Friday, December 12, 2008

Labor Reveals it's True Colors, and is Finished...
I've just watched the incredible (and I use that word in the cynical fashion) diatribe delievered by the head of the UAW Union this morning, and was shocked and appalled. The Big Three automakers (and can we stop talking about them this way, please? If they were that Big would they be in this mess right now?) are about to go tits-up. Normally, this might be considered A Very Bad Thing, but with the state of the current economy, it's probably more like a necessary evil, and the union refuses to co-operate (naturally) in an effort which will save their own jobs and allow a reorganization to take place.

Now, about the speech itself, I will say this: it was standard communist boilerplate. All about how the workers will suffer, and how the republican party (the party of Big Business, you know) is once again shovelling cash into the pockets of their capitalist allies at the expense of 'the Little Guy', and about how the UAW has made valiant efforts to do their level-best to help GM/Ford/Chrysler through this difficult time, yada, yada, yada. The speech woudl have made great theatre in 1930, but now it's a bag of bullshit.

The UAW, under the current Plan To Save Detroit, would have to give something back. And naturally, it refuses to do so, claiming ont he one hand that it is impossible to give back what they don't have (sniff, sniff, get me a Kleenex), and on the other (although they never say so openly) that it would be wrong to ask labor to give back benefits that they negotiated in 'good faith' when GM, etc. were ripe for rape (i.e. flush with cash). Human nature being what it is, the Union is reluctant to give anything back and tries to make the case that it is the Auto Companies which hold all the cards in these negotiations. This is the standard position of all unions (nd let's face it, it's all our default position): I don't have anything to give, so you'll have to.

Of course, if the Unions refuse to do that which they should, GM, etc. go into bankruptcy and any contracts they had with the Union become null and void, so perhaps the Union is biting it's nose off to spite it's face. Or perhaps the Union hopes that Washington (particularly the democraic party) will simply nationalize (i.e. Bail out) GM, etc. as a reward for union support over the years. The whole idea that GM, etc. would get a bridge loan to tide them over until Mach of next year begins to smell even more; the government should tide them over until Obama gets into office, when the full communist agenda of nationalization can forge ahead, full steam.

There was a time in this nation's history when labor unions actually did some good things, and improved the lives and working conditions of millions. They no longer do so. They now exist solely to collect worker dues to be used for political purposes and extort business to pay for it. The fact is, that the UAW is no longer an true partner in the labor/management relationship, and is instead interested solely in maintaining a status quo wth regards to wages and benefits, which have financially crippled their employers, while non-union manufacturers make profits and provide jobs in Right-to-work states.

Depending on who's numbers yo believe, the average autoworker, taking into consideration wages and benefits, makes roughly $70 an hour. I did some research (quickly, I'll admit) and found out that the average wage/benefit-per-hour of the autoworker was greater than that of computer programmers, ER nurses, firefighters and police officers, teachers and communications specialists. Consider also that the average autmobile is mostly produced by machine, and that hourly wage becomes even less defensible. No wonder American manufacturers flee for overseas labor markets (a practice I duly detest).

The unions have almost accomplished what business and government could not in a century: they have been busted. And the irony is that they have done it to themselves. They have priced themselves right out of a job, and destroyed their employers in the process.

Now, I'm not going to defend GM, etc., since they were a) stupid enough to enter into these contracts, and b) appallingly mismanaged. But at what point does the UAW beginb to realize that they are about to shoot themselves in the foot, and take a couple of million other 'working men and women' with them (those who work in the industries which supply the auto industry)?

My guess, based on The Speech, is that they never will. Primarily because they have not realized their interst in being flexible, and secondarily because the Union Mentality is simply a reflexive "Gimme!". Then again, they can't be blamed for this mentality; they've been encouraged by their past successes, and cheered on by a political clique which sees everything in terms of class warfare and romantic notions of revolution, and not reasoned discourse or cold, hard facts.

After hearing The Speech, if I were a manager or shareholder of GM, etc., I would be jumping for joy this morning. The Unions have now forced GM, etc. to do The RIght Thing (go bankrupt gracefully) and put the Unions in the position of having to beg for even half of what they had before when the dust settles. They may be depending on Team Obama to save them from having to lose anything, but they are about to be sadly disappointed, because if we have learned anything about The Lightworker to this point, it is that the best way to get kicked in the teeth is to have his back. He's your best buddy in the world until it comes time to toss you to the lions. The current crisis, bleak prospects for the future, and growing public furor over bailouts of Big Business will ensure that Zookeeper Obama will be ready to feed his best buddies to the exhibits faster than you can say "Which way to the Unemployment Line?"