Realistic Entitlement

Drew Winter's editorial, “UAW, Face Reality,” (see WAW — Nov. '05, p.5) hit the nail right on the head. I've been in the automotive business for 16 years, and this “trouble” with the UAW's wage and benefit scale has been a long time in the making.

The OEMs could not address this issue in past UAW negotiations because the union would have argued that managers and white-collar workers were making too much money. Blue-collar workers were once taken advantage of, but the union has since become too greedy, with every recent contract negotiation ending with either a raise in pay or a signing bonus.

Any UAW member who believes unskilled production workers are “entitled” to a $27.50 per-hour wage, near-zero cost health care and large pensions are living in a fantasyland. You are “entitled” to make a living, not a killing.
Ed Miller
Rochester Hills, MI

Messing With Something Good

In “Inner Strength” (see WAW — Nov. '05, p.57), Drew Winter says Volkswagen is “fighting desperately to win back 20-something fans who have moved on to other, mostly Japanese brands.” But if VW is truly sincere in their desire to win back customers, they should focus all their efforts on fixing their quality and reliability issues instead of changing what was working well.

The concise, upscale and modern styling of the 4th-generation vehicles successfully attracted a new wave of young, upwardly mobile customers. But after experiencing the VW quality issues first hand, many of those new customers were undoubtedly turned off.

I am not just guessing at this. I put the first 160,000 miles (257,488 km) on a '97 GTI VR6, and my wife put the first 80,000 miles on a '01 Jetta GLS. In the end, we sold both vehicles because we could no longer stomach the annoying unscheduled repairs (it was hard to be upwardly mobile when our cars were constantly in the shop).

With the introduction of the 5th-generation vehicles, it appears to me VW's target customer is looking for BMW-like performance, a “bland, seemingly Asian-inspired exterior” and reliability reminiscent of a Yugo. How big can that market really be?
Erik Oberg
Brighton, MI

Defending Inequality

It is time to defend both Jerry Flint and Ward's against the Tom Willetts (see WAW — Nov. '05, p.7) of the world who feel that AutoWorld is anti-American auto industry.

Having been in this field for more than 40 years, I think some people need to wake up to what really is going on: Corporations like GM, Ford and Chrysler move work off shore to save a buck regardless of what it does to their employees or customers, while the unions continue to demand more and more without any regard as to the rest of America or the company that employs them.

Meanwhile, the American auto industry ignored what the public really wanted in cars and allowed Japanese auto makers to come in and provide quality products that people can afford.

If Tom is interested in those Social Security dollars, he needs the government to start taxing all imported vehicles while demanding that the unions and auto makers join together to create contracts that allow both sides to continue doing business while providing decent paying jobs for the American worker.

I'm sorry, Tom, if the truth hurts. But it's time to wake up and look at the whole truth and not just one that fits your side of things.
NL Lontz
Portland, OR

Go Chop Your Wood

So Jac Nasser's glad he's not chopping wood anymore (see WAW — Oct. '05, p.9)? It's a shame it took three years to see that while we made cars, he chopped wood. It's kind of ironic that the “U.S. auto industry's current travails” were partially his own doing.
Joe Bialy
Grosse Ile, MI

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