass laws to make it harder for companies to operate which then go overseas or out of business.  At the end of the day, everybody looks around and asks, “What happened???”

  • Union workers are like prostitutes, in many senses of the word.

  • The UAW .. err .. GM is now saying that the play will close June or July next year.
    All those union dues for nothing.

  • … meanwhile back at the .. resort  … Inside The UAW’s Opulent Lakeside Resort

  • So this is what happens when the workers control the means of production. Wish Karl Marx could be alive to see his dream come true.

  • Proving once again that the view is different from the top. The only goal for a publicly traded company is to earn a profit for the shareholders; the UAW – which is now a shareholder – is starting to realize how this is supposed to work, furthermore they are making deals behind their members backs in order to prove this. This only proves to me that there is both a “more, more, more” mentality on the half of the members, coupled to an inability to explain how the company is to work successfully to the employees on the half of the union management. That being said, when stocks and sales are plunging it is safe to say that one should not expect a raise (it’s alright to want one, but to expect it at a time like that is bad for the employee and the company). Really, this is a problem for everyone involved.