UAW wants link between fuel economy and retirement benefits

We wrote last week about Ron Gettlefinger's political plan for the UAW , mentioning that the union would like to see tax incentives for those manufacturers who embrace technology to improve fuel economy. Well, it sounds like the union already wants to take this a step further, with what it refers to as a "Marshall Plan" that would bring government-subsidized retiree health care relief to manufacturers in exchange for said economy improvements.

I'll only speak for myself (and not my fellow Autoblog colleagues) in stating that I think this is quite the bad idea. While the potential outcome - more efficient vehicles and retirees that get their promised health care benefits - are obviously good, this program would take taxpayer money (something already in short supply) and use it to reward companies and workers that made/demanded promises that couldn't be kept, while not properly positioning themselves to react to market forces.

If indeed this was a one-time-only, wipe-the-slate-clean sort of deal, then I'd say fine, and let's get on with it - the problems this plan purports to solve are indeed real and looming.  Realistically, though, this strikes me as the sort of thing that's going to turn into another Medicare drug boondoggle, especially once every other company with crushing retiree liabilities cries "foul" and wants to jump in on the act.

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