Live Bait & Ammo #123: You already know the Answer

Ron Gettelfinger said the UAW “will not reopen its contracts.” [“As a Condition of Loan, UAW cannot Strike against General Motors” -Detroit Free Press, 1/08/09]

   You know what that means. The UAW will reopen the contracts.

Gettelfinger said the union will ensure that "...what we do is done in the best interest of our members as well as our retirees." [“Autoworkers Union begins talks on Concessions”- Associated Press, 1/08/09]

   You know what th at means. Grab your ankles.

Rick Wagoner harmonized, “GM can continue to operate without cutting benefits to retirees.”   [“Wagoner: Retiree Benefits Safe” -Detroit Free Press 1/08/09]

   You know what that means. Don’t wake the sleeping giant.

Ron Gettelfinger stands for concessions. That’s why he went to Washington: to signal his readiness to make sacrifices on behalf of auto workers. He’s well known in tight circles.
Some of Gettelfinger’s “most enthusiastic supporters are the top executives of the U.S. auto industry.” [“Union Leader Presides Over Painful Changes” -Washington Post, 5-15-06] 

For example, Automotive News named Ron Gettelfinger “The Person of the Year” and toasted him at a special banquet in honor of his successful capitulation of every thing the union stands for, in other words, “.....he convinced theUAW's rank-and-file that the concessions were necessary.” [ “Gettelfinger Achieved Landmark Labor Deals” -Automotive News, 12/31/07]

The enthusiasm is contagious.
Dale Buss of the anti union Mackinac Center for Public Policy “gushes that the cooperative attitude of Fraser and Bieber pales in comparison to the UAW’s newest strategy under President Ron Gettelfinger.” [“UAW Gets Praise from Unlikely Source” - Rick Haglund, AP, Grand Rapids Press, - 3/2/05]
That’s nothing.

David Cole, the son of a former President of General Motors, and a director of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, six automotive supplier companies, and the Center for Automotive Research gushed,  "Somebody ought to give UAW President Ron Gettelfinger the Nobel Prize....If we were in England, he'd be knighted." [“Manufacturing jobs, UAW at Risk with 2-tier Wage” -Detroit Free Press, 10/04/2007]
Ron is a man of deep, corporate convictions. He believes in “shared abundance”.
“Shared abundance means labor and management can win together, by working on common goals, instead of fighting over who has to absorb the pain created by idle capacity,” he said. At American Axle,Gettelfinger added, labor-management cooperation has helped elevate the supplier to a top-ranked performer — even in the eyes of Wall Street.  “Not only has American Axle’s UAW-represented work force increased since 1994,” he said. “Its stock price has more than doubled.” [“UAW Trades20Wages for Jobs”--Detroit News, 1/29/04]
Despite his belief in “shared abundance” he’s realistic about the results of concessions “....if you concede a benefit, you figure it’s gone. It would be hard to get it back. I’ve said before, I’ve been in negotiations for a number of times over the years, I don’t ever remember a company calling us up and saying, ‘Hey, you know what? We’re doing so well since those negotiations, we feel like we shorted you guys and want to give you a little more.’ (Laughs) I know once it’s negotiated away, it’s gone.” [Interview: Detroit Free Press, 7-12-05] 

That’s right, he “laughs” for the record.

Of course realism did not protect him from a stick in the eye. "I did not anticipate that we would be where we're at with Axle," RonGettelfinger told the Detroit News. [ “UAW: No R ole in Axle Talks” -Detroit News, 4/29/08]

Nonetheless, he’s a master at squeezing lemonade from bitter rinds.

He gave Delphi everything the company wanted and called it a victory. [see Live Bait &Ammo #WTF]
So, what exactly did Gettelfinger expect when he negotiated funeral arrangements for the UAW in exchange for an underfunded VEBA?  He got the shyster’s promise, but he didn’t get the money.

I think that bears repeating. He didn’t get the money. He destroyed solidarity forever by cutting wages for new hires and abolishing their hopes for pension and health care in retirement and


Did he really expect the companies would push piles of cash across the table at some later date?

More to the point, do we really expect the leopard to change his spots?

In February 1998 Billy Robinson, the president of Local 2036, in Henderson, Kentucky called Ron Gettelfinger for advice. At that time Gettelfinger was the UAW Region 3 Director. Billy explained that negotiations at Accuride were stalled. Gettelfinger said,  “Take ‘em out.” Billy cautioned him that Accuride had hired union busting consultants and did not appear willing to negotiate. Gettelfinger repeated,  “Take ‘em out.” [Live Bait & Ammo #30]
Forty days later members of Local 2036 voted to reject the union busting contract for a second time, but also to return to work unconditionally. In response,Accuride locked them out. It was apparent that Accuride was not interested in bargaining.  Accuride intended to bust the union. 
In June 1998 Gettelfinger ascended to International Vice-President in charge of Ford. From that lofty perch he began to display all the “social movement” of a chicken crossing the road. First, he supported the strike and made a commitment to stand behind them “for as long as it takes”. Then, he concurred with the International Executive Board to cut off strike benefits. Then, he agreed to put the Local  underadministratorship. Then, at the hearing, he pretended not to know anything about the Local, or Accuride . Then, he agreed to restore strike benefits at twice the normal rate. Then, he agreed to cut benefits, for a second time. Then, he agreed to pull the local union charter, if theydidn’t ratify. On March 28, 2002 the UAW International sent a letter to Accuride stating, “The International Union and its Local 2036 hereby disclaim interest in representing hourly employees at Accuride’s Henderson, Kentucky facility.” Nobody from the International  bothered telling the locked out UAW members of Local 2036 anything, not even so much as ‘Good riddance’. Looking back, one has to wonder, just what the Fickle Finger meant when he said,  “Take ‘em out.”

The record begs the question: why does Gettelfinger roll over in negotiations?

Don’t trouble your head. It’s a rhetorical question like,  “Why did the chicken cross the road?” 
You already know the answer.

SOS, Gregg Shotwell