Labor costs the Detroit Three substantially more per vehicle than it does the Japanese. Health care is the biggest chunk. GM, for instance spends $1,635 per vehicle on health care for active and retired workers in the U.S. Toyota pays nothing for retired workers - it has very few - and only $215 for active ones . . . Contract issues like work rules, line relief and holiday pay amount to $630 per vehicle - costs that the Japanese don't have. And paying UAW members for not working when plants are shut costs another $350 per vehicle. -- Fortune magazine, January 26, 2007
Obama and Biden will strengthen the ability of workers to organize unions. He will fight for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. Obama and Biden will ensure that his labor appointees support workers' rights and will work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers. -- Official Obama website statement on labor [emphasis added].
Lost amidst the mutual finger-pointing over responsibility for the financial crisis is one incontrovertible fact. Under a President Obama, the unionization of America's economy could soar, thanks to the combined effect of the legislation he would sign into law and those labor-friendly appointees he would name to oversee union elections and other matters. And while the blame for the possible demise of GM and other American automakers rests partly with feckless, uninspired management, a good measure is rightly laid at the feet of American unions who pushed a variety of contract provisions that have left the domestic industry uncompetitive with foreign manufacturers.
Let's talk for a moment about that "Employee Free Choice Act" whose passage Obama promotes and that, with a compliant Congress, would almost surely be passed into law. As I wrote last month, its very name is "double-speak that would make the commissars at Orwell's Ministry of Truth blush." Far from promoting free choice, it would go a long way to destroying it. The law would end a worker's right to a secret ballot in unionization elections, to be replaced by a "card check" system in which the vote of each individual would be published.
Almost two years ago, that same Fortune article cited above questioned "the continued survival of the U.S. [auto] companies." Now Obama wants to let unions do for the rest of the economy what they did for GM. Will the MSM take note? What are the odds Bob Schieffer quizzes Obama on the "Employee Free Choice Act" at next Wednesday's debate?
PS: Guess who announced this week that they're launching a $3 million ad campaign on behalf of Obama?