I was struck by a paraphrase that I heard recently from a reporter on one of the Sunday morning shows, describing a statement made by the head of the UAW regarding their position on “givebacks” to GM to assist in restructuring the company financially.
As I heard it, and I don’t remember the quote exactly, it was something like “we have given enough.”
I was honestly dumbstruck. And it made me revisit my thoughts about unions in recent American history.
There is no question that there have been times and circumstances where unions have been necessary, even critical to supporting fairness to workers. And though I am no expert on unions, I am sure there are industries where unions are still important and valuable.
But in modern times, more often than not – at least in the high profile scenarios of which I am aware, unions are a cancer on the American economy and, bizarrely, on themselves.
What else could explain the fact that unions are a major catalyst for the entire destruction of the American auto industry? Certainly there is plenty of blame to go around including corporate management, but unions were right there at the table – partners in the destruction of GM, Ford, and Chrysler.
But while their part in the destruction of the industry – through work rules and pensions and all kinds of structures that guaranteed Detroit would lose money – is troubling, what is shocking is that on the eve of the first of “the big three” going bankrupt, they think they have “given enough.” In other words, the way things are now is great. We see no reason to fix anything.
And in a month they will all be out of work.
They are willing to defend their ill-gotten gains while the union-free Japanese automakers, with their happy, fully employed American autoworkers eat America’s lunch.
Certainly, if Detroit goes down, as it looks like the Republican Party is insisting, The UAW will be a full partner in the industry’s demise.