Monthly Archives: October 2009

Did the UAW Just Kill Ford too?

There is an old joke among Chevy owners:

FORD = Found On the Road Dead.

Well, this week, the once-mighty UAW may have just sealed Ford’s fate.

As most of America knows (or should know), through a tax-payer funded bailout and government-imposed bankruptcy, the Obama Administration gave General Motors and Chrysler shares to the United Auto Workers in exchange for debt owed to the UAW’s Voluntary Employee Benefits Association, or VEBA. In other words, the UAW is a major stakeholder in both GM and Chrysler.
Ford, on the other hand, did not become a recipient of taxpayer money and was not forced into bankruptcy by the Obama Administration. And, for this, it appears that Ford may ultimately pay a price (literally and figuratively).
You see, through its government-structured bankruptcy deals with GM and Chrysler, the UAW agreed to concessions, which included lower costs and a no strike guarantee through 2015.
Since a strike is a union’s only major weapon and since the Obama administration had convinced the UAW give up additional concessions and holster its strike weapon, both the lower costs and the labor peace has placed Ford in a huge competitive disadvantage. Not only is it left to contend with a higher-priced UAW contract, the UAW can strike Ford when its current contract expires in 2011.
Ford, as would any good business, recently sought to rectify GM and Chrysler’s cost and labor peace advantage by asking the UAW to modify its contract to level the playing field for Ford.
Two weeks ago, the UAW leadership agreed to modify its agreement with Ford.

“This agreement is another step in meeting the challenges of a very difficult time in the U.S. auto industry, and we look forward to presenting it to UAW Ford workers,” UAW President Ronald A. Gettelfinger said in a statement.

However, that’s when the trouble started. Almost immediately, the UAW’s ‘solidarity’ broke as rank and file union members began to campaign to reject the agreement, prompting UAW honcho Ron Gettlefinger to grouse that local leaders were campaigning on misinformation.
As the days progressed over these last two weeks and the local vote tallies came in, it became clearer that the UAW rank-and-file members were rejecting the notion of bringing parity to Ford.
As the Wall Street Journal reported this morning:

Ford Motor Co.’s rank-and-file union members rejected a concessions agreement, leaving the auto maker at risk to higher costs compared with competitors Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Co.

Although some locals are still voting through Sunday, the United Auto Workers national leadership has accepted the defeat, said three union sources who asked not to be identified since they don’t officially speak for the UAW.

The leadership is now reviewing other options, these people said. UAW President Ron Gettelfinger told Dow Jones Newswires on Friday he will not continue bargaining or conduct a re-vote. Ford will now have to wait for any formal changes until 2011 when the current contract expires.


“I think the UAW failed its membership in adequately explaining how important it is for Ford to stay competitive with Chrysler and GM and how relatively minor these contract changes were,” said Brian Pannebecker, a Ford Sterling Heights, Mich. axle plant worker who voted for the concessions. The plant rejected the measure by almost 80%.

Now, with the government-backed GM and Chrysler having an economic advantage over Ford, the questions that emerge are: 1) Can Ford survive with its higher cost structure until 2011? 2) Will Ford, like GM and Chrysler, need a tax-payer financed auto bailout? and 3) Did the UAW just doom Ford to failure?

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Filed under Chrysler, Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Ron Gettlefinger, UAW, United Auto Workers

White House Vs. Chamber of Commerce: SEIU’s Andy Stern Appears to be Driving the White House’s Bus

He’s been called, rightly or wrongly, the hand inside Barack Obama’s puppet. One thing is certain, however, Service Employees International Union president Andy Stern has a lot of sway with Barack Obama’s White House.

In fact, even as President Obama was nominating SEIU-radical lawyer Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board, the Wall Street Journal reports that SEIU’s Stern visited the White House some 22 times from January to July, more than anyone else on the White House visitors log.

The list [of visitors also] includes William Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, Michael Moore, Robert Kelly (R. Kelly), Malik Shabazz, and Michael Jordan.

But the White House said those aren’t the guys you’re thinking of. Nor is the log complete.


So, how much pull does Mr. Stern and his purple-clad comrades have in the White House?

Consider this:

Last June (and perhaps before), the SEIU launched its campaign against the US Chamber of Commerce, largely due to its opposition to the job-destroying and delusionally-dubbed Employee Free Choice Act.

As its anti-corporate corporate campaign against the Chamber has progressed over the summer, it has included such Alinsky-like campaign slogans as “Turn off the Lights at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”

Enter the White House…

It is well known that the SEIU has put high-ranking union leader Dennis Rivera has been working hand-in-glove on President Obama’s plan to nationalize health care through the so-called “public option.” However, it is still rather disturbing how closely the Whte House follows the SEIU’s lead.

Earlier this month, in what many view as a ‘war on free speech,’ the White House entered the fray, joining the SEIU in attacking the Chamber of Commerce before giving the appearance of easing up when it drew criticism for creating an ‘enemies list.’

While it is one thing for a candidate running for president to pledge allegiance to a particular group (as then-candidate Obama did to the SEIU), it is quite another for the President of the United States to let someone else drive the bus, as the rest of America is shoved to the back.

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Filed under Andy Stern, Barack Obama, SEIU, Service Employees International Union, US Chamber of Commerce

WHO BLEW IT? An Anti-Business State and Fighting Machinists Lose Bout for Boeing Jobs

The months-long, cross-country suspense over who gets the new 787 Dreamliner production line is finally over.

