Bob King

Rick Snyder Wants Michigan to be Indiana

In a press conference, Rick Snyder just urged the MI legislature to pass a right to work bill (after having said it was not appropriate for MI in the past).

There were a number of funny aspects about the press conference, particularly the way Snyder and House Speaker Jase Bolger and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville dodged repeated questions about whether Dick DeVos’ funding had some influence on this decision (they answered by pointing to all the conversations they had with UAW President Bob King, avoiding the funding question entirely). Given all that dodging, I think it safe to assume that Dick DeVos just bought the right to force down wages $1,500 for every worker in this state (as right to work legislation has been shown to do in other states).

But the funniest part of the press conference, IMO, was the way Snyder said he’s doing this because IN passed right to work last February. Over and over, he said we’re doing this because … Indiana! The governor of the beautiful, more diverse, and better educated MI now aspires for his state to be the less beautiful, more racist, and less well educated IN.

All that said, there’s nothing funny about this move generally. Republicans are adding an appropriation to the bill to make it impossible to overturn via referendum (all while preaching choice and freedom!). They mean to take that money out of MI workers’ pockets and they’re going to do it undemocratically to ensure the do so.

UAW: A Seat at the Table

There’s always a lot of tut-tutting when the White House releases the list of people who attend a state dinner. While a lot of that, for the dinner honoring Hu Jintao tonight, has to do with which members of Congress have blown off invites (John Boehner, Harry Reid, and Mitch McConnell, though McConnell’s wife Elaine Chao will attend with her father), I’m rather interested in who will attend from the auto industry.

Not Ford’s CEO Alan Mullaly, who has been working with manufacturers that export to China for years. Not Dan Akerson, who is CEO of that auto company that American taxpayers own that does a great deal of business in China (our investment in GM might be incredibly well-served to give GM this kind of access).

But Bob King, the head of the UAW.

Now, maybe I should be happy that UAW’s head gets a seat at the table with the leader of the country his union has lost so many jobs to.

But I can’t help but remember the transactional language King used to talk about his support for the Administration’s KORUS deal.

King countered that the deal was not perfect; there were many things he objected to about the agreement. However, King added that, “It was important to endorse in order to reward the administration for its good behavior of including labor in negotiations.”

[snip]

When I asked King why the UAW decided to endorse the treaty without consulting others unions he said, “We were on a tight deadline to endorse. If we wanted to be relevant, we needed to weigh in right away with an endorsement.”

Back then, it sure sounded like King was happy to sell out workers in exchange for 800 jobs and a seat at the table. But now I’m wondering whether King got a literal seat at the table.

A Tale of Two Bailout Paybacks

As promised over the weekend before I realized I had forgotten my Toobz, I wanted to compare the behavior of two bailout recipients, the UAW and the banksters.

A number of people have pointed to this intriguing interview about the Korea Trade deal with the UAW’s President Bob King. In addition to confirming my math showing that the most the UAW could reasonably expect to get out of his deal is 75,000 additional exports–or 800 extra jobs for the UAW–King also had this to say:

It was important to endorse in order to reward the administration for its good behavior of including labor in negotiations.

While not directly an admission that UAW endorsed this NAFTA-style trade deal in thanks for the US bailout of the auto industry, it does seem to support that overall sentiment. The UAW capitulated further when it endorsed the Obama-McConnell tax deal giving 2 years of relief to the very rich, 1 year to the medium-term unemployed, and nothing to the 99ers whose Unemployment Insurance has expired (many of whom used to work for the auto companies).

Compare that to the behavior of JP Morgan Chase Vice Chairman Jimmy Lee during negotiations under the Chrysler bailout. According to Steven Rattner, Lee,

demanded to know why, if the government thought banks important enough to give them tens of billions in TARP money, it wanted to squeeze them on [the Chrysler] deal.

Mind you, JPMC wasn’t getting squeezed. Timmeh Geithner had specifically instructed Rattner not to ask for any special favors because the government had also bailed out JPMC (Timmeh apparently didn’t mention the additional support JPMC got from the Fed).

Tim had instructed me not to be taken in [by Lee's complaints] but to maintain strict neutrality. I was not to demand anything of JPMorgan just because it had received an infusion of TARP money; nor was I to show it favor because of Bear Stearns or anything else.

And as Rattner calculates, Lee was asking for full value on their debt even while it was only worth about $.15 on the dollar.

In our phone calls, he also relentlessly reminded me that creditors deserve to be paid. “When you lend somebody $6.9 billion,” he would say, “you expect to get $6.9 billion back. And not a penny less.” I listened knowing that Jimmy’s position was patently ridiculous. Chrysler debt was trading at around 15 cents on the dollar (admittedly, infrequently), and according to Chrysler’s own analysis, the liquidation value of the company was perhaps as low as $1 billion. Clearly, Jimmy didn’t believe that the Obama administration would be willing to push back and let the banks take over Chrysler rather than cave in to their demands.

So unlike the UAW–which endorsed the kind of trade deal it has spent the last decade railing against–JP Morgan Chase responded to getting bailed out by asking for more special deals.

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