Friday, April 13, 2007

UAW: The Union of Ailing Workplaces

The United Auto Workers, once known for its powerful presence in the American auto industry, is fast becoming a union known for its impotence and oversight of workers' having their jobs eliminated.

Last Thursday, the media reported that the UAW lost another 18,000 members in the past year, as top UAW officers gave themselves an increase in pay. The pay increase, however small it may seem, comes at a time when UAW membership has dwindled to a mere third of its once formidable size.

The next day, Friday the 13th, came another announcement of misfortune for UAW members, as auto supplier American Axle announced the closing of its Buffalo, New York plant, putting yet another 700 UAW workers out on the streets.

For his part, the UAW's top guy, Ron Gettlefinger, stated that the union is "in negotiations in an attempt to have new work brought into the plant," adding that they "recognize this is a difficult challenge..." Impossible, may be more appropriate for the UAW.

In Arkansas, the UAW has had members on strike at sink-maker Kohler since December 9th. The strike has apparently become violent when a picketer lunged at a motorcycle driven by replacement worker John David Hicks. Hicks, trying to avoid the lunging striker swerved his motorcycle into the lane of another vehicle and was injured.

Striking worker and UAW picket line captain Carroll Burleson claims that picket line incidents are not his union's fault. And, although he's heard heard nails and screws had been thrown into the company driveway and parking lot, he says he hadn’t witnessed any of that, and didn’t know who did it.

“If I did, I wouldn’t tell you,” Burleson said. Further, Burleson claims that vandalism to workers’ cars was the drivers’ fault.

In Indiana, troubled supplier Tower Automotive is shuttering is Kendallville plant, laying off another 102 UAW workers.

Recently, the UAW held a town hall meeting for Toyota's union-free workers in Lexington, KY.

UAW bosses said Thursday the union would be strengthened if it were able to add Toyota Motor Corp. employees. Who didn't know that???

"Our union is based on the principle of bringing workers together to create a level playing field with employers, and the more workers who join, the stronger we are," UAW bosses said in their online chat with members.

It seems rather than raising the living standard of workers, the UAW is driven to lower all to their level of 'playing field.' It's a shame that workers still fall for this line of union rhetoric, as the evidence grows that unions like the UAW are killing the very jobs they claim to be trying to help.

As Whole Foods CEO John Mackey once said about the UFCW: "The union is like having herpes. It doesn't kill you, but it's unpleasant and inconvenient and it stops a lot of people from becoming your lover" (Business and Society Review, 6/22/92).

Unfortunately, for so many UAW-represented workers, the United Auto Workers seems to be more akin to having a whole STD cocktail. It may not kill you, per se, just the company that employs you...

No comments: