The UAW’s Three-Year Emergency Response

Last night, the Detroit Big Three bailout package crashed and burned for the best of reasons. To their credit, Senate Republicans refused to abide the United Auto Workers’ cavalier attitude toward further, drastic concessions. Reports The New York Times:

Late Thursday, the Senate did not take up an assistance measure passed by the House, after hours of negotiations between Senate Republicans with the auto companies and the U.A.W. The sticking point apparently was the union’s refusal to agree to lower wage and benefit rates as soon as next year.

Representatives for the union, which had already accepted a series of cuts in its current contract, sought instead to push any more concessions back to 2011, when the U.A.W.’s contract with Detroit auto companies expires.

And the UAW’s stated reason for wanting to take so long? The union put out a statement:

“Unfortunately, Senate Republicans insisted that this had to be accomplished by an arbitrary deadline. This arbitrary requirement was not imposed on any other stakeholder groups. Thus, the U.A.W. believed this was a blatant attempt to make workers shoulder the lion’s share of the costs of any restructuring plan,” the statement said.

Isn’t it inconvenient how an emergency can impose an “arbitrary deadline”? The UAW’s argument of “Make them do more!” cannot obscure the fact that the union itself still needs to make further concessions, no matter what.

If the Detroit auto makers’ situation were truly as dire as they and the union claim, they’d be renegotiating contracts now.