How To Fix the Auto Industry: Federal Right to Work Laws

This is my second idea: Pass a federal right to work law. (Idea #1)

For anyone outside of the pretend world known as Detroit, this solution is a no-brainer. In order for Ford, GM, and Chrysler to move forward into the next 100 years of automaking they have to restructure how their labor is paid.

One important element, the heaviest of them all, is to dump the UAW as the only labor force. With unemployment hovering near 10% in most of the Detroit area counties there is no better time to renegotiate with the unions. (In other words, if the unions refuse to comply simply replace those workers with unemployed people at new, lower wages.) Simply put, if the federal government is going to loan automakers $34 billion to get out of this mess, they should also pass a federal law making every shop in America an equal opportunity employer. As I wrote in January 2008, I think allowing employees to decide whether or not they will join a union is fair. But, today in America, in many states that choice is not allowed.

More importantly, for the former Big 3 to survive they need to scale back wages to more reasonable levels across the board to compete on the open market.

Yes, I am arguing that the Big 3 compensate their employees like other US-based automakers. Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and many other “Japanese” automakers pay their employees well, but still roughly half what the UAW demand as “fair.” And when the Big 3 made money hand over fist, who cared what they paid people? But if you’re going to mortgage our childrens future on bailing out these failed companies… let’s spend the American tax payers dollars wisely. Their pay should be based on what these other automakers pay their employees. Or perhaps, since this is federal money, they should be compensated like government employees?

I’m not suggesting that we make unions illegal. I’m suggesting that it become illegal to force people to join them! Allow auto workers, state employees, teachers, and other unionized types of workers to chose for themselves if they want to be in a union or not. Isn’t that fair?

It’s time to have all employees work together for the good of the Big 3. Again, if you haven’t been exposed to the auto industry you have no idea of some of the silliness. There are two separate classes of employees at an auto manufacturer. There is union labor and there is management labor. They have different pay structures, different disciplinary structures, different hiring practices, and even different parking areas! It’s time this all ended! We need the plant manager and the woman on the line to be on the same team. We need the executive and the janitor to have the same health care options, benefits structure, and vacation times. We need to completely kill the entitlement society that the unions create. No more 80% pay layoffs. No more pools of employees who get paid 100% of their salary to play cards. No more union stewards making what a plant manager makes. On and on.

If Ford, GM, and Chrysler are going to take federal money it is time they started acting like 21st century companies. In other words, it is time the former Big 3 started acting like the companies who are kicking their butts.

Learn more about the National Right to Work movement.

Idea one: Change the car buying experience

Idea two: Open the manufactoring to non-union employees

Idea three: Coming soon…





3 responses to “How To Fix the Auto Industry: Federal Right to Work Laws”

  1. Shawn Michael Shoup Avatar

    I’m voting for Adam McLane the next election.

  2. jason Avatar

    Adam, you know this will never work. I was going to call it too radical for the auto industry. In reality, it’s just too logical. Unfortunately, the former 3 are stuck in the ‘radical’ category, which certainly isn’t the good kind of radical. You know you can only type those words and sleep at night because you live across the country now. If you still lived here, you’d get your windows bricked for such blasphemy.

    Honestly, I would take it a step further. I don’t think you lived here when the newspapers did away with the union completely. It was a HUGE uproar. The world was coming to an end. I think that the best thing that ever happened to the papers here was the day that they hired ‘scabs’ and kept printing newspapers. If they hadn’t, we wouldn’t have the Free Press or the Detroit News.

    I say throw the UAW out the driver’s window completely. One foul swoop all three companies should agree to hire independently. If you want to stay, fine. If not… 80,000 other people in Oakland and Macomb counties alone are willing to fight for your job.

    I believe the unions had their purpose in the 30’s, but I believe in free-enterprise. Let the auto industry operate themselves. They’re ‘big’ boys, right?

    Oh, and you’ve got my vote too. McLane in 2012!

  3. adam mclane Avatar

    jason- Maybe you just never heard my rants… but I pretty much preached this message for 5 years in Romeo. The UAW is horrible for Michigan, entraps workers, rewards mediocrity, and forces the former Big 3 to outsource work to Mexico, China, and other third world countries.

    If the UAW survives this we will know if President-elect Obama has been bought. It makes no logical sense to keep these relics around.

    You are right, one day… 2 generations ago… unions helped the worker.

    And I’m not afraid of unions. I’m afraid of what will happen in Detroit when the unions turn one of the strongest economies in the world into Biloxi Mississippi or rural Arkansas.

    A state with horrible infrastructure, Godfather politics, and an entitlement based workforce is never going to attract new businesses!

    The only thing that has shocked me about the death of theBig 3 is that the workers have not turned on the UAW.

    Please tell me it is coming…

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