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Ron Gettelfinger's basically saying "it's not our fault" when discussing the state of Detroit's automakers. Rather than admit that the UAW's plum labor agreements and contentious negotiations have contributed to the current gloomy situation, the United Auto Workers head man says that the economic downturn is to blame for everything, and that Congress should approve loans to the auto industry, saying "We cannot afford to...see this industry collapse." You've got to love that black and white logic. The current state of the economy, and in turn the automakers' pain, are both closely related, and separate issues at the same time.
Boosting sales numbers for the last decade by financing anyone who filled out some nominal paperwork was probably not such a hot idea, but it kept the lines running, putting off layoffs even though it meant overproducing. An automaker propping up its sales to avoid strife with its labor union? Why, that sounds like it's at least partially the UAW's doing; and now those chickens have come home to roost as easy credit has dried up. Bad management and uncompetitive products from domestic automakers is pretty much the story of the last 35 years, and that's something the auto industry in the United States is certainly responsible for. Only now, when they're on the brink of massive failure, are American cars truly competitive with the import competition that's been dogging them for 25-plus years. It's certainly true that current economic forces unrelated to the automotive business have a large role to play in this ongoing saga, but if a bailout plan is passed, will it really help?

Consumer confidence is at record lows, and at a time when people aren't buying household widgets, is it really conceivable that they could be enticed into a big-ticket automotive purchase from a carmaker that may or may not soon file for bankruptcy? All the dire predictions about how the auto industry cannot be allowed to fail amount to so much hot air; even if we pump federal dollars into the industry, if nobody's buying, it could still fail. If that happens, there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but it's not an impossibility. If one of the Detroit automakers goes down, then what? The UAW will have to find some other industry to choke, that's for sure.

[Source: Breitbart.com]


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  • 114 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Yeah, just like their "brothers" the Teamsters didn't bankrupt (Ch. 7) Performance Transport. Performance was the second largest auto transport company in the US and in just a couple weeks the Teamsters strike ran the company into bankruptcy. All those workers that were striking to not give up a 10%-15% pay cut for 8 weeks are now out of a job.

      In Michigan alone the southeast area of Michigan which is homebase to the UAW, Teamsters, and other labor unions has been losing jobs and has been in a recession for decades. Meanwhile on the west side of the state (Grand Rapids) they have seen growth as well as northern Michigan. The difference? Far less union manipulation than in the Detroit area.

      What else is unionized and sucks...our education system. The U.S. spends more per student than any other nation at close to $10,000 per student because you cannot reward a good teacher while neglecting a poor teacher. It is nearly impossible to dismiss a poor teacher today because of teachers unions. I had a teacher in high school who drank on the job and got caught twice but didn't get fired or sanctioned until he sexually harrassed a student. Still, he wasn't fired but rather placed on paid leave for two years until he reached retirement and recieved full benefits!

      The problem in the U.S. today is accountability and entitlement. It's always someone elses fault but their own and unions and their members often lead the way. A guy on the news just a week ago talked about how it's Bush's fault that he couldn't make his payments on his $65,000 Escalade anymore. His job? He screwed the right side lugnuts on at Flint truck and bus. Yeah, they guy drove an Escalade on that pay!

      There is no place for unions in the modern, global economy.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Hm, looks a lot what had happened in the UK...
        • 6 Years Ago
        This is a very good point that has not yet been sufficiently suggested. The GM-Chrysler merger, and the powerful unions strangling the domestics into producing noncompetitive product, reeks of British Leyland.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It would be more accurate to say that the unions aren't *solely* to blame for the current situation. They're definitely a big part of the problem. But just blaming them lets management off the hook. Managers have to be held accountable for their greed and poor performance too.
      • 6 Years Ago
      UAW doesn't make sense to exist anymore. In my eyes, they have directly crippled the domestic automakers.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I agree of course. Originally, however, the Big 3 created and allowed the UAW to gain the upper hand in negotiataions. Short-sighted Big 3 management rolled over.. anything to keep their annual bonus checks coming. All the while, the UAW burden mounted to the point where the weight is now overwhelming. "Pattern bargaining", "brothers" and "sisters" became hates words and still are, when applied to the GD UAW.

