The inevitable ideological attacks against the UAW has begun. Just in time for the news that Toyota overtook General Motors in worldwide sales for the first time in history, the drumbeat has picked up in the pages of the business press: auto workers have to just buck it up and take the hit to save Chryslyer. Or so says Dennis Berman in The Wall Street Journal (subscribers only):
Forget about making better cars. Or even about the rise of private equity. The best way to understand the sale of Chrysler Group is as blood sport between parent DaimlerChrylser and its North American unions.
Is DaimlerChrysler willing to get fully ruthless with its employees, in spite of its well-hewn image as loveable corporate citizen? The answer will make for some gripping theater in the months ahead. That is because this deal really is about persuading the company's unions to roll back their own health and pension benefits.
Really, is that the deal? The truth is that that is not an economic statement but an ideological statement. And there is a difference. Ideology urges Berman to see the challenge through a particular prism where workers are the problem or, at least, their benefits are the problem dragging down the fortunes of Chrysler.
But, economics might actually lead one to a different conclusion. On health care, the economics would be solved overnight if Chrysler and the rest of the business community would park their moronic, blind ideology and support single-payer health care--which would, almost overnight, remove billions of dollars of costs from their bottom lines.
And as for pensions--many companies, like General Motors actually have large pension liabilities because of THEIR CEO PENSIONS, not rank-and-file workers' pensions, which are funded. One solution, then, is to first slash CEO pay and pensions first. That's economics...okay, with a bit of ideology mixed in.