My column in Nov. '99 was headlined “Occupied” and it was darn good, ending with “Change your ways. End the occupation. Make Chrysler a true partner, or free us.” And that was written well before Jim Holden got the axe.
You know what happened. The iron boot came down harder. Okay, no more Mr. Nice Guy.
This column is a message to allemployees:
Your company was conquered with lies and deception. You can see what is happening. You are going down. But if you resist, you can save your company and your jobs.
Your aim is:
Bring about the removal of Chief Executive Juergen Schrempp, who brought dishonor to the name of, who has lost the confidence of the German investor (look at the stock price) and whose strategy is leading to destruction.
Create a true “merger of equals.”
Or force the sale of Chrysler back to Americans.
Here's how to resist
No sabotage. That only hurts Americans. Your aim is to raise the issue of honor with the German Board of Supervisors.
Information: Send copies of this column to all your associates at Chrysler. Let them know they can resist.
Gather them. Let every Chrysler employee, in the office and the factory, sign petitions calling for what I've mentioned above. Let the first name be one we all know. How about Tom Gale?
Leaflets are good, leaflets calling for the removal of Juergen because of the dishonor he's brought to. How do you distribute them inside and outside of the Auburn Hills headquarters and the plants? Come on. I don't have to tell Detroiters how to distribute leaflets.
You want stories in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, not The Detroit News. Look, the News and Free Press are great. I worked at the News and my late father-in-law won a Pulitzer Prize at the Free Press (ironically, for an editorial about a Chrysler strike). But they aren't read in Germany and the Journal and the Times are.
Here's how to get the publicity. Let's say you are going to spread some leaflets around headquarters. You call one, just one, the Times or the Journal. Offer an exclusive story. They love exclusives. If one doesn't bite, try the other. Bring the reporter in as you write it, as you make the copies, and as you distribute it. Believe me, you'll be on Page 1. Then with the next story, offer the other one an exclusive.
How do I know this will work? Because I worked for the Journal and the Times in Detroit.
Get in touch with the German publications based in New York, like Der Spiegel. Will they sell you out? Never. The writers are all lefties who will love to stick it to the barons.
You know how to picket. And call the national TV outlets. They love visuals.
Lapel pins, JMG in gold (for Juergen Must Go). Sell them to raise money. Wear berets to work, like all those French resistance guys in the old movies.
You may have to work for them, but you don't have to invite them into your homes, or go to their parties. This should be a cause among the Bloomfield Hills/Grosse Pointe crowd like “Don't Eat Lettuce.” But the boycott is on Juergen and his co-conspirators, not Mercedes cars (see below). Of course, you have to have a committee: The Committee to Save DaimlerChrysler (SDC).
Stockholders suit. Never mind Kirk Kerkorian's suit. All he wants is money for himself. You want to pressure the German Board to do the right thing. So get a suit filed calling for a dissolution of the merger based on fraud and conspiracy (see below). Try to find a Federal Judge whose Dad worked at Dodge Main.
This is a start. You'll think of more ideas as you go along. Again, nothing that will make the Germans angry, like smashing a Mercedes with sledge hammers. You want to shame them. You want them on your side. So, boycott the villains, not the cars (which the rich folks wouldn't give up, anyway. It's easy to give up lettuce, but not that SL).
And keep it up. You must have staying power. Remember, your jobs and lives are at stake.
Now we have the question of Dieter Zetsche who Juergen sent over to run you.
What did he know, and when did he know it?
Juergen probably told his fellow executives not to worry about any “merger of equals,” that he was tricking the dumkaupf Americans. That makes it a conspiracy (this you learn from watching Law & Order) so we can spread this guilt around.
Once you start your resistance, you'll find allies. The good people leadingCorp. and Motor Co. don't like lies and deception. And when you push the idea of saving German honor, you will find allies in Germany, too.
You are fighting to save Chrysler.
Never Give Up
And Don't Let Them Take You Alive.
FYI, I'm not anti-German. I spent two years protecting the Germans from The Evil Empire (the Soviets) and was married by the Burgermeister (it was 7 a.m., and that's what they said he was) of Frankfurt.
— Jerry Flint is a columnist for, and former senior editor of, Forbes magazine.