Eric Mayne's Blog

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch. Or Free Parking

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Americans don't like being told what to do.

But for a raw glimpse of American rebelliousness, try PROHIBITING them from doing something. Especially when that something is a common courtesy afforded other Americans and the prohibition stems from making an "unpopular" personal choice.

UAW President Bob King has emphatically declared vehicles that are not assembled by his constituents should be banned from union property. And his rationale is solid, if not downright noble.

In a public letter explaining why a Kansas City Business Journal reporter was forced to park elsewhere when he drove his Toyota Camry to a UAW office in Missouri, King defends the policy.

"Foreign auto makers that allow workers to freely join unions in their home countries while denying that same right to American workers are denying the First-Amendment right of American workers to freely organize," King writes in the Business Journal.

In other words, the parking restriction is a protest. Ironically, such protest is guaranteed by the same Constitution that enabled the offending purchase. But I digress.

King is referring to the climate of fear allegedly nurtured in the nation's transplants.

The file cabinets at the National Labor Relations Board are full of complaints about threats leveled at aspiring UAW members by non-union auto makers. And every American, not just labor activists, should be outraged by this.

But will denying parking spots win the hearts and minds of freedom-lovers?

You know the answer. And, I suspect, so does Bob King.

At the recent Management Briefing Seminars, the annual industry confab in Traverse City, MI, the new UAW president extended an olive branch to the transplants. Management at the nation's overseas-based auto makers will be presented with a truce-like document, to be co-signed by the UAW, that promises an end to intimidation by both sides.

So why, then, are parking lots still a battlefield? Banishing some Americans while embracing others promises only resentment.

While sales are inching upward, no industry stakeholder can afford to alienate potential customers. And these days, as perceived quality finally is catching up with reality, everyone is a potential customer.

See a Saab parked at Solidarity House? Put a pamphlet on the windshield.

My ultimate vision of America is one where UAW members are ambassadors, not bullies. They are more passionate about the vehicles they build than the most desperate dealer.

Mobilize them, Bob. Don't incite them to tell me what I can and cannot do.

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