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The Failed UAW Monopoly

April 3, 2009
Sitting on the Car Seats, rather than installing them.

UAW Members hold their sit down strike on car seat inventory.

For decades, the UAW has had unfair monopolistic power over the entire US auto industry. The UAW had power over management in many areas it had no business interfering. Seventy Years of Solidarity, 70 years according to their website. The UAW started in 1935. (Source: Time-line)

The UAW first prevented, then delayed automation in the industry. Companies like Toyota and Honda were heavily automated with robots that never called in sick, required health care or complained about the repetition of the work. Not GM, Ford or Chrysler. The UAW wanted to protect jobs. Automation robots took longer to implement in the American automobile industry at a cost of competitiveness with foreign manufacturers.

Year after year, the UAW was able to negotiate a deal with one company, then use that negotiation as leverage with the 2 remaining car companies. The UAW was too successful at negotiating higher wages and benefits.

UAW President Stephen P. Yokich led the charge against corporate-backed free trade policies. Not free trade policies in general, ‘corporate-backed free trade policies.’ So if the company wanted to be more competitive in 1995, President Yokich and his powerful union, tied the hands of GM, Ford and Chrysler. His 2002 epitaf reads: Stephen P. Yokich, the firebrand former leader of the United Auto Workers who was a leading force in a crippling strike against General Motors Corp. four years ago but who significantly increased benefits for union members, died of a stroke Friday in Detroit. He was 66.

Ron Gettelfinger was elected to a second term as president of the UAW on June 14, 2006, at the UAW’s 34th Constitutional Convention in Las Vegas. He was first elected to the union’s top leadership post at the 33rd Constitutional Convention in 2002. Gettelfinger is an outspoken advocate for national single-payer health care, a “Marshall Plan” which is another costly ‘Green” initiative and like his predicessor Yokich, he is still fighting the good fight against ‘free trade’. Ron, you just don’t get this capitalism thing, do you!

UAW targets were not limited to the US auto industry. After all UAW stands for the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America. Its just better known as the United Auto Workers Union. One of the longest labor disputes in the union’s history occurred at farm- and heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar. UAW members went on strike in November 1991 over overtime pay and health care adjustments that Caterpillar needed to remain competitive in a global economy.

The UAW had a whole arsenal of things they could do to get their way in negotiations. And they used them all. Strikes, work slowdowns, work stoppages, worker sick day abuse, coercion, intimidation, harassing managements family members, kidnapping and murder.

The UAW started to self destruct 1979 when it peaked at approximately 1.5 Million members. Since then more than a million members have left the UAW. High wages and benefits reduced the competitiveness of the American automobile industry. While foreign manufacturers where making cars in America with a $1000 per car cost advantage because they didn’t have the UAW to deal with.

It was the foreign car manufacturers who broke the UAW Monopoly when they out competed our domestic auto industry right in our own front yard.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 9, 2009 6:55 pm

    I have owned many GM vehicles in my fleet. Most of they were Chevy Astros. The vehicles were exactly what my company needed in terms of cargo space. They were just fuel efficient enough to make that a compelling argument to own them. We also owned about the same number of Dodge Caravans.

    The GM product did not hold up. I had models from early 1990s to 1999. The paint failed on the hood. Every truck made us look unprofessional. We looked like we were going out of business because the vehicle we drove made us look bad.

    Maintenance costs were higher than Chrysler, and we got about 50k fewer miles before we had to give up on the vehicle altogether. I have the records to prove it. But it was obvious, Chrysler products during this period were slightly better than GM. We never considered anything else.

    We looked bad, and yet we bought American. There was a time where we needed to drive American cars or risk losing a customer. So we were compelled to buy American. We supported the American worker. We supported the UAW monopoly.

    Who supported my business when my automotive costs went up? We had 22 vehicles including Ford Econoline, Dodge Ram Vans too.

  2. Ralph Lyke permalink
    March 15, 2013 4:46 pm

    The writer, John Beagle, didn’t even know when the autoworkers formed the UAW. It was in August of 1935, not 1929.

    Ralph Lyke
    Local 624, UAW

    • March 18, 2013 9:30 pm

      I stand corrected. It was the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) that was started in 1929. Thank you sir for the correction.


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