24 September 2007

Just Call Me Andrew Carnegie

“DETROIT (AP) - Thousands of United Auto Workers walked off the job at GM plants around the country Monday in the first nationwide strike during auto contract negotiations since 1976.

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said the union launched the strike after "one-sided negotiations" failed to reach an agreement.

"It was going to be General Motors' way at the expense of the workers," Gettelfinger said. "The company walked right up to the deadline like they really didn't care."

Workers walked off the job and began picketing Monday outside GM plants after the 11 a.m. UAW strike deadline passed. The UAW has 73,000 members who work for GM at 82 U.S. facilities, including assembly and parts plants and warehouses.

Included in the negotiations was a groundbreaking provision establishing a UAW-managed trust that will administer GM's retiree health care obligations. GM pushed hard for the trust - known as a Voluntary Employees Beneficiary Association, or VEBA - so it could move $51 billion in unfunded retiree health costs off its books. GM has nearly 339,000 retirees and surviving spouses.

"This strike is not about the VEBA in any way shape or form," Gettelfinger said at an afternoon news conference in Detroit.

"The No. 1 issue here is job security," Gettelfinger later said, adding that the union also was fighting to preserve workers' benefits.

Gettelfinger said the union and GM's management would return to the table later Monday.

GM spokesman Dan Flores said the automaker was disappointed in the UAW's decision to call a national strike.

"The bargaining involves complex, difficult issues that affect the job security of our U.S. work force and the long-term viability of the company," he said. "We remain fully committed to working with the UAW to develop solutions together to address the competitive challenges facing GM."

It remained to be seen what effect the strike would have on the automaker and consumers. The company has sufficient stocks of just about every product to withstand a short strike, according to Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis for J.D. Power and Associates.

Worker Anita Ahrens burst into tears as hundreds of United Auto Workers streamed out of a GM plant in Janesville, Wis.

"Oh my God, here they come," said Ahrens, 39. "This is unreal."

Ahrens has seven years at the plant, where she works nights installing speakers in sport utility vehicles. She waited outside the building Monday for her husband, Ron Ahrens, who has worked there for 21 years.

The couple has three children, including a college freshman, and Ahrens worried about how they would pay their bills.

"This is horrible, but we're die-hard union, so we have to," Ahrens said. "We got a mortgage, two car payments and tons of freaking bills."

Gettelfinger said he believed the UAW's leadership owed "our membership an answer as to why they're out there."

"This is as serious as anything that any of us do," he said. "There's not one person on this stage ... that wanted to see these negotiations end in a strike. Who wins in a strike? But again, you can be pushed off a cliff, and that's what we feel like happened here."

Despite the strike, GM stock rose a penny to $34.95 in midday trading.” Taken from WXYZ.com

I have popped off about the unions before. Anyone who has read me long enough knows my stance. For any new readers unaware of my stance on most labor unions and the UAW specifically, I am a wonderful mix of Andrew Carnegie and Allan Pinkerton. For my overseas readers that means I am violently opposed to them and wish them great bodily harm resulting in death and or dismemberment.

So today I turned on the TV to have what I thought was going to be a severe weather alert or amber alert crawling across the screen. Instead it was informing that the over paid whiney bitches of the UAW have initiated a nationwide strike. The funny/great/amusing thing is that they did this at the most inopportune time to make their point. The Michigan unemployment rate as of August was at 7.4% which is a .4% increase for the year, with a combined loss of 56,000 jobs over the past year (source). This is what happens when people with a high school education at best are put in charge of a labor union. What they fail to realize is that there is a glut of people willing to do their jobs for much less than they the union lazy asses are being paid. If GM is smart, they will simply cut their losses, break from the union, and hire all scab labor. Tell everyone who wants to come back to fuck off. They made their bed, time to lay in it.

GM has been steadily losing market share over the years due to the fact they can’t price their cars into the market the way the foreign auto makers can. Why? Because some swingin dick off the street can walk onto the assembly line with nothing more than an elementary education for $18/hr plus full benefits to push a button or turn a couple screws. That’s the STARTING wage. While most of the Asian auto makers have plants in America they do this to avoid an AMAZINGLY large tariff placed on foreign manufacturers that do not have a working plant in the US. So by building an entire line of cars in one plant in Tennessee or any other “right to work” state, allows them to import 10 other lines of cars without paying a tariff and thus price their shit so competitively low that the US auto makers can’t keep up. The overhead in payroll and pensions and health care alone make it near impossible for us to price in the range of Kia and Toyota or Honda.

