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Thread: Chrysler contract indicates union members are getting weary of concessions...

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Chrysler contract indicates union members are getting weary of concessions...



    By Jack Lessenberry

    Happy Halloween, comrades. This is my favorite holiday, or would be if it didn't take so much energy to get those razor blades precisely into the dead center of the apple. Calculating the exact dosage of rat poison to put in the center of that chocolate bar is harder too, since today's kids are fatter.

    But holidays really are all about tradition, and conservatives like me love tradition, as does Detroit, where our ancestral rites revolve around cars, or did until a few years ago. Yes, there is still a domestic auto industry, and we still need it. However, it has shrunk about as much as our waistlines have expanded.

    What everyone needs to know is that the auto industry the baby boomers were born into isn't coming back. You might have thought everyone knew that already, but I am continually surprised by people who don't. Last week, workers at what remains of the Chrysler Corporation narrowly ratified their new contract.

    Looked at from a traditional union standpoint, it was a horrible deal. It sets up a two-tiered wage system, which means some new workers will be paid half as much as those there now. This is the sort of thing unions, especially the United Auto Workers, have always fought hard to prevent.

    Now, they have no choice, and they know it. Doug Fraser himself told me so, and there is no living union leader I respect more.

    "Chrysler has to pay wages competitive with the parts suppliers," he told me. Though he will be 91 in December, he still follows events closely. Fraser ran the UAW back when Chrysler almost went out of business and had to be bailed out with federal loan guarantees; later, he became the first union leader to sit on the Chrysler board.

    After that, of course, Chrysler was sold to a German firm, and then spat back out again earlier this year. Now it is owned by a mysterious private equity firm called Cerberus Capital Management, which took it off the stock exchange.

    Now that Chrysler has been taken private, the owners could break it apart, sell pieces off, close down plants, make the workers wear chenille uniforms, or rename the company the Allegheny Astronauts, if they wanted to.

    The contract they did sign includes a number of other givebacks and concessions, and, as at General Motors, transfer of retiree health care obligations to the union. The company will give the UAW money to do this ? billions ? but not nearly as much as, under current rules, all that health care will cost over time.

    If you see reduced benefits coming, you get it. Nevertheless, after a talk I gave a few days ago, a man came up and asked if this meant "Chrysler would be back." I was puzzled. "Say again?" I said. "Como? What you mean?"

    "Do you think Chrysler can be as big as it was in the 1960s?" I looked at him. Chrysler, in a best-case scenario, I told him, would most likely be smaller than it is today a few years from now. The question is whether it can survive at all.

    I realized, however, that I was not really an expert on the industry, so I talked to David Cole, who is the expert's expert; He's the chairman of the Center for Automotive Research. Does this new agreement give the automaker what it needs to compete in today's world?

    "I don't think so," he said. Not that it wasn't absolutely essential, he added. "They had to have this agreement ? they had to get their labor costs under control. They face roughly a $25- to $30-an-hour cost disadvantage with their foreign competitors who are building cars in the United States."

    But this deal isn't enough by itself to make Chrysler competitive, he said; they need a merger with a foreign partner. "They are now almost exclusively a North American company," ? only 4 to 5 percent of their business is elsewhere.

    Chrysler is also relatively weak in cars; they are better off in trucks. Volkswagen, he said, might be an ideal partner.

    There are small positive signs; Chrysler announced after the deal was approved that it was investing $366 million in its Jefferson North assembly plant, money that is supposed to "create or retain" as many as 1,400 jobs. (That may be ominous, however, since more than 2,000 people work there now.)

    With a Chrysler contract ratified, the focus now turns to Ford, which is in some ways the sickest of all the Not-So-Big Three. Ford desperately needs to get its costs under control, and to get rid of its health care burden. But the vote on the Chrysler contract indicates union members are getting weary of concession after concession. This final round of negotiations may well be the hardest of all.

    Eventually, someday, it is possible that the domestic auto industry could stage a comeback. New technologies would help ? if they develop them here first.

