The GM Strikes: An Eye-Opening Perspective

From Investor’s Business Daily’s editorial [06/22/98]: “It takes a lot of effort to put on a strike. Bodies are needed for the picket lines from dawn ’til after dusk. Somebody has to work the telephones. And the media message must be honed. That’s almost as much coordinated work as it takes to build cars. So we want to know: Why don’t members of the United Auto Workers direct their energy to making a superior product, instead of striking General Motors. There are many reasons, but one big one is that the union bosses wouldn’t like it. Workers would learn that they don’t need the union. They could earn high wages by simply turning out a car that buyers prefer…

The Flint stamping facility is at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to productivity. It has about half the output per hour worked of similar GM facilities. And the plant has a history of militant union activism that the carmaker estimates cost it $50 million a year…

Autoworkers are close to pricing themselves out of job. The average annual wage for workers at the Flint stamping plant is $69,000. Add in benefits, and the package hits $98,000. That’s not all. Some employees work only 4.5 to 6.5 hours a day but get paid for 8…
Union workers believe their jobs belong to them, even if they strike. They beef about employers sending ‘our jobs’ abroad, where labor is cheaper. Here’s some news for strikers: No one has a moral right to a job. Labor is a good and should be treated as such… Union members have forgotten that the value of someone’s labor should be determined by merit, not extortion.”

UAW Bosses in Las Vegas
While the rank-and-file are on the front lines, UAW bosses were living-it-up in Las Vegas this week at the national convention. HIGHLIGHTS:

  • On Jun. 24, Steve Yokich was reelected UAW President by acclamation. Yokich and his slate had no opposition and no roll call of the 2,000 delegates was taken. “With the jazz band playing and delegates cheering, the newly elected officers immediately formed a receiving line, and for the next 2 hours nearly all of the conventions delegates lined up to congratulate the leaders on center stage.” [BNA Daily Labor Report 06/25/98].
  • UAW created a new vice presidential slot devoted to organizing.
  • UAW is planning to merge with the United Steelworkers & the International Association of Machinists. Current plans call for the merger to be completed in 2000 with 2 million members — making the new union the largest private-sector union over the Teamsters at 1.4 million. [BNA Daily Labor Report 06/24/98]