Sunday, April 19, 2009

McGuinty: Chrysler's Problems are the Union's Fault

Early Friday morning, a letter was published in which the Chrysler executive demanded, in public, that the union accede to its demands in order to save the company. As I explained, the real problem was that Chrysler had never put aside any money for the pensions it had promised its employees. Instead, it now includes the cost of those pensions as part of the current employees' labour cost.

The effect is to make the workers seem expensive relative to those at neighbouring plants when, in reality, they make about the same amount of money.

Now the Premier would like to chime in with this helpful comment:
“I'm not going to provide specific advice to the union, except to say we all have to find a way to come to the table and make some sacrifices."

Now once you've read Chrysler's original letter and the article linked above, don't you ever, ever try to tell me that the Globe and Mail is a left wing newspaper. Never.

We all have to make sacrifices, Mr. Premier? What sacrifices are the executives making? Are they giving up their life insurance? Have they already surrendered semi-private hospital coverage? Have they acknowledged the "reality of the time" by nixing their own extended health care coverage?

That the newspaper has not answered these questions is answer enough. If the executives had made such sacrifices, it would have been written. That the newspaper fails to point out that the executives are not so heroic tells me all I need to know about the Globe and Mail.

Yes, Mr. McGuinty, you corporate stooge, please refrain from giving the union advice. Why don't you go advise the executives on how to take a cut? Why don't you advise the executives on how to properly protect their workers' pensions?

Your comment, sir, that we "all" have to make sacrifices, is entirely disingenuous. "All" - to you - clearly means "the union". "All" clearly does not include the upper class people. What would happen if those people lost their gold-plated benefits? What horrors? We need top talent in the executive! We just have to overpay them! Don't you all understand!

If the executive of Chrysler want to keep their wonderful jobs, they first have to admit that they blew it. And by "it" I mean "the workers' pension fund". Then they have to volunteer to make the same sacrifices in terms of benefits that they ask of the workers. It won't mean as much, what with their salaries being so much higher, but it would look better. After that, they can admit that including the pension cost in the current labour cost is the height of hypocrisy

Then, with all of that admitted, perhaps the union and the executive can sit down and find a fair way to keep the plants open.

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