    Their best hope may be figuring out a way to break our dependence on oil. David Sandalow's new book Freedom From Oil (McGraw Hill; $26.95) has some intriguing ideas about this. But it is worth remembering that for years the big automakers tried hard to kill technologies that would provide an alternative to oil. (See the movie ? if you can find it ? Who Killed the Electric Car?)

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    Re: Chrysler contract indicates union members are getting weary of concessions..

    So, they've decided to take some of something rather than risk having all of nothing?

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Chrysler contract indicates union members are getting weary of concessions..

    Quote Originally Posted by jdm
    So, they've decided to take some of something rather than risk having all of nothing?
    Pretty much all they an do; but this "work arbitrage" screw-over is going to affect us all. The wages of more and more Americans are going to be brought low - to the level of the stoop labor of the Second and Third world. This is the end product of the vulture capitalist system of "free" trade that's been put into place.

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    Re: Chrysler contract indicates union members are getting weary of concessions..

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric


    Pretty much all they an do; but this "work arbitrage" screw-over is going to affect us all. The wages of more and more Americans are going to be brought low - to the level of the stoop labor of the Second and Third world. This is the end product of the vulture capitalist system of "free" trade that's been put into place.
    Maybe yes and maybe no - one could make a fair comparison of the present state of things to the industrial revolution Luddites and all. We'll probably all be gone by the time the returns are in, so who knows?

    Over the past 25 years, technology has replaced any number of moderately skilled workers including typists, bookkeepers, car assemblers (it's possible to almost completely automate a car plant), etc., etc.

    Then again, we all may beating our foreheads on the floor with our butts in the air five times a day.


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    Re: Chrysler contract indicates union members are getting weary of concessions..

    Quote Originally Posted by jdm
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric


    Pretty much all they an do; but this "work arbitrage" screw-over is going to affect us all. The wages of more and more Americans are going to be brought low - to the level of the stoop labor of the Second and Third world. This is the end product of the vulture capitalist system of "free" trade that's been put into place.
    Maybe yes and maybe no - one could make a fair comparison of the present state of things to the industrial revolution Luddites and all. We'll probably all be gone by the time the returns are in, so who knows?

    Over the past 25 years, technology has replaced any number of moderately skilled workers including typists, bookkeepers, car assemblers (it's possible to almost completely automate a car plant), etc., etc.

    Then again, we all may beating our foreheads on the floor with our butts in the air five times a day.

    I doubt the last, but the way NZ and some other Western countries do it is nationalised old-age and healthcare funded by universal income tax.

    This makes the pressure on wages slightly different, and reduces pressure on employers. The people who resent the taxes are mostly the people born with a silver spoon in their mouth...

    I cannot see nationalised anything being popular in the US... but possibly at State level?

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    Re: Chrysler contract indicates union members are getting weary of concessions..

    Quote Originally Posted by robmcg


    I cannot see nationalised anything being popular in the US... but possibly at State level?
    Well, it almost is in fact, if not in name.

    A preponderance of state spending, apart from salaries, is supplemented (or mostly paid for) by the federal government.

    This practice is evil incarnate because it lets the feds dictate policy.

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    Re: Chrysler contract indicates union members are getting weary of concessions..

    Quote Originally Posted by jdm
    A preponderance of state spending, apart from salaries, is supplemented (or mostly paid for) by the federal government.

    This practice is evil incarnate because it lets the feds dictate policy.
    Time you emigrated to a practical sensible country.

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    Re: Chrysler contract indicates union members are getting weary of concessions..

    Quote Originally Posted by robmcg

    Time you emigrated to a practical sensible country.
    They are all bad -

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    Re: Chrysler contract indicates union members are getting weary of concessions..

    Quote Originally Posted by jdm
    They are all bad -
    What a grumpy old man!

    You don't know how lucky you are, kind sir. Fuel at under $1.00 per litre. In our more civilised Brirish country it's $1.30. But do we complain? As we get free healthcare, no-fault accident insurance, pensions for everyone, and two hours of Coronation Street on telly every week...

