Are the UAW Chrysler locals run by idiots?
Yesterday, the leaders of Chrysler UAW locals voted to recommend ratification of the tentative contract reached between the union and the company. But, unlike the recommendation for ratification of the earlier contract with General Motors, the local leaders were not unanimous in their vote. Led by Bill Parker – the union leader who appears to be trying to foment trouble for Ron Gettelfinger, UAW president, a man who negotiated the Chrysler deal and is now encouraging its rejection – there were clearly opposing views. One female local official was reported to have stormed out of the meeting swearing into a celphone and other leaders were seen arguing in the hallway outside the meeting.
Meanwhile, there were rumblings that a deal with Ford may not go as smoothly as leaders of both company and union want it to go. Both Gettelfinger and top Ford officials appeared at ceremonies marking production of the first 2008 Focus, a warmed over version of the old one, and all expressed certainty that a deal would soon be reached between the companies. But some of the Ford local leaders made it clear in separate statements that their locals would not vote for a pact with Ford that did not include specific commitments by the company to put production at designated plants, including the Wayne Stamping and Assembly Plant at which the Focus is built.
The UAW contract with GM did commit the company to assembly at specific plants during the four year contract period, giving many industry observers a window into GM’s future product plans. Chrysler, however, has only recently been broken off from Daimler and has new ownership and management. It may well lack the product planning continuity that exists at General Motors, which has had stable management. Ford is a mix: its current management has only been in place about a year and the product planning appears to be evolving. For example, Ford has said that future Focus models will be built from a single platform used throughout the world. That, presumably, is the new European Focus platform, which has been withheld from the U.S. market in the past.
One union leader said that the ratification recommendation, which was made on a voice vote, had been close. Another, from the Belvedere, Illinois assembly plant, said that he believed the contract would not pass at his local because it lacked specific guarantees to keep designated plants open.
Apparently, the UAW is populated by dinosaurs and idiots. They seem to believe that they can have a future even if their employer has none.
The Belvedere Assembly Plant is one of Chrysler’s newest facilities.
It’s over 30 years old.
Chrysler does not have a single plant that is even close to new. Toyota, Honda, and Mercedes have not a single plant as old as the Belvedere plant.
Over the decades, the union has fought against production efficiency, insisting on job rules that hamstrung manufacturers in their efforts to compete with foreign brands. The union has also insisted on being paid for doing absolutely nothing, under the euphemism of the “jobs bank.” In the past, the union has consistently treated the companies that employ its members as enemies, and used the strike threat as nothing less than blackmail to force upon the companies contracts that they could not afford in the long-term because, in the short-term, they could even less afford a strike.
Now the fruits of decades of arrogance and stupidity at the UAW are coming back to haunt it and its members. Many still seem unable, or unwilling, to understand that they have no job security if they drive their company either into bankruptcy or out of the country. Even if these morons succeed in getting a contract to their liking this time around, they will have achieved nothing more than giving the company four years of lead time in which to move everything that’s mobile to another country – production, design, even management.
It is not clear that the plant commitments made by General Motors were, in any real degree, a concession to the UAW. To the contrary, they appear to have been nothing more than the articulation of decisions already made. Committing, for example, to a new dual-clutch transmission for the 2012 model year is not a decision made to negotiate a contract. No company could make product planning decisions during contract negotiations with the UAW. That’s a decision already made. Acknowledging it in the contract may be window dressing for union members, but it means nothing to the company.
Chrysler simply can’t make the same commitments because it’s not in the same position. Starved by Daimler for several years, the company has only recently been given a development checkbook with a balance in the account. It is still putting in place the new management that will be making the product decisions that are to be implemented during the contract term. Indeed, given the lead time for development of new models, it is entirely possible that most of the impact of new management in the next four years, the term of the new contract, will be discontinuing models, not building new ones.
But none of that matters to union officials and members who have been drinking the kool-aid poured for them by the union for half a century: “job security.” They can’t accept the simple reality that the only job security they’re going to get, no matter what a contract says, is working for a company that can compete in a world-wide market.
Meantime, the news from yesterday that should have mattered to the UAW’s members was ignored.
Vehicle sales in China rose over 25% last year, to over 4 million vehicles.