MSNBC considers an interesting question: is card check the only way to save the UAW?
One advantage the Honda and Hyundai plants in Alabama have over the General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford plants in Michigan is lower labor costs. That’s because, in part, auto workers in Michigan are represented by the UAW and workers in Alabama aren’t.
This cost differential has been a theme of the debate this week in Congress over whether taxpayers should subsidize GM, Ford and Chrysler.
But what if the UAW could more easily organize workers at Honda and Hyundai? UAW-represented workers at Honda and Hyundai could then bargain for higher wages.
The Employee Free Choice Act, passed by the House of Representatives last year, but stymied in the Senate, aims to make unionization easier by allowing workers to join a union by signing a card rather than by going through a secret-ballot election. The bill is called “card check” for short…
A UAW ally, Rep. Tim Ryan, D- Ohio, said enactment of the Employee Free Choice Act “would level the playing field. Each facility would be competing on the same playing field.”
He noted, “We have a (GM) facility in Lordstown, Ohio, where I’m from. GM just moved a lot of their production to build the new ‘Cruze’ in that facility and added a thousand jobs three or four months ago, and they just took them away” due to the economic distress.
“It’s a union plant; the union worked with GM; they took some concessions, they made the deal work, and GM invested in the plant,” Ryan said…
But UAW ally Rep. Dale Kildee, D- Mich., who was represents Flint, Mich., the city where GM was born, said that joining a union is only the first step.
“After you get recognized, you still have to bargain,” he pointed out. “You can get recognized under the Employee Free Choice method or the election method. It’s what happens afterwards in the bargaining that really determines the differences (in wages).”
He added, “I think eventually the South is going to be organized. Under a Democratic House and Senate and president, the ability to organize could be enhanced. But you’d still have difficulty organizing in the South.”
The three U.S.-based automakers are on the verge of economic collapse, largely because the compensation demanded by their unionized workforces leave them unable to compete with more efficient automakers based elsewhere. So the solution suggested by Congressional Democrats is to hobble those automakers as well?
This ‘solution’ won’t work for long. Soon those companies will shut down their operations in the U.S., and service the market with imports constructed elsewhere. If Democrats get their way, all auto work will eventually be too expensive to conduct here in the U.S.
And then they’ll complain that multinationals are doing too much offshoring.