The folks on the line work for GM,and , not the UAW. Maybe it's time someone told them.
My friend Steve was in a rage.Â He read somewhere that aplant manager had banned non-Ford cars from the factory parking lot.
â€œThat insular attitude helped get Detroit in trouble in the first place,â€Â Steve said. He wanted me to write a column on it.
But I donâ€™t see the problem.Â No one was interned in a concentration camp. So what if people have to park across the street.
Those workers are part of a family, the Ford family.Â When the family is in trouble, everyone is expected to pitch in. That's what I was taught. So you pitch in by buying a Ford, not a Chevy, Dodge or. Better yet, that plant manager showed some fight.
Thatâ€™s what Ford and GM need now, some fighting spirit. That was what impressed me with the Ford executive â€œWay Forwardâ€ speeches. They said, â€œFord is going to fight.â€
So no, I don 't think banning non-Fords from the parking lot is dumb. It is not a made-for-TV event like UAW workers taking sledge hammers to Toyotas, like they did in the 1970s.
Ford is very much a family owned company. It's what critics don't understand about the commercials featuring Bill Ford. When he looks us in the eye and says, â€œWe're determined to retake the American roadway,â€ that's a real person, putting his family name on the line. People respect that.
The top brass atdo not understand this. They don't understand their workers actually are part of the GM family. They act like the union owns workers.
This is a tragic mistake. If the company wants givebacks, it must tell its family members directly why it needs to cut their allowance.
Of course, the union hates this idea. It doesn't want workers to think they are part of the GM family. It does not believe in working together for the common good. The union fought the original Saturn contract because it tried to end the confrontational approach to union/management relations.
The union doesn't want GM talking to workers. That would be â€œnegotiating.â€ Well, screw the union. Talk to the workers and retirees. Make them understand what the company needs.
I'm not anti-union.I covered former labor chiefs Walter Reuther, Leonard Woodcock and Doug Fraser.Â If they were running things today, they would understand times have changed and the ship is going down unless everyone starts pulling on the oars together.
In Europe, the unions are just as tough, but when there is trouble, they play ball. They juggle hours, wink at the contract and make allowances.Â They make deals without all the sturm und drang of the UAW. The Japanese unions are the greatest ball players of all time.
As far as those so-called UAW militants trying to make trouble, it's about time Solidarity House told them this isn't the 1930s. The aim is to save the ship, not sink her.
Jerry Flint is a columnist for, and a former senior editor of, Forbes Magazine