Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ford workers about to throw away public "goodwill"

Ford Motor Co. is currently in the process of trying to get their 41,000 UAW members to ratify "modifications" to the labor contract they agreed to in 2007. Ford and the UAW agreed to modifications to this contract once already this year, before the bankruptcy filings of Chrysler and GM, and now they are asking for additional "modifications" to keep Ford "cost-competitive" with their domestic competitors. While UAW President Ron Gettlefinger is strongly recommending that Ford UAW members approve this contract modification, some militant UAW officials are campaigning against it. As of this moment, several locals have rejected the proposal by large margins. I'm afraid that the "herd-mentality" is taking over.

When you take a close look at the extenuating circumstances that led to this point, it is understandable that Ford Motor Company has asked the union membership to agree to additional changes in the contract. No one could have predicted the bankruptcy of Chrysler and General Motors, let alone anticipated the conditions imposed by the court when they emerged from bankruptcy. I think it is completely understandable that the company now wants the UAW represented membership to approve additional changes in the contract to keep Ford Motor Co. "cost-competitive" with it's domestic rivals, and UAW leadership is correct to recommend a "Yes vote".

Ford is currently carrying billions of dollars of debt that Chrysler and GM do not have, due to their "quick-rinse" trip through bankruptcy earlier this year. While there are advantages and disadvantages to going through bankruptcy, the elimination of debt gives a company an undeniable cost advantage over its competitors. While Ford management understands this, along with the long term implications, Ford's UAW membership DOES NOT seem to understand this, and seems willing to let Ford return to the struggle of trying to compete with companies that enjoy a lower labor-cost advantage.

In addition to the labor-cost issues, there is the less talked about "public-perception" problem that may actually end up doing more damage to Ford in the long run. Ford was just beginning to establish a separate identity from Chrysler and GM and gain market share because of it.It wasn't just due to the fact that Ford did not take government money, Ford was also looked at as "different" than the other 2 UAW represented auto companies because we seemed to be able to understand the need for Ford to keep it's labor costs competitive with the competition.
But now, if this contract modification is defeated, much of that identity and goodwill may be lost.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Dangerous Radical in the White House

Conservatives have been warning the country about Barack Hussein Obama since he began his campaign for the Oval Office. And there were plenty of "Red Flags"; Not only was Obama rated the most "Liberal" of all 100 U.S. Senators by an independent organization,( http://www.nationaljournal.com/voteratings/ ), there were serious questions that needed to be asked about who influenced him and those he associated with.

It was not "just" his controversial, racist preacher of more than 20 yrs., the now infamous Reverend Jeremiah Wright. There was also the early influence of famed Chicago "Community Organizer" Saul Alinsky, who is credited with influencing such liberal icons as Cesar Chavez and more recently Jesse Jackson. There were the radical friends like Bill Ayers formerly of the Weather Underground, labeled a "Domestic-Terrorist group" by the FBI who had bombed buildings including the U.S. Capitol and Pentagon in the 1960's. Ayers and his wife, fellow Weather Underground terrorist Bernadine Dohrn held a "meet-and-greet at their home for Obama when he was running for the Illinois State Senate.

Critics of Obama like myself warned of his radical agenda. But warnings of his Socialist tendencies were dismissed by the mainstream media as "alarmist". The major media outlets downplayed the controversial past of Obama, including his family history, to help assure his election to the Oval Office.Why ? Without this cooperative complicity by the media, it is doubtful that the American public would have elected such an extreme liberal with a socialist agenda to the highest office in the land.

We must vote take our country back, starting at the local level, then in the Congressional elections next year, and finally in 2012 when we replace Socialist Barrck Hussein Obama as President. Yes we will !

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ford; Independent, American and determined to stay that way !

Ford's UAW members are currently voting on modifications to the contract that they ratified in 2007. Why is it necessary to "modify" a contract that has already been modified ? Because the other 2 domestic automakers, who are Ford's primary competitors, declared bankruptcy earlier this year. When in bankruptcy, they were able to shed billions of dollars in debt and reduce their future labor costs by freezing new hire wages.

In order for Ford to remain cost-competitive, we must agree to the labor cost reductions that Chrysler and General Motors were able to achieve when they went through bankruptcy. Oh sure, we could resist these competitive modifications, but we would be putting ourselves right back in the position we were in 5 years ago with Toyota and Honda.

