What would you do?
We saw this little electric car (the Volt) at the Detroit auto show in January, and of course it was my favorite. I dragged Don out into the frigid cold to downtown Detroit because I wanted to see cars with alternative fuel sources, I thought it would be a big year for cars like this in the news. (And I had the East Lansing Daily Photo blog to keep going.)
Well this little guy is one of the reasons the GM United Auto Workers union has gone on national strike for the first time in 37 years: They want GM to build this car in the US, not in Asia. They want job security: 73,000 workers nationally, over 5,000 locally here around Lansing.
So many issues! I've been supporting foreign cars for years because the quality is better. (However I currently drive a Chevy Aveo.) But I don't want 73,000 American workers out of work. I have to see "Who Killed the Electric Car?" and get angrier at the auto company executives for killing the technology of this alternative car energy in the 1970s.
Yes, auto execs at GM asked that their salary be halved earlier this year to help the struggling auto company (or at least to help how they look). Only $2.5 million for the CEO Rick Wagoner, not $5 million. And no bonuses this year. But their compensation packages still doubled! (Stocks, etc.)
Even auto workers are finally disgusted with auto execs and the choices they've made in the past few decades. Detroit could have been, should have been, the leader in alternative fuel-burning car development! Detroit could have been Paris by now. This could have been the Riviera. But no, they let Japan take the lead in developing hybrid cars. Our execs were greedy for the high price tags and profits of SUVs. Don't misunderstand me, I want all countries, all economies to do well. I'm not waving the American flag for dominance, believe me. I just want this powerful country of ours to take a lead IN THE RIGHT THINGS.
This also raises the question of unions. We recently watched the folksinger Woody Guthrie's story in the film "Bound for Glory" which is also about the start of unions in the US. Back in the 1930s, unions were an important way for poor workers to obtain and maintain their rights. Wiki has a history of the United Auto Workers. And here is a UAW timeline.
But what do unions do for many of us now? I don't belong to a union, but Don does. But because his is for public school employees, it's against the law to strike. So what power do they have for the $800 per annum they pay per person? And auto plant workers make $26 an hour now. How times have changed.
So many questions, so little time.
Anyway, if you were the CEO of GM, what would you do?