Editorial:What's good for GM is good for the UAW

Editorial:What's good for GM is good for the UAW http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070925/OPINION01/709250317/1148
A national strike of General Motors Corp. by the United Auto Workers
doesn't help anyone, but it certainly hurts -- the workers, the company, the domestic auto industry and Michigan.
The strike is surprising considering the positive tone of the negotiations prior to the walkout. We can't say for certain what triggered the action. But we know that for the good of both the company and the workers, it must end in the spirit of cooperation and with all sides certain of a more secure future.
Union President Ron Gettelfinger said the union didn't want to walk out, but that the company wasn't willing to give it what it wanted in the way of job guarantees and other protections.
"The company walked right up to the deadline like they really didn't care," he said at a news conference on Monday.
Gettelfinger should take that attitude to heart. GM and the other domestic automakers must come out of these talks with a transformational contract.
Anything less and they might as well shut down. A strike simply hastens the inevitable.
Despite having access to GM's financial statements and projections and having made some preliminary concessions in the last two years, the UAW still believes the work force is entitled to perks that no longer are sustainable in today's global economy.
Union members on the picket line Monday railed against the big salaries and bonuses of a few top executives. They seemed not to be aware that they are the best paid factory workers in the world.
Gettelfinger says job protection is one of the major issues in the dispute. The union wants guarantees that production of vehicles won't be moved to Mexico or Asia. It wants assurances that specific vehicle models will be built at specific factories in the United States and that the automaker won't outsource other jobs to nonunion operations.
Gettelfinger may land some concessions from the company by shutting it down for a brief period, but over the long run, those guarantees will likely result in more lost jobs, not fewer. GM, like its crosstown rivals Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC, needs flexibility in these contracts to recover from the $16 billion they collectively lost in North America last year.
GM has to be able to make business decisions about production and plant locations based on what makes the most economic sense for the company. Doing anything less puts the automaker's financial health at risk and, by extension, the jobs of UAW members.
Ultimately, what's good for General Motors is good for the UAW. A healthy company will create more jobs and be under less pressure to balance its books by squeezing workers.
But to get to that point, the domestic automakers must close the $30-an-hour gap that exists with their Asian rivals. The disparity in costs exists in large part because the domestic automakers haven't been willing to challenge the work rules and job guarantees of past contracts. And they've failed to bring pension and health care costs in line with what is offered in most other private sector jobs.
That has to change with this contract.
Although Gettelfinger bristles at the notion, a strike is a weapon of the past that won't provide union workers with a more secure future.
He should get himself back to the bargaining table with a more realistic view of what it will take for GM to survive, and get his members back to work before the jobs they left Monday disappear for good.
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I keep hearing of a global economy yet all I see is wages and jobs being exported. Everything else here comes from China etc.When will Americans wake up? Without a fairly compensated work force who will buy all the things all other working Americans sell? Thats with or without a college education......................

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070925/OPINION01/709250317/1148
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Have the execs figured out who will buy their products when everyone in the country works at a fast food joint, wally world, or a dollar store?
But to look at the bright side, the US will be unable to go to war anymore, since there won't be any factories left to manufacture war materials, lety alone the knowledge to design them.
When will we wake up? Not until it's too late. The quest for instant profits will destroy the country.
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