“Chutzpah” is a great Yiddish term for nerve — as in having the nerve to ask something outrageous. The classic illustration of chutzpah is a man who murders his parents, then at trial throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.

But what word would you use to describe the person who not only murders his parents but consumes their body parts, then goes to an adoption agency in search of new ones? I suppose the best we can do is say he has “hyper-chutzpah.”

This is about the best description possible of Bob King, the new head of the United Auto Workers union. A recent Wall Street Journal piece recounts how King is trying to present the UAW as a helpful partner, deserving of adoption by the workers and management of foreign automakers with plants in the US (mainly located in the right-to-work states).

King’s pitch is pure hyper-chutzpah. He avers, “Our mindset is not adversarial. Our agenda is a positive one of shared responsibility and shared prosperity.” His pitch is part of the UAW’s attempt to unionize the foreign-owned plants, something it has consistently failed to do over the past three decades.

It is doubtful that many workers will fall for this transparently duplicitous pitch. Most workers understand that the UAW has a pernicious history. Yes, it got “great” concessions out of the domestic producers: not just outrageously high compensation packages but unsustainable pension and health plans. Also, the UAW extorted contracts that enabled work rules protecting lazy, drunken, or otherwise incompetent workers, as well as featherbedding — including obscene rules that required workers laid off from any plant that should happen to be closed down to be kept on at full pay, sitting around playing cards in holding tanks.

The UAW has nearly destroyed the domestic auto industry. Two of the three companies it drove to the wall had to be rescued at the cost of tens of billions in taxpayer dollars, a transfer from all of our pockets to the pockets of the UAW thieves. In so doing, it has hurt itself. Its membership, once as high as a million and a half, is now only about a third of that. And if its Fairy Godpresident, Obama, loses in 2012, the next administration will be far less willing to rip off the taxpayers and creditors and give it whatever it wants.

In the face of broad public (and worker) awareness of its destructive behavior in the past, the precipitous decline in its membership over the past few decades, and the rapid deflation of the power of its political ark (i.e., the Democratic Party), the UAW is offering some olive branches. It has backed off from the demand for card check legislation (which would eliminate secret ballots in unionization votes), and is offering to help get the long-delayed free-trade agreement with South Korea though Congress.

All this is like Obama’s recent assertions that he wants to work with business, perhaps lowering regulations and corporate taxes a bit. But in truth, it is all a bunch of BA — bland assurance. It is empty happy-talk by people who despise business and the free market economy in which it thrives. The UAW has permanently crippled our domestic auto industry, handing over a major area of manufacturing, in which we once led the world, to foreign companies. Worse, it has used workers' union dues to finance the election of an endless number of leftist Democratic politicians, who have been crucial in crippling our energy industry, taking over our health industry, and hobbling other industrial sectors as well.

We can only hope that workers and management at the healthy foreign-owned auto companies will give the UAW the cold shoulder it deserves. The nation needs to tell this greedy, soulless, statist, power-hungry, job-killing gang of kleptocrats what Cromwell told the Rump Parliament: “Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

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"But what word would you use to describe the person who not only murders his parents but consumes their body parts, then goes to an adoption agency in search of new ones? I suppose the best we can do is say he has “hyper-chutzpah.”"

Or cold-blooded predator.

Gary Jason

Harrison's attempt to mitigate the blame the UAW must take for the sorry state of the American auto industry is feeble at best, if not downright risible. In particular, he's got an odd notion of "free choice." The auto makers "agreed" to the deals only under the threat of strikes. Coerced choice is hardly free choice in any interesting sense.

And here the UAW was clever: it exploited the fact that while no automaker had a monopoly on the auto business, the UAW surely DID have a monopoly on the business of worker representation. It would negotiate with Ford, for example, threatening SELECTIVE strike action (i.e., strike Ford but not Ford's domestic competitors GM and Chrysler). So Ford knew that when the UAW would shut its plants down, the UAW would delberately keep workers on the job at its competitors' plants.

Moreover, since Michigan didn't have a right-to-work law (because of UAW domination of state politics, through coerced union dues), the UAW saw to it that every worker had to support the union.

Really, the UAW should be given the bulk of the blame, and other auto companies should shun the greedy bastards.

Jon Harrison

I agree that the UAW has contributed mightily to the ruination of the American auto industry. And I hope they don't spread their poison to the nonunion shops. But didn't management also negotiate and sign the absurd contracts? Without the stupidity and cowardice of management, the tragedy could not have occurred.

Ed Burley

Jon, I understand your point but the labor laws in this country, and especially here in the state of Michigan, where the bulk of the unionized American auto industry existed for decades, were such that the corporations had no choice but to "negotiate" with the UAW.

I, however, like you feel that the auto industry (sans Ford) is to blame as well. Ford was one of the first and only companies to make the laborers part-owners in the company through profit-sharing. They also refused to take the bailouts, choosing instead to change their corporate philosophy (with the cooperation of their labor force). Ford is making good cars, they are profitable, and they deserve a look-see by Americans.

I must say though, my big brother (he's an old man now) works for Nissan. He loves it. He loves Carlos Ghosn (pronounced Go-un), the President of Renault and half-time prez of Nissan.

As a bit of history (speaking of Ford), Ghosn was a young exec at Ford in Brazil a long time ago. Ford Brazil was losing money out the butt so they put Ghosn in charge as a scapegoat. Within months, he'd made Ford Brazil profitable, and was on his way as "Boy Wonder." He did the same thing at Nissan when Renault bought 50%. He took them from $22M in debt to profitable in like just over a year.

Off topic. Sorry...I just find it fascinating.

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