The children at the UAW don’t understand this, all they want is “more more more”. They say this whole thing is about “job security”, but as far as I can see, and hope, is that they just shot themselves in the foot. While I make great money delivering pizzas if GM offered me $13/hr plus minimum benefits to jump on their line, guess who’d be turning a screw or pushing a button? This guy. It’d be a pay cut, but I’d have benefits and weekends off.

All I have to say is, Ron Gettelfinger I thank you for helping deal this death knell to the one organization that has been slowly killing this region over the last 6 years due to their collective greed and gross incompetence. You sir, are a true American. Plus, when all these assholes finally lose their jobs the housing market alone will explode even more than it is. While this will drive housing prices lower in some regions but hey, this will allow first time home buyers a chance to own at a lower price in a better area. Man, I wish everybody had my crystal ball, the world would be a great place then. Anyhow, fuck the UAW, if GM wants to hire me in an Allan Pinkerton-esque role, I would be more than happy to appease. Viva Detroit!


zen wizard said...

This is really what we need when Japan is kicking our butts on hybrids.

All other factors equal, I will buy a Michigan car before anything else, since the citizens of Michigan were kind enough to give me a college degree.

But the problem is that "all factors are rarely equal."

There comes a time when these UAW guys need to suck it up and buckle down and compete.

The post-WWII "entitlement era" is long over.

Scooter said...

I love my State. I am going to be buried here. However... I don't know if I am going to stay here. I want to stay, I really do. I just don't know if I can make my way here in the next decade.

After all, education is mobbed up just like auto manufacturing is.

Still, not all unions are created equal. A custodial staff can unionize with the fair assumption that the office building that they work in will not outsource their jobs to India. There is the problem of illegal labor in the form of undocumented immigrants, however.

Still, teaching and custodial labor... those are SKILLED jobs. Just try to tell a custodian he has an unskilled job.

GM China is doing SPECTACULARLY. Think about that for a second.

Drunken Chud said...

zen: i don't even want to buy american. unless the UAW can somehow realize they are past their prime, i'd rather give my money to a company willing to put money back into the system via sales and service than a "US" company with employees and leadership hellbent on destroying my city.

scooter, not all unions are the same; true. most unions are formed of purely selfish reasons. whatever. the fact remains that mining unions and otherd of their ilk are required, many of the oversized, over entitled unions simply need to go away.

zen wizard said...

There is a great article in Slate about how LITTLE media attention and economic impact this strike is having.

The good news: The Chinese really like Buicks. (When you have no ambition, desire, or chance of getting laid anyway; Buick becomes a very attractive brand!)

But apparently GM as a US company becomes less and less relevant every year. They LOSE money on every car they sell in the US.

I guess we are becoming a nation of computer dorks who just type stuff in Google all day.

Side note: I hope strippers never get unions.

That would make for some really lethargic lap dances--by a fat chick in a wifebeater wearing a Tigers cap backwards; who smells like acetaldehyde, hasn't shaved her legs or 'pits in two weeks, and is named, "Vince."

Scooter said...

Zen, I am naming my nightmares after you...

Drunken Chud said...

zen, that is a very very disturbing thought... though, i may have overpaid for a lap dance from vince before. but... i can't be sure, it was a little drunk out.

scoot, that's probably best. when you can put a name to that which haunts you, it makes it seem more tangible and thus defeatable.

Steph said...

chuddy, I've argued before with you over Unions. I'm not gonna go there again mofo!!!

Ner, Ner!!

James K said...

I solely visited your blog tonight because I knew you would have a GM / UAW post up by now.

Once again you speak pure truth.

Preach on brother, Preach on.

Drunken Chud said...

steph, we have. however i still maintain that in OZ, the unions may actually still serve a purpose. in america, in general, they don't. especially the UAW. they are single handedly destroying a city, and a state, out of sheer greed.

james, i had the post up within minutes of hearing about said strike. did you really think it would take me a couple of days?

suicide_blond said...

i realllly wish detroit would design something i want to buy....
truly... id even pay a little extra.. but the well is pretty dry...

Kristin said...

Um, I dreamt about you and your state last night. Argument with a Canadian? Thinking about tomorrow's roadtrip to BG, which is so close yet so far away? Who knows...

zen wizard said...

