David Gregory Tries To Union Bust Auto Companies; GM CEO Refuses To Play Along

[media id=7779] (h/t Dave) Unlike David Gregory, I have never held a job that benefited from union representation. And in some of those jobs (real es

(h/t Dave)

Unlike David Gregory, I have never held a job that benefited from union representation. And in some of those jobs (real estate development comes to mind), I've felt that lack of collective bargaining, when it became patently obvious that my employers had little regard for equal pay, fair work hours (one job I had felt it was okay to make me work seven days a week, as long as my total weekly hours totaled 40) and even job safety.

But David Gregory has presumably been a member of at least one union as a television "journalist" for the last ten+ years. Apparently, it's a "great for me, but not for thee" kind of thing for Gregory, because as he speaks to new GM CEO Fritz Henderson. Gregory wants desperately for Henderson to buy into the Media Establishment™ meme that the failure of the auto industry is all about those pesky unions. According to Stretch, the problem with the auto industy does not have to do with their reluctance to adapt to the changing marketplace and get more fuel-efficient cars to the market or being a forerunner (instead of following behind Honda and Toyota) in alternative fuel cars, but because of those stinkin', leechy unions demanding they live up to their contracts and provide pensions for retirees.

Luckily, Henderson ain't gonna play that. When Gregory tries to get Henderson to concede that there are union-mandated jobs in auto factories that have nothing to do with actually making cars, Henderson has to remind Gregory that safety officers are kinda important to industrial manufacturers.

GREGORY: Well, let's talk about how you can do more. How many union jobs are there in a typical factory for General Motors that have nothing to do with producing automobiles?

HENDERSON: Well, actually every job we have in the factory has something to do with producing an automobile. Whether it's obviously putting the actual car together or supplying materials to the line or maintaining the equipment that’s in the plant. So we have worked very hard and if you look at external surveys, for example, like a Harbor Report, we have closed the gap in terms of competiveness, in terms of the manpower. We have within our operation. We need to do more. Every person in the plant has something to do with putting together a car or truck.

GREGORY: But in some factories, you have a shop steward who's responsible for appointing--whether it's a civil rights chief or an education person, these are all union jobs that don’t have anything to do with producing the cars.

HENDERSON: Well, we have -- the union has key jobs, as you identified, but let's take an example. Let’s take health and safety-- we work together with the union health and safety in our plants. We have the safest plants in the United States, in fact, around the globe. And I think providing, for example, a safe work place is very much in the best interests of the company as well as the union.

Oops...don't you hate it when facts get in the way of a nice little union-busting rant, David? And of course, you miss the forest for the trees on the healthcare costs of pensioners. If the US actually had single-payer health care coverage for its citizens--like every other western country--then the auto industry could actually be relieved of those expenses.

But David, it would make FAR too much sense to propagandize FOR something that benefits the country instead of propagandizing AGAINST unions, wouldn't it?

Transcripts below the fold

GREGORY:…The legacy costs, meaning all of the costs associated with union employees, part of the United Auto Workers, is just a huge issue for General Motors. The government report indicates that in order to pay those retired autoworkers, gm has to produce an extra 900,000 cars every year. What is the message to the union now? Doesn’t it have to be those days are over?

HENDERSON: I think the message to all the constituents that play a part in our future we need to pull together. We need to sacrifice as a group, whether it's our people, our unions, our salaried employees, our dealers or suppliers, we need to pull together to do what's necessary to make General Motors viable going forward. We have been doing that. We’ve gotten enormous support from that up to this point. We need to do more.

GREGORY: Well, let's talk about how you can do more. How many union jobs are there in a typical factory for General Motors that have nothing to do with producing automobiles?

HENDERSON: Well, actually every job we have in the factory has something to do with producing an automobile. Whether it's obviously putting the actual car together or supplying materials to the line or maintaining the equipment that’s in the plant. So we have worked very hard and if you look at external surveys, for example, like a Harbor Report, we have closed the gap in terms of competiveness, in terms of the manpower. We have within our operation. We need to do more. Every person in the plant has something to do with putting together a car or truck.

GREGORY: But in some factories, you have a shop steward who's responsible for appointing--whether it's a civil rights chief or an education person, these are all union jobs that don’t have anything to do with producing the cars.

HENDERSON: Well, we have -- the union has key jobs, as you identified, but let's take an example. Let’s take health and safety-- we work together with the union health and safety in our plants. We have the safest plants in the United States, in fact, around the globe. And I think providing, for example, a safe work place is very much in the best interests of the company as well as the union.

GREGORY: You have told health care managers and executives over 65 they no longer get health care benefits. They have to revert at that point to Medicare. Is it time for union workers to accept that same limit?

HENDERSON: David, the provision of health care to our hourly employees will basically vest to the responsibility of a Viva trust, effective January 1st, 2010. The Viva Trust will be responsible for determining the level of benefits. I can't really forecast, if you will, what decisions they're going to make.

GREGORY: Do you think that's the kind of cut that the union should have to accept?

HENDERSON: Not for me to say, David. I think in the end, the trustees in the Viva are going to have to make those decisions.

GREGORY: Do you really expect this president, given how strongly supported he is by the unions, do you really expect him to take a step that would hurt the unions?

HENDERSON: I think President Obama -- let me put it in a positive -- basically said we want to work together to make sure this company is viable, successful and part of the automotive industry in the next 100 years. And basically, he asked all the parties to come back together and make sure we do exactly that. So I don't think it's about hurting some constituency or another. It’s about what do we have to do to win in the future.

About Nicole Belle

Nicole Belle's picture
Mom, Wife, Media Critic/Political Analyst, Blogger, Austen Fanatic, Unapologetic Liberal NicoleBelle@crooksandliars.com

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