Achieving Irrelevance

Monday, September 24, 2007
I can remember times when the business press would fill with speculation as to the possibility of a strike by the UAW. Paragraph after paragraph on page upon page would explore the potential ramifications of an auto strike. Which automaker would the UAW select as a target? Would the economy slide into a recession due to the strike? How would the target company fare if the strike was of any duration?

Of course, when the UAW hit it's peak membership of 1.5 million in 1969, it represented over 2% of the entire workforce, whereas today it has managed to shrink to less than 500,000 members and now represents less than one-third of a per cent of the workforce. Calling 73,000 out on strike just doesn't have much fearful resonance in an economy which has added workers at a rate of well over 100,000 per month for years.

Gettlefinger is caught between that old rock and a very hard place. He's reduced to a pathetic "job security" plea as a result of Reuther's heavy handed tactics going back to the '50's. He has made no inroads worth mention in terms of organizing the Japanese plants and calling a strike that won't put an additional nickel in any worker's pocket is unlikely to help organizers in the future. Why in the world would Toyota workers (who receive regular production performance based raises) want anything to do with a union which is succeeding only at self euthanasia?

One might wonder how long this strike would last if Ford locked out in support of GM. The union cancer will eventually kill both of them unless it's excised and Ford has that nice 18 billion in debt that it raised a year ago - why not use it to to cut out the tumor?