    We even have troops in 12 locations around the world, excluding Iraq... except we have privateers there...

    Not that we are perfect. We were defeated by the French, again, at Rugby...

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    Re: Chrysler contract indicates union members are getting weary of concessions..

    Quote Originally Posted by robmcg


    You don't know how lucky you are, kind sir. Fuel at under $1.00 per litre.
    Ah, but I do, we have none of those heathen French liters in this fair land, nothing but honest, God fearing American gallons.


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    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Chrysler contract indicates union members are getting weary of concessions...

    Quote Originally Posted by jdm
    Quote Originally Posted by robmcg


    You don't know how lucky you are, kind sir. Fuel at under $1.00 per litre.

    Ah, but I do, we have none of those heathen French liters in this fair land, nothing but honest, God fearing American gallons.

    Quick, without looking it up, what is the displacement of the engine in your RAV4?

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    Re: Chrysler contract indicates union members are getting weary of concessions..

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    Quote Originally Posted by jdm
    Quote Originally Posted by robmcg


    You don't know how lucky you are, kind sir. Fuel at under $1.00 per litre.
    Quick, without looking it up, what is the displacement of the engine in your RAV4?

    Ah, but I do, we have none of those heathen French liters in this fair land, nothing but honest, God fearing American gallons.

    About 213 cubic inches.

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    Re: Chrysler contract indicates union members are getting weary of concessions..

    Quote Originally Posted by jdm


    About 213 cubic inches.
    How many gallons displacement is that? Of water at 20C

    Imperial if you please...

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    Re: Chrysler contract indicates union members are getting weary of concessions..

    Quote Originally Posted by robmcg


    How many gallons displacement is that? Of water at 20C

    Imperial if you please...
    We don't do centigrade (or Celsius or Rankine or Kelvin) around here, nor do we do those silly Imperial things.

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    Re: Chrysler contract indicates union members are getting weary of concessions...

    I'll have 312 cubic inches of fuel then. And look lively!

    Hey, do you have a special lane at gas stations for express-service by polite intelligent people, for disabled people?
    If not, this is an attack on my human rights!

    God forbid I pay extra to fill my own... let the rich b****ds subsidize me...


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    Re: Chrysler contract indicates union members are getting weary of concessions..

    Quote Originally Posted by robmcg
    I'll have 312 cubic inches of fuel then. And look lively!
    My second car had a 312 inch motor but ran on gallons.


    Hey, do you have a special lane at gas stations for express-service by polite intelligent people, for disabled people?
    If not, this is an attack on my human rights!
    Before getting into that issue, as a condition precedent, your claim to being a human will have to be adjudicated.


    God forbid I pay extra to fill my own... let the rich b****ds subsidize me...

    That's rank discrimination and it's morally wrong. I am perfectly willing to let all of the b*****ds subsidize me, be they rich, poor, or otherwise.

    Ask not the source, it all spends.

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    Re: Chrysler contract indicates union members are getting weary of concessions..

    Quote Originally Posted by jdm

    Before getting into that issue, as a condition precedent, your claim to being a human will have to be adjudicated.
    I'm not applying to be Attorney-General, you know...

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    Re: Chrysler contract indicates union members are getting weary of concessions...

    Quote Originally Posted by robmcg
    Hey, do you have a special lane at gas stations for express-service by polite intelligent people, for disabled people?
    If not, this is an attack on my human rights!
    When you pull into a self-service station, there's a button marked with a handicapped icon you can press on the pump for the attendent to come pump the gas for you.

    One small detail -- you can't reach it from inside the car. So if you're going to get the chair out to push the button, you might as well run the gas too.

    I suppose it might be useful for people with prosthetic arms.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  19. #19
    mrblanche
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    Re: Chrysler contract indicates union members are getting weary of concessions..

    What do you think a cane is for?

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    Re: Chrysler contract indicates union members are getting weary of concessions...

    Oh, wasn't thinking of canes.

    There you go, Rob. Keep a stick in the car.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

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