Monday, March 14, 2005

UAW to USMC: Conform to our views or else

So, the United Auto Workers don't want to allow free parking on their sites to Marine Reservists who support President Bush, drive foreign cars, or have views that are the opposite of UAW dogma? That only Marines who voted for John Kerry and drive American cars can park at their halls? Nice going, guys. Way to support your countrymen. The Marines are handling this with class and looking for greener pastures with little fanfare. The UAW, however, is showing its desire to enforce conformity with their views. America isn't just about following unions. It's about holding your nose and making nice with people who disagree with you in order to reach a common goal. The UAW staffers can grouse about Marines who want to buy non-Big Three vehicles in private all they like, but this does make them look very petty. I'd also suggest that the UAW find ways to make American cars better and cheaper, and also understand that not all foreign-brand cars are built outside the US. What about the Toyotas that are built in Tennessee? Or the Mistubishis assembled in Bloomington, Illinois? Heck, how about the Mercedes-Benz vehicles built in Alabama? Those are jobs in the United States that are in the auto manufacturing field. Are you going to put folks out of work if they don't work for the Big Three, or are you going to support any American auto worker?

I'll put the whole price thing into perspective: in 1994 I purchased a 1995 Dodge Neon, where the only option I could afford was air conditioning. The price then was a little under $14,000. Flash forward 10 years, when I purchased a 2005 Hyundai Tucson for a little under $18,000. The new model of Neon that was similarly equipped with options that are standard on the Tucson (you know, A/C, cd player, antilock brakes, nice interior) cost about $16,000. So for the extra 2 grand I got a vehicle with better cargo space, better visibility, and a great series of warranties and roadside assistance. If a foreign-owned company can build me a better vehicle for not much more money, why shouldn't I buy it? Has the UAW tried to get the Big Three to sell cheaper cars? Have they tried making cars that don't nickel-and-dime you to death after the first two years? I understand the desire for collective bargaining. I also respect the fact that unions help act as a bulwark for some folks against management abuses. I understood that after about three months while working at a unionized grocery store. If anything, my time spent in the UFCW showed me a lot about how unions can help workers. This action by the UAW, however, combined with a life of more negative experiences with unions than positive experiences makes me wonder who these guys really support. If they're doing it just because they supported the wrong guy in the last presidential election, that's really petty.

Finally, the thought occurs to me that this bad press could make people shy away from American cars even more. After all, the UAW is perceived in this article as being unsupportive of the US Marine Corps. A company that doesn't support my troops doesn't get my money when they make overt actions like this one. I will certainly do what I can to minimize any money that goes to UAW support activities. So, buy American! Except for UAW-built products. Those guys would rather not support all our troops.

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