        Back when Chrysler got their loan guarantee from the government, the loan conditions ("strings") saved Chrysler by making them profitable. GM, Ford and Chrysler now need similar government "strings" to solve their financial problems, otherwise the bailouts will be an annual event.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Remember back in the late nineties early 2000 when the dot.com/telecom industry went bust and you had programers making 100K+ a year right out of college...they were way overpaid and when the industry had a little recession, guess what, they lost their jobs because the market (companies) couldn't support the salaries during an industry/economic downturn.

      This is what is happening to GM and its unions. Greed often shoots you in the foot where you end up with less trying to get too much.

      When these workers lose their jobs...and many of them will eventually. Where are they going to find a career to support their 80k A year lifestyle with little or no education.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Your dad who is an electrician presumably does not have a contract in the way that the auto workers do. With enough seniority, $80k/year is likely. And you could have got in without even finishing high school and now be out on the street with the same lack of education. It sucks for the workers, but they've had a few years now to prepare for this. I don't feel sorry for people making that kind of money who can't put a little away and start looking at a way out with this much warning.
          • 6 Years Ago
          I agree, the same thing happens with sales people...I use to work in home sales where people made 150-300K a year...where else are they going to make that kind of dough. Everyone in the business knows you have to save because your never on top forever.

          I believe when you don't get a degree, or go to a trade school, or get some type of certified skilled training and you make a lot of money this is what happens...I've personally seen this happen.

          1. You usually are not motivated to better your self education wise "i'm make as much as an engineer why do I need to go to school etc..."

          2. If hard times hit you can't find a job that pays you as much as you were making because you are overpaid and underskilled.
        • 6 Years Ago
        That's interesting. I don't know one UAW member who makes $80k a year. I believe my dad (who is a UAW member but an electrician) makes around $55k a year. And I think his supervisor makes just over $60k

        You know, if they lose their jobs, they could just go work in a Toyota factory and make more money.

        http://www.autoblog.com/2007/01/31/toyota-workers-in-us-made-more-than-uaw-members-for-first-time-l/
      • 6 Years Ago
      It's disheartening to see autoblog taking a swipe at the unions. It takes a short read into the history of the labor movement to realize America wouldn't like an economy sans unions. In fact, America made that decision more than 100 years ago.

      I don't believe history and fact substantiate the UAW being the reason for the dire straights the big three find themselves in.

      Years of steadfastly refusing to change with an ever evolving market, unexciting and poor design, decades of dubious quality have resulted in GM stocks 65 year low and Chrysler, LLC.s desperate cost cutting.

      The UAW represents labor, not management. These mistakes were made above the factory floor.

      A secure retirement, living wage, and health benefits are not too much to ask for in exchange for years and sweat. It seems autoblog has a short memory.


        • 6 Years Ago
        Right. Yep. It couldn't be anything like paying people over 50 grand a year for basic labor or anything. Newflash, when union workers get paid more with more benefits than people with college degrees, something is wrong.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Do you think the pay is fair for near-unskilled labor? Do you think it's right they get paid twice as much (55-60 grand) than teachers (30-38 grand) do?

        Autoblog takes the swipe at the UAW because NO ONE ELSE WILL DO IT. Are the UAW the only ones to blame? No, of course not. Autoblog blames multiple parties for this downturn of the auto industry. So either you're blind UAW-loyalist or you don't read Autoblog enough.

