With negotiations going on between the United Auto Workers and the Big Two 1/2 (Ford, Government Motors and Chrysler), there has been little discussion over the competitive advantage GM and Chrysler now have over Ford in their union negotiations. The UAW, GM, Chrysler and, most certainly, Ford knows it, but perhaps you don’t.
In 2009, when the Obama administration invested taxpayer money to “restructure” both General Motors and Chrysler, the UAW agreed not to strike the government-invested car companies until 2015. Something that the UAW would not do for Ford Motor Company, which did not seek taxpayer money.
As a precondition to Chrysler’s bankruptcy, the UAW agreed to a no-strike clause. If talks reach an impasse, either side can seek binding arbitration, an option that GM has as well.
Both companies obtained no-strike clauses from workers — a concession not granted by UAW members to Ford Motor Co.
Of course, for the UAW, the implication for the UAW was that, without the no-strike guarantee through September 2015, either one or both of the car companies would not be able to feed at the public trough.
- Note: Apparently, back then, the Obama NLRB was not as concerned about the retaliatory effects of denying UAW members their right to strike as they are with the Machinists at Boeing today.
When controversy errupted with UAW members whether or not they could strike Ford, then-UAW president Ron Gettlefinger stated:
“Members at Ford retain the right to strike on every issue — and I say every issue — except improvements in wages in benefits,” Gettelfinger told Paul W. Smith this morning on WJR AM-760. “And there’s no arbitrator, where they wage and benefit issue would go, that could cut the wages or benefits.”
Now, a mere two years later, the United Auto Workers is doing what it cannot do to GM and Chrysler–threatening to strike the non-bailed out automaker:
The United Auto Workers union has a strong mandate to strike Ford Motor Co. if an acceptable new labor agreement is not reached when the current contract expires Sept. 14.
Locals representing about 41,000 hourly Ford workers were asked to complete their votes by Friday. Locals are reporting 97 percent or higher of the membership has authorized UAW leadership to strike if necessary.
While not all results from the 42 Ford locals have been released, key plants in Michigan, Ohio, Missouri and Kentucky overwhelmingly authorized strike action, according to results from locals over the past week.
Ford is the only Detroit automaker the UAW can strike. General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC have no-strike clauses from bankruptcy restructuring.
Now, with less than a week left before the automakers’ contracts expire, and the UAW set to strike Ford if it cannot get an agreement, the company is gently reminding people that they stood on their own two feet, while GM and Chrysler dipped their beaks into the well of the public treasury.
Whether or not Ford will emerge with a contract without a strike remains to be seen. Or, if a strike puts Ford into the ever-increaslingly big hands of Big Government, whether taxpayers are forced to bail Ford out as well–thanks to the UAW–also is unknown. However, this is yet another example of why so many people today view the UAW simple as ‘Union Ain’t Wanted.’
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776
HT to Sunshine State Sarah.