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Friday, December 12, 2008

Only Senate Republicans Can Bring The Change We Need To The Auto Industry UPDATE: What A Union Contract Looks Like

As of last night, Senate negotiations to loan money to GM and Chrysler fell apart over the issue of UAW wage and benefit concessions. The UAW's ability to run roughshod over corporate management is one of, if not the, most important factors that has brought the U.S. auto industry to the brink of collapse. The U.S. auto industry cannot survive, even with a bailout, with the present structure of unsustainable wages, benefits, and equally important, work rules.

A good argument could be made that the Senate should not be involved in negotiating the nitty-gritty of an auto industry restructuring. A better argument could be made that if the Senate doesn't impose wage and benefit concessions now as a pre-condition for financing, then such concessions never will be forthcoming outside of a bankruptcy proceeding.

Only Senate Republicans can force through the structural changes needed to breath new life into the U.S. auto industry. Unions donated hundreds of millions of dollars to Democratic candidates and pro-Democratic issue advertising. There is no way that Democratic Senators or an Obama administration could play hardball with unions, and the Bush administration is just running out the clock. Auto industry executives have no credibility with the unions, which have out-negotiated the executives for decades.

If not Senate Republicans, who? If not now, when?

UPDATE: What a Union contract, with thousands of work rules, looks like Here


  1. as a law professor, i'm a little surprised that you fell for that photo. look at the links at the bottom. what LaborPains.org calls "volume one" is actually the entire collective bargaining agreement. it's 377 pages long. they way that LaborPains fraudulently claims that the labor agreement is almost 7 times larger than that is by adding to that the ERISA required fund documents for the various retirement and health insurance plans. i'm sure if you printed out all the rules and regulations of your health care plan, plus all the rules for your TIAA-CREF plan you, along with the faculty manual for cornell, you would have a document of over 2000 pages as well.

  2. You have a point, but only so far. Of the contract in the picture, more than half (1542 pages) has nothing to do with benefits, but are work rules and agreements. The Cornell University Faculty Handbook, available on line, http://theuniversityfaculty.cornell.edu/handbook/toc.html, is about 200 pages with appendices. Even if you add in miscellaneous rules which might not be in the handbook, it doesn't come close to 1542 pages. And even if it did, that would not prove that the UAW contracts are not unduly burdensome; two wrongs don't make a right.