        Just an addition while I'm on a soap box: This is a place to express an opinion that could otherwise get people in trouble, fired, in fights, awkward situations, etc., because disagreeing with most of what UAW does can be seen as un-american to some or at least an attack on middle America. The news agencies walk a very fine line and thus only blame the lack of credit, consumer confidence, and somewhat recent gas prices. They don't blame bad management (remember, the auto industry spends alot on advertising...), mediocre cars, or the UAW. Because THAT wouldn't be PC would it?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Precisely. Those who are pointing out the union's struggles early on, when they first formed, are missing the point. That's a different scenario than what's happened in the last 3 or four decades, when the companies were already well-established, and the executives gave huge contracts and benefits, while ignoring the looming threat from the imports. I'd wager that the vast majority of people in this country don't have a clue as to how their lives would be today if it weren't for the unions' demanding 40 hour work weeks, overtime, benefits, etc. Since the decline of the unions in the last few decades, our wages have stagnated, employers are offering fewer benefits (or cutting them out entirely), and the average American works more hours per week, for less pay, than just three decades ago. I find it interesting that it's okay to pay executives hundreds of times more than their average workers (the highest disparity rate of any industrialized nation in the world), and then have them go to Washington with their hands out, because they failed. This really isn't a hard concept to grasp; at the end of the day, management is in charge, and they have to make the tough decisions on where their companies are headed.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Here we go with the history of unions argument. Unions serve a function all over the world and in the USA, but that does not absolve the UAW of their sins. They have grown to big and powerful. It's one thing to be in a strong bargaining position with your employer, it's quite another to extort money from your employer until he buckles under, leaving you both pan handling on the sidewalk.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I agree with a lot of what you are saying. The misrepresentation of unions and the failure to prove the pay scale of UAW represented employees is appalling. However, a lot of what is being said about unions isn't completely off the mark. There's plenty of blame to go around and the UAW is certainly due their fair share of it. Well, the UAW made serious concessions in their last contract. Part of the problem is that those concessions needed to be made some time ago. But to pretend that employees now making half wage with no pension are overpaid is ridiculous. I don't want to see the current retirees get screwed out of what was promised to them but I think there are going to have to be further concessions by some who haven't retired yet and are due a pension. No matter what happens Michigan is in for even more painful times ahead even though we've already had enough of that.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I wonder how many UAW workers would bail form the union if given the choice. Educated or not, surely some of them must realize they are on a sinking ship and disagree with the direction their leadership has taken them on all these years. I'd think this would be even more apparent to the younger workers who realize that all their work is going to support the retirees and probably won't have a pension when it comes time for themselves to retire. I'd like to think that some are free-thinkers who might realize that the jobs would probably be there without the UAW and they'd have a bit more spending money by not paying weekly union dues.
      • 6 Years Ago
      To say ---- "The UAW had nothing to do with failure of BIG THREE" --- is same mindset as ---- "People don't kill people, GUNS DO, Lets band ALL GUNS".

      The UAW SUCKS!!!!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Don't worry Detroit you'll get your money as soon as we sign the free trade agreement with Columbia that labor was so opposed to.

      As long as the government can keep the lights on for the next 2 years, when real savings kicks in and new products come out (volt,cruz,fiesta,(umm Chrysler?), they might just survive without bankruptcy. Of course for that amount of money the US government could probably own all 3 companies many times over.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Bad planning, bad product, bad suppliers, bad management and the UAW are all to blame for the current conditions in the auto industry. Unions are about the most useless entities in this country, existing, in my opinion, only to keep themselves fat, dumb, and happy in their posh executive offices, at the expense of the workers who they'll tell at the drop of a hat to strike, as long as the dues keep coming.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Yeah...the union bosses are sitting pretty and fat with guaranteed paychecks for running their mouths. Still, the automakers problems are also due to a$$hole US dealers...why is it that US dealers can sell foreign cars and treat customers right but US dealers sell US cars as tin and treat customers like idiots? I haven't been in a US dealership since 1973....well, except to look at Corvettes, and every time I get a ration from some hounds-tooth suited salesman stuck on the floor...test drive? KMA! Yet I can buy any BMW I want and the BMW guys will happily leave me the transmitter for an M6 and say 'Bring it back when you're done."
      It's all about how you treat the customer...GM could learn a lot from Lexus. Cadillac is getting there, but even there, they're not Lexus.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Seems to me that you wouldnt buy an american anything anyway. Losers like you believe the medias hype about everything. You come across as a person who actually is convinced that the crap that comes out of your mouth is true. Do some research, Be American buy American
        FEW
        • 6 Years Ago
        Did you know the largest Viagra customer in the world is GM? They buy over 1.4 million dollars in viagra a year. Lol, and the union boss said its not their fault. Less hard ons more work.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Uh yeah, I have to agree with knife on this one. I went to a Chevy dealer three years ago to look for a car with a friend. The sales person was nice and actually knew something about cars. They didn't really have what my friend was looking for (as far as used cars go). Out of curiosity, I asked if I could test drive a Vette. The guy asked for my license (to make a copy...every dealer does this), got a dealer plate and handed me the keys. I was surprised.

