Sorry, I’ve never been a big fan of unions and at a time when the US auto industry is on the brink of collapsing, it would seem to me that now would not be the time to dig in your heals.  Yet the United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger came out this week and said that the current state of the auto industry is not because of union contracts but because of the slumping economy.  While that may be true, to say you are not part of the problem while not trying to be part of the solution could spell disaster for the industry and the UAW.  At least they will go down with the pride of knowing they were right.

It reminds me of the battle between Northwest Airlines and it’s mechanics union in 2005.  The union dug in their heals and many of their members lost their jobs, and their cars, and their houses, etc.  But fear not because as their members were losing their personal property and livelihood, their union leaders were still saying they were right.  This after they rejected many offers to get people back to work.

Tough spot to be in as a union leader, your members expect you to effectively negotiate on their behalf so if you give in to the companies offer because you think it will save jobs, you’re seen as a weak negotiator.  If you dig in your heals and the negotiations blow up and people end up going on strike and eventually go bankrupt from living on credit cards waiting for the corporation to cave, you are seen by many members as a failure for not knowing when to take the deal.

I do agree with Mr. Gettelfinger that the horrible state of the auto industry today is because of the slumping economy but I think it’s a big mistake for him not to try and be part of a solution.  Being right and out of work isn’t all it’s cracked up to be