Look for the Union Label...Courtesy of the Smoking Union Brand
It is simply amazing how obnoxious the UAW is, and how shameless. It drove two of the three U.S. automakers into bankruptcy by its ceaseless efforts to extract ever more ridiculous increases in compensation for ever more obscene decreases in work. It reached the acme of asininity when the union forced the automakers to pay workers who should have been laid off when their plants closed -- and this to sit around in cushy halls and play cards.
Then, when the companies hit the wall, the UAW used its corrupt connection to the Obama regime to engineer blatantly unethical bankruptcy proceedings, under which the union emerged as the predominant shareholder of the new Chrysler and (next to the federal government) the second-largest shareholder of the new GM. The secured creditors got the shaft, forced to take far less than that to which they were entitled.
Then, the Obama regime, colluding with the UAW, allowed the UAW to sell off its stock to make itself whole, while the regime held on to its shares.
The result is that the taxpayers, even after the recent modest recovery of the two companies, will -- even by the corrupt regime's own reckoning -- lose a massive $14 billion when the government finally liquidates its stock. Actually, because the rigged bankruptcy gave an unprecedented tax break to the new companies -- in essence, they are allowed to take future tax write-offs of debt from the old, defunct companies -- the taxpayer eventually will lose upwards of $12 billion more.
Yet now the UAW is entering into a new round of negotiations, and it plans to push Ford and the other two companies to -- wait for it! -- pledge to hire more union workers! Yes, even though the UAW workers' labor cost to Ford averages an extravagant $58 an hour, and at GM and Chrysler $49 an hour -- far higher than the $27 per hour at VW's new plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Hyundai's in Montgomery, Alabama -- the UAW expects the U.S. automakers to hire even more of the UAW's costly crew. This puts Ford in the crosshairs: while GM and Chrysler got no-strike agreements from the blatantly bribed union, Ford -- which did the honorable and patriotic thing by refusing the corrupt, government-rigged bankruptcy deal -- is open to strikes.
Thus, for doing the right thing, Ford is stuck with permanently higher labor costs, has to pay its taxes in full (bereft of the unjustified freebie write-offs its two American competitors get), and faces strikes if it doesn't hire going forward more of the very same union leeches who screwed it over to begin with. So much for justice.
Oh, but wait -- it gets better! The UAW has approached Volkswagen to unionize the workers at VW's Tennessee plant. It is holding talks in Wolfsburg with VW's German labor officials about representing the American workers. The idea is to allow the UAW to manage "workers' councils" along the lines of those in VW's German plants. VW management has made it clear that it won't block the UAW's attempt to represent the American VW workers. VW is obligated by a charter it signed with its global works council to have works councils at all of its plants, and the company is already setting up the requisite structure at its Tennessee plant.
Talk about assuming the position! It looks like VW may be frightened that the Obama regime will come calling if VW doesn't satisfy the UAW's lust. Considering what the regime did to the American taxpayer, VW's management has a right to be frightened.
It is not clear whether the Tennessee workers will approve the UAW. And, since Tennessee is a right-to-work state, even if they do, any workers who don't want to become part of the union can in theory refuse to join.
However, we can rationally expect three results. First, the UAW -- loaded with tons of money it has stolen from the American taxpayer -- will spare no expense to take control of the VW plant. There are now over a half-dozen foreign auto plants located in the South, none so far unionized, and the UAW would love to secure a beachhead as a prelude to conquering all of them. After all, its membership has plummeted from 1.5 million in 1979 down to a wretched 390,000 today. Seizing control of the VW plant would be quite a coup for the rapacious union.
Second, if the UAW does manage to win at the plant, it will be desperate to control the workers. Any who elect to opt out of the union in accordance with their legal (not to say moral) rights will likely be targeted for reprisals, of what form we cannot predict. Will it be mere continued attempts to talk them into joining? Or will it be harassment? Or will it perhaps take the form of discrimination in workplace assignments and promotions to force them to join? Or might it even involve physical violence?
Finally, the minute the UAW wins control, look to a large number of VW investors to just bail out by selling their shares or dumping their bonds. The last investors the UAW raped were the secured creditors of the old GM and Chrysler, and their backsides are still raw. In view of this history, anyone who has a nickel in VW after the UAW is in charge of the company's U.S. operations would have to be simply insane.
Gary Jason is a contributing editor of Liberty Unbound and the author of the forthcoming book Dangerous Thoughts.