July 27, 2011
Bob King speaks with forked tongue.
By Peter M. De Lorenzo
(Posted 7/26, 2:00 p.m.) Detroit. Maybe it was the snappy matching red jackets that did it for me, the ones that the UAW and Chrysler honchos were wearing yesterday at the launch of their bargaining talks for a new contract. Purposely done for the benefit of the media, it was an attempt at suggesting that everyone was on the same page and that everything was just fantastic and that “togetherness” was the operative watchword for these talks. Instead it rang so phony and was such a smarmy display of faux unity that it made me cringe.
Do you actually think that sporting matching red jackets is going to mask the fact that the UAW’s mentality has never been fundamentally altered one iota, despite the bankruptcies to two of what was quaintly referred to at one time as the “Big Three?” Hardly. After all this is an organization that had to be dragged – kicking and screaming, I might add – to reality by the near-death doomsday scenario presented to them by those bankruptcies, and it was only then that they sort of got it, that they realized at least for a fleeting moment that the American public was not going to tolerate their rhetoric and calculated obfuscation for one more minute, and that they had to straighten up and fly right.
But have they actually learned anything? Uh, I’m not buying it for a second. And you shouldn’t either. As a matter of fact let’s not forget that this union was given an ownership stake in GM and Chrysler and yet they still don’t get it.
And here was UAW President Bob King yesterday – aka the union’s Chief Shit Disturber – being bright and shiny and effusive with praise about this being a new day, a new era of cooperation, etc., etc. "It really is a different mind-set," he said, "It's a collective, how-do-we-succeed-together mind-set… We collectively feel we have a huge responsibility to the American public."
Wasn’t this the same guy who just three days ago chastised Alan Mulally for his compensation package, telling Bloomberg News that, “It’s outrageous, I think it’s excessive.” Yup, same guy. This was on top of previous interviews given when King termed Mulally’s comp as being "outrageous" and "morally wrong." (King also said that Ford wouldn’t be the UAW’s “target” in these labor talks but that statement was so outrageous and such unmitigated bullshit that any shred of credibility he had, which granted wasn’t much, went right out the window.)
And this is the same guy who has gone on record repeatedly insisting that, "The circumstances today in no way would justify further financial sacrifices from our membership."
So which UAW is King really talking about here? Is it the severely chastened, “aw shucks, we really need to be mindful of the Big Picture and do what’s right in order to keep these companies solvent and this industry healthy” UAW?
Or is it the, “We’ve sacrificed enough and now we want to get us some of those fat profits, and we don’t care how it’s done or what happens to the company, but we’re gonna get what’s coming to us, now. And we will get paid” UAW?
Taking all factors into account - including King’s predictably fiery and tedious Jekyll & Hyde rhetoric and the ingrained mindset that has come to define the UAW for the better part of 50+ years, a mindset that hasn’t really gone anywhere but that instead exists as a continuous disruptive force lurking just beneath the surface, one that isn’t lulled by matching jackets, solidarity handshakes and jovial back patting - I’m betting that the latter UAW is going to show up in these talks fairly soon.
Despite his jovial “We see the Big Picture, we really do!” bluster and the arm-in-arm photo-ops that seem to occur at the drop of a hat, make no mistake about Bob King, because he is a hardcore union lifer to the depths of his soul who has an agenda that goes something like this:
1. Hold the UAW Rank & File close so that they continue to believe that he’s The Man and that he will see to it that they all get paid.
2. Make sure the government and the media only see the “good” Bob, so that they can continue to mistakenly believe that he’s an enlightened, environmentally savvy visionary with only the greater good’s best interests at heart.
3. Go easy on GM and Chrysler-Fiat in these contract negotiations because after all, we’re (the UAW) stakeholders in this deal and the two companies can only be manipulated and maneuvered so much.
4. Finally, go all medieval on Ford’s ass so that the Rank & File can see that the old UAW is alive and well, and that the union’s glory days aren’t over by a long shot.
The net-net of this discussion?
Don’t buy a damn thing that Bob King says, because he speaks with forked tongue.
And while Chrysler and GM may benefit from the Shiny Happy kumbaya version of Bob King and the UAW – while bolstered by a “no strike” clause as a result of the bankruptcy agreements, no less – Ford is going to bear the brunt of the real true UAW. The relentlessly difficult, badgering, yester-tech UAW. The one that’s going to remind everyone of the UAW’s Dark Side and the belligerent entity that saw its heyday 40 years ago, overnight.
And it’s going to get ugly, folks. Really, really u-g-l-y.
So let the media mavens fall all over themselves trying to spread the UAW’s “It’s a New Day!” message to the masses, because I’m not buying it.
Not now and not ever.
And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.
See another live episode of "Autoline After Hours" with hosts John McElroy, from Autoline Detroit, and Peter De Lorenzo, The Autoextremist, and guests this Thursday evening, at 7:00PM EDT at www.autolinedetroit.tv.
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