The Towering Arrogance Of The United Auto Workers Union

by John Hawkins | December 15, 2008 11:22 am

Because their allies in Michigan state government and Congress have given them every legal advantage, members of the UAW have been able to get paid far more than their skills were worth on the free market for decades.

In one sense, it’s hard to fault them for that. After all, most people try to get every dime in salary and benefits they can out of their employers. However, the unions took it to the extreme. They took advantage of the incredible leverage they had to raise their salary and benefits up so high that they literally sank the companies that were paying them. In other words, the unions deliberately chose short-term gain over long-term viability.

Well now, their “short term” strategy has reached what should be the end of the road. GM supposedly could go bankrupt by the end of the month. Chrysler and Ford aren’t in much better shape.

Rather than do what most firms do in a similar situation, head to bankruptcy court, the Big 3 have asked Congress to give them the money they need to keep going a little longer.

When they got to Congress, a lot of Republicans balked at the idea of throwing good money after bad on the car companies. Setting aside the fact that Congress shouldn’t be in the business of handing out loans to companies in the first place, these corporations came to Congress because they couldn’t compete in the market place. How much sense would it make to hand a 15 billion dollar “bridge loan to nowhere” to companies that aren’t competitive today and that aren’t going to be competitive after they burn through that taxpayer money?

Yet and still, even though the GOP was very skeptical of the idea of giving the car companies a loan, they seemed willing to do it — if the unions would reduce the total compensation of their members down to the same levels as foreign car companies working in the United States, in 2009. That would give the Big 3 car companies something they haven’t had in ages: the opportunity to be viable long-term.

The unions took a look at that offer and essentially said, “We’d rather lose our jobs and see the companies go out of business than take a pay cut in 2009.” They did make an empty promise to be reasonable in 2011, but that doesn’t make much sense given that they want money now, not in three years.

So, after the incredible selfishness of the unions killed the deal, what did they do next? They, and their allies, spent days insulting the senators who didn’t cave to their unreasonable demands. Those senators were un-American, trying to break the unions, Confederates, etc., etc., etc.

Now, if Congress had come to the Big 3 automakers and the UAW to ASK THEM for a loan, that sort of arrogance would still be rude, but it would at least be understandable. However, it was the unions that had come begging for the money to keep going just a little bit longer and then turned down the deal because it required them to set their salaries and benefits at a sane level.

It was stunning. It was like watching a homeless derelict scream at a church worker who offered him food and shelter for the week in return for picking up trash around the grounds.

Somebody needs to inform the UAW members that, “The world doesn’t owe them a living.” Most of us were told that when we were kids, but apparently that phrase hasn’t penetrated into Michigan yet. It needs to, because these jackasses in the UAW need a reality check — so here it is.

It’s not the job of the U.S. taxpayer to subsidize your salary and benefits. Lots of people have been laid off and Congress didn’t do anything to save their jobs — and they didn’t spend decades making more money and collecting more in benefits than they were worth. Out of all the people in the entire country who could lose their jobs or pensions, the UAW members are right up there with “Big Sugar” lobbyists and trial lawyers as the people who deserve the least amount of sympathy. So, you should shut your mouths, stop treating this like a negotiation with the car companies, and start showing a little gratitude that anyone would be willing to help you in your hour of need even though you honestly don’t deserve it.

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