The Chattanoogan , ‘Fix’ Instead Of ‘Fight’

The Chattanoogan – Chattanooga,TN,USA

 

Roy Exum: ‘Fix’ Instead Of ‘Fight’

by Roy Exum

posted May 24, 2009

 

Roy Exum

A headline in Saturday’s newspaper blared, "Corker Blamed for Peril at GM," and it proved, quite fully, that any moron can say something so outlandish it is comical and still be heard. For union officials to now blame Bob Corker for their nest of snakes is like a ditzy blonde with horrible sunburn blaming the sun instead of her own self.

So as I read in abject disbelief, allow me to tell you a quick story that will hopefully illustrate the newest audacity of the UAW leadership. Earlier this year the organized labor people, desperately clawing for any toehold in a raging economic downturn and eager to appease growing discontent among card-carrying followers, tried to push some sort of self-serving bill through the Tennessee legislature.

Oh, they lobbied and pressured, but then a guy named Fred Smith, who lives in Memphis and once came up with an idea – and then a company – you and I know best as "FedEx," sort of sauntered in among the lawmakers and showed them a contract his company had recently signed with the aeronautical giant Boeing.

The contract calls for Boeing to build $10 billion (with a "b") of huge airbuses that will carry FedEx packages across the world’s oceans every night. But in the contract there is a clause that says if the organized-labor climate suddenly changes in Tennessee – where FedEx hires thousands – that same contract will immediately become null and void, and the airplanes will be built instead by a company in France, one that wants the work very badly.

What do you think happened in the legislature? Do you think Fred Smith, who still nurtures his dream on a daily basis, is going to let FedEx fall prey to dummies? Understand, his company is battling the recession just as hard as the rest of us and he worries about the tens of thousands who work for him.

So as the embattled union hypocrites scramble to blame Bob Corker at a Spring Hill plant where obviously there are no mirrors, let’s not lose sight of the billions (with a "b") that Corker and the other senators have poured into the automotive industry in an easily-questionable attempt to save General Motors and Chrysler, and, yes, the UAW from themselves.

Do a majority of Americans blame the unions for much of the automakers’ problems? You doggone right they do. Will many of the union’s rank-and-file privately admit the UAW has had a savage case of greed-fed cancer for a long, long time? You mighty right they will.

So instead of pointing at Corker with one finger, the union types should notice there are four more fingers on the same hand pointing straight at them, and, instead of setting out a thinly-veiled smoke screen to cover their own transgressions, they should recognize our country is ripe for solutions, not more problems.

My goodness, if the UAW would harness its best minds, the brilliant people who know a lot more about making cars than any others in the whole world, and change its stance from "fight" to "fix," I am totally convinced the unions could become instrumental in providing the leadership to help save America’s manufacturing prowess.

Laugh all you want, but I believe if I could get about 25 or so of the very clear-headed guys whom I know work at Spring Hill, and get them in a room with folding chairs and cardboard tables for about three days, they could plot a course that would keep the plant open. Bob Corker, who we would invite to speak one afternoon, could become one of the union’s best allies. I’ll guarantee it.

Back during the early spring, when I was in Nashville and saw a somewhat raucous crowd demonstrating in front of Corker’s Nashville office, it made me want to throw up. I wrote about it at the time, and, yes, I heard from some bums with their atypical comments.

But I also heard from some union leaders who were so smart, so dead on with their ideals and beliefs, it was startling and very obvious to me that if we could catch their lightning in a bottle, if we could somehow channel their energy toward solutions rather than gloom, we’ve got one heck of a chance to make Spring Hill not an endangered species but a catalyst for the entire automotive industry.

The trick, of course, is to get those who blame Corker, who whine about General Motors’ greed, and who have gotten their power via the union’s "political machine," to take a vacation or something while the solid ones go to work at "fixing" instead of "fighting."

Look, take the best-of-the-best and let them listen to Corker. Bring in Fred Smith of FedEx. Heck, we’ll even invite Obama, but then, on the card tables and sitting in those folding chairs, let the sharpest ones come up with some ideas that just might work. They will do it and don’t you get it? This is what America is all about.

Don’t you think the union guys already know how to save General Motors millions? Aren’t you aware they have one experience after another to lend in a steady restructuring process that – yes sir – could assure thousands of wonderful Tennesseans jobs for years to come?

I may be guilty of ignorance and wearing rose-colored glasses, but, brother, I know in my heart of hearts that the UAW can change headlines from "blame" to "fame" if only, Lord have mercy, they set the primary goal to "fix" instead of "fight."

 
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