The UAW leadership did not serve us well by not allowing modifications to our benefits package to keep us "cost-competitive" with the Japanese "transplants". The UAW challenged the Japanese to "build vehicles here if they wanted to sell them here". Well, they built a few assembly plants here and then beat us at our own game !

I think what we (the UAW) should have done was to look at how the transplants made themselves more cost effective than us, and "evolved" to remain competitive here in the North American market. Trade policy is a major factor in our relative inability to compete overseas, but here in our own market it was due to our refusal to recognize what made our labor costs higher than our competitors. The UAW leadership refused to change the "30 and out" lifetime pensions it had negotiated. 401k type retirement plans are MUCH more cost effective and would have allowed the domestic auto companies to significantly reduce their "legacy costs".

Fortunately at Ford it is not to late to recover, but we cannot allow this opportunity to slip past. We must ratify these relatively minor modifications to remain competitive in the long-term. Our future depends on it !

Thursday, October 22, 2009

There is finally hope for Detroit !

On November 3rd, Detroit will be able to finish putting together its new leadership team to lead the turnaround of the city. It began when Dave Bing and interim Mayor Kenneth Cockrel Jr. were running to finish the term of jailed former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. I said at the time that electing Dave Bing would be a "two-fer" for the city, it would not only install a fine man into the Mayors office, it would also return a fine public servant to City Council as the Council President, replacing the national disgrace, Monica Conyers.

Bing has since begun the difficult task of getting Detroit turned around while finishing disgraced former Mayor Kilpatrick's term, and is now running for a full term of his own. Cockrel is attempting to be re-elected to Council, hopefully as it's President. With Monica Conyers now in jail and several of other incumbent council members not finishing in the top 18 qualifiers in the primary, and some just choosing not to run for re-election, Detroiter's have a real chance to put the entire Kilpatrick/Conyers era behind them.

But, if they make some of the same mistakes that resulted in poor leadership on the council, like voting for a candidate based on "name recognition" rather than integrity and proven good judgement, then they could end up right back in the same situation. It appears that one such case is Council candidate Charles Pugh. He was the leading "vote getter" in the August Primary and has been leading most polls for Council since, slightly ahead of current Council President and former interim Mayor, Kenneth Cockrel Jr. I think that replacing veteran Councilman Cockrel as President with novice Pugh, based almost entirely on Pugh's "name-recognition" would be a huge mistake, especially in light of the revelation that Pugh has lost his home to forclosure.

Pugh has made several poor financial decisions leading up to his run for office, such as quitting both of his jobs without having prepared himself financially. He is now losing his home to forclosure due to his poor financial decisions. This is exactly the kind of irresponsible behavior that has gotten Detroit into the financial mess that it currently finds itself in and the city should not elect an irresponsible individual like Pugh to lead council and preside over it's budget ! I strongly urge the readers of this blog to support Kenneth Cockrel for Detroit City Council in any way possible in these last 10 days leading up to the election !

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Off Year" elections indicative of voter's mood.

This year may be an "off year" in politics, but there are still some important elections in 2 weeks. Locally, Sterling Hts. will have a chance to elect a conservative newcomer, David Magliulo, to the Mayor's office, if they remove 16 yr incumbent and former union boss, Dick Notte. And in Troy voters will have a chance to elect 3 strong conservatives to the city council; incumbent Wade Fleming, and newcomers Doug Tietz and Carmen Johnson, to keep city spending under control .

Nationally, there are 2 bellwether elections for Governor. In New Jersey, conservative Chris Christie is challenging liberal-Democrat incumbent Jon Corzine . And in Virginia, where there is no incumbent due to term limits, conservative Robert McDonnell is running against liberal Democrat R. Creigh Deeds. These races may indicate the mood of voters moving into the 2010 election cycle, and early signs indicate that voters are not happy with the direction Obama and Congress are taking the country.

Polls show that several prominant Democrats may be in trouble in next year's elections, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Reid trails Nevada State Republican Chairwoman Sue Lowden, 50% - 40%, and even trails GOP hopeful Danny Tarkanian by 7 pts., 50% - 43%. Not a good sign for Democrats heading into 2010 with President Obama pushing a liberal agenda. All-in-all, it looks like a rough year to be a Democrat, in Michigan and elsewhere !