Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tennessean Columnist Joins the Class War against Unions Regardless of Management

According to Gail Kerr, if you dare even criticize Bob Corker's one-sided targeting of unions as the cause of the demise of the auto industry (let's not forget Honda is contracting and Toyota is putting its Tupelo plant plans on hold, even as they enjoy state and local tax breaks and other bailout-type subsidies), then you are a "union loyalist." You might even be making a reasonable argument, but you are still a friggin' "loyalist," which in the Bush era carries connotations of blind and unquestioning obedience (as if Gannett journalists are not loyal to the corporation that pays them and lately makes them thankful to still have jobs at Christmas).

Kerr all but calls Senator Corker a savior. But what does she see him saving the industry from? From workers trying to protect their health care benefits. She is attacking people for trying to provide basic health care for themselves and their families. She is blaming people for quite naturally trying to stay healthy. But she, like many corporate journalists in these Nissan/Volkswagen states are loath to raise the issue of CEOs who spend whatever amount they can get on the best health care for themselves and their own (let alone raise the issue of fleets of company cars and planes, expensive retreats, and golden parachutes). Would Bob Corker ever demand that CEOs be willing to give up half of their benefits as a concession? Would Gail Kerr ever call him a savior for doing so?

But those of us who would not blame another working sap for doing whatever it takes to make the best of a bad health care situation in this country are tabbed as union loyalists by Gail Kerr. I am not in a union, don't come from a union family, and have criticized union corruption on this blog in the past. But if I dare criticize Tennessee's new media darling and his storied advent to the national stage, then according to Kerr I am a loyalist. So be it.

This loyalist awaits Gail Kerr's call for management to make their own proportional sacrifices. Unions are not the only ones who should be held accountable for not bending. And I also await Kerr's explanation of the method by which the U.S. will absorb the rising health care costs of the increasing number of uninsured retirees who cannot afford preventative care once the unions bend to give up half their health care benefits. Heaven forbid that she, like Dickens' Scrooge, believes they should just die off and "decrease the surplus population."


  1. "One-sided targeting of unions"?

    The proposal that was being discussed had bondholders losing 70% of the value of their holdings, while the autoworkers were being asked to match the labor costs of foreign competitors on US soil. Nobody is placing the blame for the auto crisis entirely on the UAW, but they are being asked to share in the burden of a rescue package, something their leadership is so far unwilling to do.

    In light of what's going on, people want to see the UAW step up and offer to be a part of the solution, not part of the problem.

  2. How is offering to sacrifice job security provisions and financing for retiree health care being "unwilling" to share the burden?


    That's a curious definition of "unwilling"

  3. Those two steps are nice, but they don't significantly impact the cost of labor going forward. Those workers remaining after a round of job cuts would still be much more expensive than those with other firms.

    Bottom line, the alternative is bankruptcy and a forced change in the contract, and most people around the country are fine with the idea of sending GM and/or Chrysler down that road.