        Now fast forward to this past summer and I had to pull teeth just to test drive a Camry (to see what the hype was all about). The local Toyota dealer also sells Hyundai, Kia and Honda vehicles. So I decided to test drive a couple cars from each company. The sales guy I got wasn't rude but he wasn't really nice either. I ended up getting the guy to let me test drive a couple Tundras, an Accord, a Corolla and a Civic.

        And the service dept. there is a complete joke.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I am what they like to call a "Ford Fan Boy," but I will admit that the best dealership experience I have ever had was at a Lexus dealer in Houston, Texas. Second to that would have to be Cadillac. For average cars, it depends on the dealership. I have been to a Toyota dealership where the salesman was fresh off the boat from Somalia and another where I was treated like royalty. Same with Ford, same with Chevy. I, personally however, have never had a pleasant experience at a Nissan or a Honda dealership.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The biggest problem for the Big 3 is "Uninspired Product" that is thoroughly underwhelming.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I felt the same way... except in reverse. The BMW dealer didn't want to let me drive their convertible M3. Conversely, the local Chevrolet dealer simply handed me the tranmitter to a yellow ZO6 - no paperwork, no taking a DNA sample, nothing. I bought the ZO6 and won't be looking for a BMW any time soon.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Forming an opinion about an entire company based on experiences at a dealership is a horrible idea. Example:

        I went in to a nissan dealer, asked to test drive an altima coupe. Guy said I needed to secure financing before I could take a test drive! I said I wouldn't be financing and if I did I'd have a cosigner since the car wouldn't be in my name. He said maybe I should come back to test drive with the cosigner. I said no thanks, I'll buy somewhere else.

        I headed acrossed the street to the mazda dealer which happens to be owned by the same guy who owns the Nissan dealer. Sales guy lets me test drive an rx8 no questions asked. Not to mention I told him straight up I probably wouldn't be buying a car for 3-4 months!

        • 6 Years Ago
        I run three foriegn car franchises. I also have worked in domestic franchises for over 10 ears. Your comments are absurd. You, sir, are the complete a**hole!

        Come visit a Toyota delaership in the Baltimore/Washington Metro area. The service is pathetic. I know, I work for a Toyota dealer. Our Bimmer store is okay, but just okay. But Toyota stores are a joke. No one speaks English. The service is pure crap. That is every Toyota/Honda store in the Mid-Atlantic. I can assure your, Toyota does not give two s#*ts about your happiness.

        I am not advocating that the domestics do much better, but to state that dealerships who sell Japanese products treat you better is flat out wrong.

        As far as BMW customers go? The only differnece between a porcupine and a BMW owner is the the porcupine has it's pricks on the outside!

        Oh, and on Lexus? Sheehy Lexus treats their customers better than anyone in the mid-Atlantic region. They also average about 5-6k per copy of front end gross. The industry average has dipped below $500 per car. Domestics could be much less.

        You get what you pay for.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The dealers in my area generally suck. Regardless of what brand of car they are selling. They make of the car has nothing to do with the dealer. Case in point, to take a test drive at my local Ford dealership, they require you to get a credit check. At my BMW dealership, a photocopy of you license, and the keys are all yours.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I've never set foot in an American car dealership except for my Uncle's Ford dealership so i cant really speak on them... however i must say they should really follow the steps of Toyota, Honda, and Nissan if they want to make a sale. Whenever I go to those dealerships they give me a very homely feel, like i've known them my whole life. The workforce is very diverse, everyone's friendly, laid back, and they make jokes to make people feel comfortable.

        I usually buy european cars and their service is not as good. Volvo is nice once they get to know you and BMW/Mercedes dealers won't even look at you until you invite yourself to their desk and open your checkbook. Most European cars sell themselves so I guess the dealers don't have to be nice...even though im sure it wouldn't hurt if they learned how to say "hello".

        I feel sorry for GM because their cars actually are a lot better; they just need time to rebuild their reputation. What the dealers need to do (if they haven't already) is let people get in their cars and try them out; then give them incentives.. and be friendly intead of pushy or arrogant
        • 6 Years Ago
        Gotta go with Daniel on this one. Give me product I'd buy and I'd get a Ford, Chevy or Dodge with no problem. I don't like paying a premium for Japanese stuff.
      • 6 Years Ago
      actually its the ones who didn't take the buyout.
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