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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 10, 2007 / 20 Teves, 5767

A UAW card no longer means that life cannot be hard

By George Will


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Married life ain't hard when you got a union card, A union man has a happy life when he's got a union wife. — ``The Union Maid'' — Woody Guthrie (1940)


DETROIT — Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end. Unions were on the march, and the marching songs were grand, especially here, home of the United Auto Workers. Recently, the UAW has been retreating, crippled by economic forces beyond its control — and by its past successes in winning benefits that companies can no longer afford as they compete with foreign manufacturers in America who do not have unionized workers and the legacy costs of union retirees.


Soon a quietly angry UAW man, whom most Americans have never heard of, will be heard from. Ron Gettelfinger takes strenuous exception to the idea that he has America's most unenviable job. He enjoys getting to the office early — before the Solidarity House cafeteria opens at 6:30 a.m. But as head of the UAW he had a wrenching 2006 and this year he must negotiate new contracts with General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. He will not be negotiating from strength. But, then, neither will they.


A generally soft-spoken man, he has been a union man since 1964, when he signed on as a chassis line repairman at a Ford plant in Kentucky, making pickup trucks. There he participated in resolving productivity and quality issues that had Ford contemplating closure of the plant.


Today Ford has announced closings of 16 plants. It has hocked the rest, using almost all its assets — including even the blue oval logo — as collateral for $23 billion it has borrowed for a two-year dash to profitability. Much of that cash will pay for the buyouts — worth up to $140,000 apiece — that have been accepted by almost half of the company's UAW workers, who at the beginning of last year numbered 83,000.


The UAW says its concessions amount to $3 billion of Ford's $5 billion annual reductions in fixed costs. There also have been roughly 34,000 buyouts at GM, where UAW concessions ($3 billion in health care, $3 billion in work force attrition) account for two-thirds of the company's $9 billion annual reduction of fixed costs. The UAW notes that although Canadian autoworkers are unionized, GM spends $1,000 per car less on health care on cars it manufactures in Ontario because there government pays those costs.


But now Gettelfinger insists, ``You can't cut your way to profitability," and he says the UAW is ready to dig in its heels. He says the UAW adds value to members' lives by limiting subtractions — damages done by attrition and bankruptcy. In September the UAW stopped negotiating concessions with Chrysler because it considered the company's problems less than severe, but is now re-examining the company's condition.


Gettelfinger resents workers paying the price of management blunders, one of which, he says, was Ford's mismanagement of the Taurus model, the last of which rolled off the line in October. He says Taurus would have had ``years of life left'' if Ford had constantly refined it, as Toyota has done with the Camry.


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``Obscene" is Gettelfinger's description of executives' pay and retirement protections at Delphi, the giant auto parts manufacturer that entered bankruptcy protection in 2005. He believes bankruptcy has become a management tool by which companies shred labor contracts, and he warns that if Delphi tries to void its contract with the UAW, that ``will be the biggest mistake they ever made."


But more than 14,000 of Delphi's 24,000 UAW employees have accepted early retirement or buyout offers. Furthermore, the UAW has swallowed hard and accepted a two-tier wage system — lower wages ($14 an hour rather than $27) for new hires.


Ford, GM and Chrysler might seek such wage systems in the coming contract negotiations. The UAW allowed Chrysler to hire temporary workers — $18 an hour; they can be fired at any time; they are not eligible for the jobs bank — at its Belvidere, Ill., plant.


The jobs bank was negotiated in 1984 on the assumption that, in the cyclical automobile business, laid-off workers would eventually be rehired. Workers in the job bank receive a small portion of their pay plus unemployment benefits for 48 weeks, but then are restored to full pay while unemployed. Gettelfinger vows to fight to retain this.


Recently Gettelfinger suggested that the UAW, which soon will be more than two-thirds smaller than it was when it had 1.5 million members 20 years ago, might consider merging with another union. A UAW card no longer means that life cannot be hard.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

George Will's latest book is "With a Happy Eye but: America and the World, 1997-2002" to purchase a copy, click here. Comment on this column by clicking here.

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