In an unprecedented hours-long debate that lasted late into Thursday night, the Senate finally concluded with a complete collapse of negotiations. The talks fell apart essentially because the United Auto Workers refused the part of the bill that would put its union workers at “parity pay”. This would have put them on par with their non-union counterparts’ wages who work at American plants for foreign car companies like Honda.
This is fitting that the UAW would be the responsible party for the bailout failure. I watched last Friday as the big three CEOs and the president of the UAW, Ron Gettelfinger, pleaded their case. Congress seemed to have a field day with the realization that they could demand just about anything, including the imposition of the “car czar”, and the CEOs would all emphatically agree that, whatever it takes, they were willing to do it in order to get a chance at that money. Gettelfinger was always quick to point out all the major sacrifices his union had already taken and that they wouldn’t be the scapegoat of the industry. Even then, he resisted any demands for concessions and when asked about the average pay for an auto-worker (including healthcare and other costs) amounting to $74/hr, he called that number a blatant lie on several occassions, but never offered any proof to the contrary.
If some other type of intervention doesn’t happen fast, we may find that the unions who brought the industry to its knees, may also put the nail in its coffin.Published in