Workers alone cannot save the nation’s auto industry. All stakeholders have to participate, including management, board members, dealers, suppliers, secured and unsecured creditors, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger says.
Speaking before the Automotive News World Conference in Detroit today, Gettelfinger said he looks forward to working with the Obama administration to rebuild the domestic auto industry. Click here to read the full speech.
He knows, and we know, that a strong manufacturing base, including a strong domestic auto industry, are vital to the future of the U.S. economy.
Gettelfinger warned the delegates that any attempt to single out workers to bear the brunt of the changes needed within the auto industry will fail because no one group can solve the problem alone.
Our contracts with Chrysler, Ford and GM [General Motors] represent only 10 percent of the cost of assembling a vehicle. But most days, it seems like we get 110 percent of the attention.
He disputed the claims that U.S. union autoworkers are less productive and produce inferior cars, citing the latest Harbour Report, a widely known independent measure of productivity at auto plants, that the 10 most productive auto plants in North America are all union plants. He also pointed out that U.S.-made cars consistently win awards for customer satisfaction and are recommended by Consumer Reports magazine.
So, the domestic auto industry is not in trouble because of union members or union contracts, the UAW leader says:
The problem is not a lack of quality, or a failure to produce fuel-efficient vehicles. The real problem is the most severe economic recession in decades, and a global credit crisis that has dried up funding for businesses and consumers.
While plans to save the auto industry are important, Gettelfinger says, the federal government must also tackle the “external factors that are major part of the crisis facing the domestic auto industry.”
- Fix the broken health care system.
- Reform our trading system.
- Enact a bottom-up stimulus program that puts money in the hands of working people.
In the end, Gettelfinger says, it’s all about providing a better future for American families and the economy.
Putting money in the hands of working families will drive increased consumer spending power. It will drive increased auto sales. And it will drive a better and brighter future for our employers and for the millions of people who work in the U.S. auto industry.