Wednesday, September 26, 2007

UAW-GM Battle: Showdown About the Past

In the grand scheme of things, the latest installment of the UAW-GM battle has the makings of this fall's Army-Navy football game—a match between two ancient powers whose rivalry once dominated the headlines but who now play a largely symbolic role. GM and UAW—the largest American manufacturing enterprise and the nation's largest manufacturing union—brawled in bloody 1930s battles and ultimately reached an accommodation that led to a golden age. But GM and the UAW matter less and less to the U.S. economy, and the U.S. economy matters less and less to GM.

Both GM and the UAW will argue that the outcome of these contract talks is vital to the future of the U.S. auto industry. But the subject of the talks—the creation of a trust to guarantee health benefits for retirees and workers, the union's desire for job security commitments, and GM's demands for significant cost reductions so it can compete in the United States—prove that the showdown is really about the past.


At 9/26/2007 9:33 PM, Blogger holeydonut said...

I agree with the article's description that the Nation does not care about the squabbles of GM, the UAW, or any impact this has on the "middle class" in the USA. I think Miss Teen South Carolina remained more newsworthy this week than talk of the UAW.

I grew up admiring the auto industry; I thought it was a great thing to see all the pieces of a vehicle come together and so many people each bought cars to suit their tastes and needs. There was something intrinsically great about the ideology of an automobile purchase. It is ubiquitous at the same time it is a significant leap by customers.

The notion that someone can turn a small silver (or now plastic) key and can soon be many miles away traveling at 75mph is really cool. There's so much that has to go into making the thousands of mechanical parts come together to make that car work; and that customer's experience is a seamless part of their day. The Japanese accomplished this beautifully. They take care of customers and their own business from the moment they lay pen to paper to sketch the beltline of their future auto.

All this is lost in American Autos. It's almost as if they knew nothing about how to build cars successfully. I decided to go and look first-hand at whether or not my existing notions of Detroit-Auto were true. It turns out they were. Management really is as short-sighted and greedy as people describe them to be.

They'll sell their long-term strategy in a heartbeat if it means making some bonus money today.

The UAW really is as stubborn as people believe. There really does exist members of the rank-and-file that are as bad as you read about in the press.

At the end of the day, Americans no longer care about the plight of Detroit. All you hear about every day is how Detroit is messed up and the Japanese can produce better automobiles. "if only..." is the battle cry of Detroit.

Is it any wonder Americans don't care? It's been over 2 decades of "if only" and all they have to show for it is..... nothing.

At 9/26/2007 11:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is hard to say how the work conditions in the United States would have turned out if it were not for the dedication of the UAW to improve the workplace for the "average" worker. That being said, the UAW lost sight of the average worker long ago. The UAW members earned respect long ago for standing up for better work conditions. The UAW members now demand respect and better work conditions when they already enjoy the best benifits in the country. I don't feel that the respect that the members demand has been earned; it has been given to them.

I don't think the theater show that was put on this week meant anything to either side.

At 9/27/2007 10:19 AM, Blogger thomasblair said...

Quoted from the article:

"But GM and the UAW matter less and less to the U.S. economy, and the U.S. economy matters less and less to GM."

Isn't it interesting that in creating the association with a play on words that the author chose not to invoke similitude and include the UAW among those to whom the U.S. economy matters less and less, as it did for GM?

Why do you suppose that is?


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