Thursday, March 29, 2007

Atlas Shrugging in Michigan

With Michigan's economy getting worse daily, Wednesday's March 28 Detroit News had the front page headline "UAW warns: We'll shut down Delphi" with a photo of UAW president Ron Gettlefinger sporting a raised, clenched fist. Yep, I thought, this is the way to attract jobs to Michigan alright.

Delphi is trying to get the courts to void wage and pension contracts so the company can pull itself out of chapter 11. It almost makes one feel sorry for Governor Jennifer Granholm who recently came back from running around Europe trying to beg companies to invest in Michigan. Almost.

Of course the governor, a Democrat, isn't getting any help from the state's two Democrat Senators, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, because they both declared last year that they would support a windfall profits tax (WPT) on oil companies. Consider the image projected by these two Senators: "You can set up shop in Michigan but don't you dare be too successful or we'll bash you over the head with a WPT." This coupled with Mr. Gettlefinger's clenched fist presents a very hostile image to all prospective investors. This image needs to change.

I sent this LTE to the News:
I was greatly disappointed to see the front page headline "UAW warns: We'll shut down Delphi." Mar/28th. with a photo of UAW president Ron Gettlefinger holding up a clenched fist. This adversarial attitude needs to be abandoned by today's unions and corporations.

If unions are to survive they need to offer a value not only to workers but to companies as well. First, unions themselves need to get the compulsory unionism laws repealed on the premise that if unionism is a value there is no need for it to be compulsory. Once unions are voluntary, they can then ask the companies and workers "What do you want?" or "What can we do for you?" There are many ways in which unions can be of value to workers and companies. These ways need to be explored now.

Unions don't create jobs. Corporations do by investing millions in new technologies and improving older ones. Unions need to be their friends not their enemies. A clenched fist is the wrong image to project.


I don't know if they'll print it but unions do need to change and become value-offering entities to both workers and companies. How? I'm not sure but these are the things lawyers should be working on instead of trying to find someone to sue. Meanwhile, Atlas just keeps on shrugging here in Michigan.

2 comments:

softwareNerd said...

Since 2007 is a year for contract-renewal, it's an important year for Michigan. It's my sense that many union members are open to making "concessions", though some militant ones still posture. The noise-making by union bosses is also probably a lot of bluster, because they must show that they were forced to back down, and cannot be seen as being pushovers.

To help the situation, I think it would help to write to the press, to the governor, to congressmen, on local blogs, to local radio-stations, constantly criticising the unions. Keep the pressure on.

Mike N said...

SN, Yes,I plan to continue with the LTEs and to the congressmen. I need to do more research to see if other states have any labor organizations that don't look like unions but look like...what? And what do they offer workers and companies?