Was UAW No-Strike Clause Another GM Bailout Deception?

Back during the days of General Motors’ bankruptcy proceedings, media reports cited the many “sacrifices” made by the politically favored UAW. I have long wondered what these many sacrifices were, as UAW members seem to be doing pretty well since the GM bankruptcy. One such “sacrifice” was a supposed agreement that the UAW could not go on strike at GM until after 2015, as mentioned in this Bloomberg piece, and accepted as fact by all media sources. I questioned this assertion in a piece I wrote in December of 2010, but as has been the case with much of the coverage of GM, the potential GM deception was left unchallenged by auto journalists and the mainstream media. Recent reports of a strike authorized by GM UAW workers in Kansas now raise the question of if my suspicions were correct that there are no binding agreements to prevent strikes at GM plants.

The culture of deceit at Government Motors since the Obama Administration’s orchestrated bankruptcy becomes apparent on many occasions. The Chevy Volt is an ongoing debacle with continued bogus claims of strong demand for the vehicle as taxpayers are reimbursing each wealthy purchaser of the car up to the tune of $7500 plus state credits. Financial strength at GM has been touted by GM management, yet the share price is indicative of skepticism by those managing the smart money. The Obama Administration declared taxpayers would make money on their GM market-timing gamble, but billions of dollars have been flushed away. And now we discover that yet another representation of a UAW “sacrifice” may have been deceptive if local UAWs can authorize strikes. Was the no-strike claim fabricated to help garner political support for handing over $50 billion of taxpayer money to bail out GM or is the Kansas strike authorization a bluff?

Any strike at GM would be an embarrassment to both the Obama Administration, whose alliance with the UAW is clear, and GM itself. That is why I believe that there will be no strike as people in high places will go to great lengths to assure a deal is cut quickly, even if it means that GM has to cave in to UAW demands. Perhaps the International UAW can override a local strike authorization. Whatever the case, the UAW seems ungrateful after having been bailed out and the President continues to campaign on the perceived success at GM. The conflicts of interest caused by the Administration’s refusal to exit the auto business by selling taxpayers’ stakes in GM and Ally Financial has become a hot political topic and any UAW strike at this point will expose the no-strike clause claims as deceptive and garner a lot of unwanted attention. Attention that neither GM, nor the White House, would want. As has been the strategy in the past, Government  Motors will rely on mainstream media and the public to ignore the deception.

I would welcome an explanation as to how we went from having a guarantee that UAW members would not strike to an authorized strike for 3,400 workers at GM’s Fairfax plant that produces the Chevy Malibu and Buick Lacrosse. Was the no-strike clause claim a fabrication? Either apologists for GM will point to a technicality that local UAW members were excluded from any no-strike clause or the strike authorization carries no weight. Nonetheless, the implication from Government Motors that the UAW could not strike was deceptive if the local UAW in Kansas can actually carry through on their strike threat and auto journalists along with the rest of the media should be a bit more skeptical of a politically influenced corporation that is losing credibility quickly.

Mark Modica is an NLPC Associate Fellow.