Who is Detroit to Blow Against the Wind?
Talks Aimed at Automakers' Survival Precarious Condition of Ford Draws Special Attention
By Sholnn Freeman Washington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, September 4, 2007; D01
The United Auto Workers union appears to be simultaneously crafting new labor contracts with each of the three Detroit automakers, a break from traditional tactics but one motivated by a desire to keep the financially strapped American companies alive.
Detroit automakers in the past have competed for the position of lead company in the contract talks, viewing it as an opportunity to fashion an agreement that put crosstown rivals on the defensive. With this year's contract talks heading into a final two-week stretch, sources close to the talks say the UAW is being careful to complete a deal that doesn't worsen the problems of any one company, especially Ford.
In Michigan, Ford is viewed as the most endangered of the Detroit automakers. Ford borrowed $23 billion last year, and it is now in the process of breaking up its European luxury division, taking bids for its Jaguar and Land Rover brands. It sold Aston Martin this year and is studying options for Volvo.
Thirty years too late, Detroit has only begun to see the error of their ways, even though Japan showed them the path time after time.
But no, they clung to big cars and muscle engines, pushed the SUV-pickup as a cash cow and had no way to get out of the union deals they struck in the good days. Then they went off to play golf in Bloomfield Hills.
Autoworkers don't deserve what the Executive Floor at Chrysler, Ford and GM did to them, but there's no possible bail-out. Business is unmercifully fair-minded. You can screw up once or twice and work your way out of it--but 30 years of bad decisions and reality avoidance is beyond even the unions to fix.
So long, Mo-Town.