The current stage of the UAW talks with the Big Three must be based on the assumption by the car companies and union that the rank and file works are boobs and buffons.
As The Wall Street Journal points out today, United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger "told members of his bargaining team that he is willing to agree in principle to the creation of a multibillion-dollar, union-controlled health-care trust." This trust would be funded by about $60 billion from the car companies. It would be run by the union. The advantage to the companies is that it takes about $95 billion in liabilities off of their balance sheets.
The deadline for the negotiations between the parites is set to end tomorrow.
But, there are problems. The UAW set up a similar fund "with Caterpillar Inc. in the late 1990s that ran out of money by the end of 2005." The "plain Joe" union member knows that.
Another problem is that many UAW workers have already voted to authorize a strike.
The typical UAW worker probably does not care who runs his health care and pension program. He wants the union to protect his job. With $80 oil and home defaults rising, he knows that a downturn in auto sales is already beginning.
And, that means that the UAW management and car companies may not be spending enough time settling the issues that the members care about.
Douglas A. McIntyre