Leaving an Anti-Business Climate

The Boeing Co. has finally reached the conclusion to locate its second production line for the new 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina, far away from what many view as the anti-business climate in Washington State.

While the decision is not sitting well with the International Association of Machinists, the union should not be too surprised either.

In September, the union was overwhelmingly decertified at Boeing’s facility in South Carolina and, based on press reports, Boeing may have finally tired of its acrimonius relationship with the “Fighting Machinists.”
According to Bloomberg:

The union was willing to extend its current four-year contract by another eight years, ensuring no strikes through at least 2020, to secure the 787 work, Rich Michalski said. Instead, Boeing shut down talks two days before its Oct. 26 board meeting and announced Oct. 28 that it would open a plant in the southeastern U.S. state, the first time it has built a commercial-aircraft assembly line outside the Seattle area.

“They won’t ever get us to commit like that again,” Michalski said in an interview last night. “That’s over.”

Sound like the drum beats of war for Boeing in their next round of negotiations.

Pro-union commentator and UC Berkley professor Harvey Shaiken adds: “The risk for Boeing is, moving to South Carolina does not solve its labor issues with the IAM; if anything it adds a troubling new layer to them.”

Unreasonable Demands?

However, despite the IAM’s pledge not to strike, it appears that the IAM didn’t leave much choice for Boeing.

Boeing says the IAM “demanded new planes be built here [in Washington], offered only an eight-year no-strike guarantee and wanted a gold pass to organize everyone and everything in the company.”

Of course, that was in addition to three percent increases every year for another eight years following the 2012 expiration of the union’s current contract.

A Parade of Noise-Making Machinists

It also appears that dealing with the Machinists’ union and its apparently constant antagonism may be a bigger driving influence behind Boeing’s decision.

Matt Gettmann began working in finance at Boeing Co. last year, and it wasn’t long before he found himself watching, stunned, as union members prepared for what became an eight-week strike.

The work stoppage cost the company billions in deferred revenue and caused some of the delays in production of its new 787 at a time when Boeing was growing increasingly frustrated with labor squabbles.

“There would be a parade of people, thousands and thousands of them, making noises and screaming” — right in the factory, Gettmann said. “That’s the employee-employer relationship? It’s shocking.”


“This looks very much like a company that’s tired of dealing with this union, and they’ve found a way out,” said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with Teal Group. “The union needs to put aside the concept of who’s right and who’s wrong, and look at who’s winning and who’s losing. This is not going well from their perspective.”

Now that would be an understatment!

Boeing, Boeing…Gone?

Time will tell if Boeing shifts more of its production to more labor-friendly locales, but for the IAM in Puget Sound and Washington State offcials, this should serve as a wake-up call:
Chasing business away with anti-business regulations and unrealistic union demands is not being ‘pro-worker’–especially when it causes jobs to be lost.
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Cross-posted on

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Filed under Boeing, International Association of Machinists

The Faux Stimulus: $787 Billion to create 25,000 jobs

The White House overstated the amount of jobs the $787 billion stimulus package passed earlier this year has ‘created’ or saved,’ acoording to an AP report.

The government’s first accounting of jobs tied to the $787 billion stimulus program claimed more than 30,000 positions paid for with recovery money. But that figure is overstated by least 5,000 jobs, according to an Associated Press review of a sample of stimulus contracts.

The AP review found some counts were more than 10 times as high as the actual number of jobs; some jobs credited to the stimulus program were counted two and sometimes more than four times; and other jobs were credited to stimulus spending when none was produced.

For example:

– A company working with the Federal Communications Commission reported that stimulus money paid for 4,231 jobs, when about 1,000 were produced.

– A Georgia community college reported creating 280 jobs with recovery money, but none was created from stimulus spending.

– A Florida child care center said its stimulus money saved 129 jobs but used the money on raises for existing employees.

There’s no evidence the White House sought to inflate job numbers in the report. But administration officials seized on the 30,000 figure as evidence that the stimulus program was on its way toward fulfilling the president’s promise of creating or saving 3.5 million jobs by the end of next year.

[Emphasis added.]

Wow! Given that there are only two months to go before the end of the year, there are only 3,475,000 jobs that need to be saved or created by Jan. 1.

Another way to look at it is that we taxpayers spent $31,480,000 for every job that was allegedly “created or saved.”
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Filed under stimulus, White House

Teamsters’ Strike Pennsylvania Kids

On Wednesday, Teamsters Local 773 surprised parents by calling a last-minute strike against their employer First Student. The strike, called late Tuesday night, caused ten schools to close on Wednesday, cancelling classes for 8,000 kids.

In the video below, watch how Teamster boss Dennis Hower uses “we” when referring to bus drivers’ pay (inferring that he is being paid a bus drivers’ wage).

We are the lowest paid school bus drivers in the county,” Hower told WFMZ TV.

Who is ‘we,’ Dennis?

The fact is, in 2008, Hower made nearly $82,000 as a Teamster official–not a bus driver.

School is set to resume on Thursday–without the bus drivers.

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Filed under labor union strike, Teamsters


A funny rap from

For more on the hallucinogenically-named Employee Free Choice Act, see the bottom of this post.

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PBS Does a Puff Piece on Richard Trumka (video)

He laughs, he cries, he hollers and he stretches the truth…

PBS’ puff piece on AFL-CIO Top Boss Richard Trumka:

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Filed under AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka