With the House of Representatives pledging an aid package for the auto industry, the United Auto Workers (UWA) union fanned the flames a bit by refusing to grant any concessions in a bailout of the big 3 Detroit automakers. UAW president Ron Gettelfinger adamantly stated that the auto industry's woes could be laid at the feet of the stumbling U.S. economy overall:
The US United Auto Workers (UAW) union has ruled out concessions - at least for the time being - to help rescue the ailing Detroit-based car industry.
Ron Gettelfinger, the union president, said at the weekend that "the focus has to be on the economy as a whole as opposed to a UAW contract"...
..."We're here not because of what the auto industry has done", Mr Gettelfinger said during a rare press conference. "We're here because of what has happened to the economy." The union represents blue-collar workers at assembly plants, as well as several parts suppliers.
High labour costs are seen by many outside the UAW as part of the reason for the carmakers' distress. UAW members' generous pay and benefits have gained them a reputation as the aristocracy of the US labour movement. Much of GM's debt was taken on in the early part of the decade to finance its blue-collar pension plan.
President-elect Barack Obama reiterated his support for some kind of bailout for the auto industry in an interview tonight with 60 Minutes. Top Republicans have heaped scorn on a Detroit bailout as nothing more than "put[ting] off for six months or so the day of reckoning."