What would be bad is if a unionized lap dancer was giving you a real "crotch grinder" in the VIP room, and you reached the...ahem..."Moment of Inevitability," when a whistle went off and she said, "Sorry, I have to take a union-mandated break. OSHA regulations..."

Then every time after that when you heard a time-clock click you would pop a load in your pants due to the subliminal suggestion power. This could make for some very embarrassing moments in the lunch room at your job.

"How are you today, Bob? Ker-chink!

Bob: "Heh....Hehh...Hehh...HOLY SHIT!" etc...


The only good news is that "Lap Dancer" is one job they can't send overseas...or can they?

Are we just one cigar smoking room conspiracy agreement with the airlines from having to go to India for a lap dance?

Drunken Chud said...

suicide, i'm personally partial to the ford GT. that is one HOT car.

K, just kick canadians. they like it. wow, you're gonna be in bg? do you know if they still show rocky horror at the cla-zel?

zen... sometimes you amaze me. now boarding pan am flight 215 to bangladesh for the hit bar So Sari.

Kristin said...

I heard that they killed Rocky Horror. Actually, I heard that it isn't even showing movies anymore. Will confirm in about 24 hours.

Drunken Chud said...

that's just a travesty, i think they did the same thing to the maumee theater as well. le sigh.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

I think that if me, you, and zen went on a blogging strike, blogger would arrange for blowies under our desks if we started typing again.

I believe that.

Eve said...

Unions certainly seem like a good idea. I mean, who's supposed to stand up for the little, powerless guy versus the big powerful corporation?

Ok, now I wake up. How can American workers be competitive against Chinese workers who have zero rights, organization, benefits (retirement plan?! Ha!), or vacation days.

I'm an idealist, so I hope that there's a way to empower workers, but I'm also a realist, and realize this ain't the way.

Drunken Chud said...

ken... that just might work. that just might work.

eve, exactly. it can't be all puppies and rainbows for workers all the time. when the company takes a hit, the workers HAVE to feel it too. that's life.

Eve said...

Aw, puppies.

Eve said...

Actually, I don't agree with that. The workers have an agreed upon wage, they have nothing to do with the money. If times are great, do they see any of that? No. If they're shitty, same deal. It works out that if they take money from other places (like quality of the product or whatever) then that's something. Now the CEO and the other higher ups actually do have a vested interest in the financial state of the company.

Drunken Chud said...

if you work for a company that is losing money, they start making cuts. if, in order for you to keep your job you have to take a pay cut, you should. the fact of the matter is simple: the company is doing you a favor by allowing you this option instead of outright replacing you with a less experienced employee for a starting wage. ie cutting you out at $40/hr to hire in a newbie ar $18/hr. which is still a ridiculous starting wage. and when times are great, they do feel it, in the form of profit sharing and increases in pay during a collective bargaining agreement. trust me, they used to strike to get pay raises in the 90's all the time.

Scooter said...

I still say the Chevy Volt is a beautiful, wonderful idea that will bite GM and the greater auto industry in the ass...

First, it's the Volt, a sedan, then, it's in "SUV" frames, then Minivans, then light trucks, then mid-size trucks, then heavy duty trucks.

Things will be great for ten years, but I still think that enough, not all, perhaps not even most, but enough people will choose to retrofit their vehicles rather than replace them.

Once a viable after-market retrofit culture develops, every iteration after that will see more of the consumers that would buy new... retrofit instead.

I give major auto manufacturers thirty years. I give unions 15.

Stepho said...

My Kia was built in Georgia, while the guy I drive to work behind every other morning with a "keep my American flag sticker off your foreign car" drives a minivan with a Suzuki engine and thinks he's "all American," even though the combination of foreign parts + US labor means we are essentially driving THE EXACT SAME SHITTY CAR. (Except that mine gets almost 40 miles to the gallon and costs nickels to insure because no one in their right mind would steal a Kia Rio.)

Scooter said...

Chrysler Workers have walked out. The fucking morons...

Stickler said...

Chud...I wish i could agree with you. But without these labor unions they would be paying people minimum wage with no health insurance. The cars would become drastically unsafe and alot more of the US would be poverty.

Also I'm trying to join A union right now so I kind of see the benefits to it. Because without being in one I'm getting screwed.