April 23, 2024

This is one of those stories that kind of hits close to home for me because I live in Michigan outside of Metro Detroit. If you know anything about this region of the country then you know that the Midwest — particularly Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana — is the traditional Rust Belt home home of the big three.

Advertisement

While no one in my immediate family is a member of the UAW, I have extended family and friends who are. They have been for the past couple of weeks on pins and needles trying to figure out which way the situation with the contract negotiations with the United Auto Workers and GM, Ford, and Stellantis would go. We now know they did go on strike, partially.

And while I’ve been reading about those contract negotiations and the demands from the union members and the company’s counter offers, I think there is something that has not been covered as much and I’d like to shed some light on it here. 

The UAW leadership, which has for decades been in bed with the Democrats, is going to kill the very jobs that they are trying to protect in these negotiations. There is no way to put that lightly and there’s no reason to dance around the subject matter any longer.

Joe Biden and the Democrats’ push for electric vehicles will gut the membership of the United Auto Workers as it stands today and the UAW leadership is doing nothing about that.

My colleague Becca Lower covered this angle a bit last month in her piece below.

UAW Threatens Strike Against Automakers, Reminds Biden, Democrats of Their ‘Obligation’ to Big Labor

He ( Biden) continued by saying “that UAW helped create the middle class in the U.S. and ‘deserves a contract that sustains the middle class.'”

But something else Biden included in his remarks doesn’t sit well with the union: pushing, once again, the Administration’s plans to force the “transition” to EVs (electric vehicles) on the American public:

Biden added that he supports a fair transition to a clean energy future, doubling down on the issue while the UAW is currently withholding its endorsement of his reelection bid due to concerns over the White House’s focus on electric vehicles (EVs).

UAW President Shawn Fain made comments via livestream after the announcement about the strike and he hinted, not too subtly, that the union is depending on Biden and their Democrat friends in Congress to throw their weight on the scales in the negotiations with the Big Three:

….Fain told members that Biden “is not in our contract” but he said there is expectation that the “government, when they’re giving all our tax dollars to these companies and they form joint ventures to circumvent their obligation to us and to our standards, that something needs to change.[…]

“And it’s up to the Biden administration and our people in Congress to fix those things when it comes to our tax dollars going to those companies with with [sic] no conditions.

Advertisement

Your “people” in Congress are more scared of the other side than you or your union folks Shawn.

When I read this piece here and looked at some of the numbers of how many jobs would be lost to the transition to electric vehicles I was amazed that the union leadership even gives a dime to the Democrats.

President Joe Biden praised General Motors chief executive Mary Barra at a 2022 event, saying “we owe you big” for pushing the auto industry towards all-electric production over the next decade. The president’s kind words for Barra, and their decision to team up to back a transition to electric vehicles, could come back to haunt both parties amid a historic United Auto Workers strike.

The 150,000-member union has singled out Barra as an example of corporate greed at the “Big Three” automakers, a group that also includes Ford and Stellantis. UAW, which launched a strike at four auto plants last week, took a shot at Barra over her industry-leading $29 million annual salary. UAW president Shawn Fain declared “war” on the Big Three last month, citing the $200 million Barra has raked in over the past decade. The union wants a hefty increase to salaries and benefits for its members, along with assurances that jobs will be protected during the transition to EV production.

That dramatic shift will likely come at a steep cost in terms of auto industry jobs, and the transition to electric vehicles is at the center of the auto workers’ complaints. According to one estimate, the transition to EV production will come at the cost of 117,000 auto jobs.

Advertisement

These large estimates are not from some right-wing think tank that just wants to destroy the planet. The UAW’s own people are sounding the alarm and the members and the media seem to be in benevolent silence about it.

“The workers who are making engines and transmissions today, their jobs will be eliminated when we make a transition to electric vehicles,” UAW research director Jennifer Kelly said earlier this year. And Jim Farley, the CEO of Ford, said last year he expects electric vehicles will require 40 percent less labor to produce than traditional automobiles.

How does the old saying go: With friends like these, who needs enemies?

This strike is more about trying to get past the corrupt perception that some of the union members themselves have of the union leadership which if you recall was just wrapped up a couple of years ago. Just as a refresher in case you have forgotten.

The immediate past president of the United Auto Workers was sentenced Thursday to 28 months in prison for his part in a scheme with other leaders to steal as much as $1.5 million in union funds for lavish trips, golfing, alcohol and other luxuries.

Gary Jones is the second UAW president to be sentenced as part of a multiyear corruption probe into the prominent American labor union. He is one of 15 people to have been charged, including three Fiat Chrysler (now Stellantis) executives and his predecessor, Dennis Williams, who was sentenced last month to 21 months in prison.

His sentencing is among the last in the investigation, which has tarnished the union’s reputation, created mistrust among its members and led to federal oversight of the UAW.

Advertisement

If you have lived in Metro Detroit long enough you invariably meet and mingle with people and hear some amazing stories of how the UAW leadership has lived high on the members’ hard work for a very long time. This led me to believe long ago that UAW Leadership was every bit as corrupt as they accused the car companies’ CEOs of. 

So when you read some of the demands of what union leadership is asking for and how hard they are beating the drum, starting off at almost a 50 percent pay increase during the life of the contract, you know that is not a reasonable position. I fully understand that you ask for much higher than what you will eventually settle for, but some of these demands are just laughable and meant to stir the pot to hopefully change the subject of union corruption of the past and get into a fight to show that this is not business as usual down at Solidarity House.

This is a bit of a show to try and get over the bad taste in the workers’ mouths of how they got screwed by their own leadership for years. However, Shawn could turn that around really quickly. The UAW’s own research director, Jennifer Kelly, in the article above flatly declares that those people who are making engines and transmissions now in union plants will have their jobs eliminated by Democrats’ legislation. 

So the first thing UAW membership should be demanding of their leadership is not to give an additional dime to a Democrat who is pushing electric vehicles down the throats of the American people. Also, union peeps should demand Democrats stop offering huge taxpayer incentives to purchase a product that is not demanded naturally by the consumer-driven market. 

Advertisement

The second thing union leadership could do is stop taking a paycheck in unison with those who are on strike and also those who possibly will be called on strike in the future. I know some of the workers and the media get the warm and fuzzies when they see leadership out there on the picket line but they should be spending every moment of their time at the bargaining table to get this thing hammered out.

Now, I’m fully aware that these suggestions will be ignored. 

Mostly because for the whole time that I’ve been observing how the UAW operates with the Democrats, it has essentially been a Stockholm Syndrome type of phenomenon. Union leadership will say they’re going to play tough with the Democrats, but behind the closed door in the smoke-filled room, the elected officials tell them they have nowhere else to go and to shut up and sit down. 

They do every time.

I would love to say this time will be different but I have experience in these things because I used to be a Detroit Lions fan. Your team gets you all ramped up and eventually in the end lets you down and leaves you to mutter things that I can’t print here being this is a family-friendly publication.

I truly hope it is different this time and that the highly paid leadership at the UAW actually puts in place protections for their members and the American economy.

Advertisement

However just like the Detroit Lions of last week, I think they will give it up in overtime, and business as usual will remain.

Make sure to check out my BIO right over here and let me know what you think whether you agree or disagree or might be somewhere in the middle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *