UAW's cave in speech?
UAW's Gettelfinger pushes common ground
United Auto Workers International President Ron Gettelfinger today said
business and labor have a shared stake in corporate competitiveness and
can work to find common ground in areas such as health care,
international trade and climate change.
In a speech that drew a standing ovation at the Detroit Regional
Chamber's Mackinac Policy Conference, Gettelfinger said that advocating
for workers doesn't necessarily mean advocating against employers. And
he said that while workers need a voice, the union also knows that
"employers have to be highly effective and productive to succeed."
Gettelfinger called for and supported trade policies that encompass
human rights and environmental protections, saying such aspects "aren't
business issues, or labor issues. These are moral issues."
He said trade policies also must be fair; for example, a proposed
U.S.-Korea trade agreement will encourage the import of Korean cars into
the U.S. but does not encourage the export of U.S. cars into Korea,
furthering a trade deficit and potentially "robbing our nation and state
of good-paying jobs."
An advocate for a universal, single-payer health care system,
Gettelfinger said the United States' "continued failure to enact serious
health care reform puts U.S. companies" at a significant and competitive
On climate change, Gettelfinger said that business and labor can play a
role in addressing the issue. But, he said, "demanding drastic and
unrealistic" fuel-efficiency standards won't solve the problem. He said
cars and trucks are responsible for 16 percent of carbon emissions in
the country but should not have to shoulder responsibility for the
entire environmental solution.
He said the UAW supports an economywide "cap-and-trade" program to
reduce carbon emissions; a fuel-economy approach in which larger
vehicles would have different requirements than smaller vehicles; and
efforts to stimulate new investment in the auto industry, such as a
manufacturing tax credit for companies that build hybrid vehicles, other
products and key components in the U.S.
Gettelfinger said a "realistic approach" to climate change, new health
care system and more balanced approach to international trade are the
"kind of issues where business and labor can find common ground."