Saturday, November 15, 2008

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger pipes up

Everyone is chiming in lately about the plight of the US auto makers and what needs to be done. Well, we are now hearing from the president of the United Auto Workers Union, Ron Gettelfinger. Basically, he is repeating the mantra, asking Congress for the bailout and defending the auto workers.

From Automotive News:

"U.S. automakers urgently need a federal loan to survive, United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger said on Saturday, but their work force should not be blamed for the industry crisis.

Gettelfinger, in a rare news conference, said General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC were a critical part of the economy and needed the aid before President-elect Barack Obama takes office in January.

"We need to get this bridge loan and we need it in this lame duck session," he said, referring to next week's congressional session during which lawmakers will discuss emergency aid for the "big three" car companies.

Gettelfinger said it was unfair to blame UAW workers and retirees for the problems facing U.S. automakers."

I have noticed a lot of union bashing lately and many think the auto worker s are the reason the Big Three is in this mess. Nothing could be further from the truth. Do I think that auto worker's are actually worth the money they make? Probably not, but hey, more power to 'em if they can get that kind of money. Let's face it, the US auto makers are in this mess because they insisted on forcing gas guzzlers down our throats. Instead of working on hybrid technology and making their cars more fuel efficient, they gave us Hummers and Durangos. Sweet.

It takes about 25 man hours to assemble an automobile at the plant. At 50 dollars an hour, this equates to $1,250 dollars in union wages, which is a small fraction of the vehicle's final MSRP. I realize that you need to add in the cost of benefits and retirement but my point is that these relatively fixed costs are NOT the reason for the current failures. There is no reason to blame the UAW or its union members for the financial ills of the Big Three.

I wish journalists would blame the CEO's and Board Members and call them on the carpet. All three US automakers have made high mileage vehicles in the past (like 70 to 80 mpg) and all three have made electric vehicles, so what is stopping them now? I want a bailout to stipulate they commit to resuming production of these vehicles so we can get off oil!

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