When a car salesman quotes a price he knows is too low, just so he get the customer hooked on the car before he comes back to the customer and says that his boss wants more for it, it’s called a “lowball.”
And that looks like the stunt the UAW is reportedly pulling with Chrysler.
According to a report by Bloomberg, a business news network, the head of the UAW’s Chrysler negotiating committee says that he doesn’t back the contract to which he agreed and intends to urge local unions to reject it. The negotiator, Bill Parker, says that the contract isn’t good enough because it doesn’t provide adequate job security. Parker claims that “[v]irtually no Chrysler plant received commitments beyond the scope of their current product. As a result, the plant- by-plant threats we’ve experienced in the past will continue.’’ He also claims the contract is inadequate because it does not guarantee that current temporary workers will be hired for permanent full-time jobs that become open and does not include a base wage increase.
He plans to distribute a leaflet to union leaders opposing ratification of the proposed contract.
Parker also believes that the union should not have agreed to concessions on health care similar to those made at GM and Ford two years ago. At that time, Parker opposed those concessions.
It is not clear whether this stunt is a power grab by a faction of the union that doesn’t like it’s president, Ron Gettelfinger, or is a belated confession by Parker of complete incompetence. Either way, the stunt appears to be a violation of the legal obligation imposed on the union under the National Labor Relations Act to bargain in good faith, particularly since Parker headed the bargaining committee. Should the contract be rejected and Chrysler file a complaint against the union with the National Labor Relations Board, it would introduce a new element into the negotiations.
One thing that is crystal clear, however: Parker is living out of time. The UAW got where it is today because of mentalities like his. It goes a long way toward explaining why the UAW’s membership has declined so precipitously and why its continued existence has been considered at stake in the current contract negotiations, along with survival of the automobile manufacturers.