The NYT, never an institution to quit when it’s behind, continues its crappy reporting on the auto crisis. In today’s installment, Micheline Maynard uncritically regurgitates GOP spin on why the auto bill failed last night, buying the GOP claim that it’s the UAW’s fault that Congress couldn’t give the auto companies a loan.
Opponents of a Congressional bailout for Detroit auto companies laid blame for its defeat Friday on the United Automobile workers union, which refused to agree to grant wage concessions in 2009 as a condition of the deal.
The entire article continues by totally misrepresenting the reason the UAW refused the GOP "deal."
Representatives for the union, which had already accepted a series of cuts in its current contract, sought instead to push any more concessions back to 2011, when the U.A.W.’s contract with Detroit auto companies expires.
Um, no. As the quotes included in the article make clear, the problem wasn’t starting concessions now. The problem was completing them by an arbitrary date within the next year.
In a statement Thursday night, the union said it was “prepared to agree that any restructuring plan should ensure that the wages and benefits of workers at the domestic automakers should be competitive with those paid by the foreign transplants. But we also recognized that this would take time to work out and implement” using programs like buyouts and early retirement offers to bring in new workers at lower rates.
“Unfortunately, Senate Republicans insisted that this had to be accomplished by an arbitrary deadline,” the statement said.
Mr. Corker said he proposed that wages and benefits of U.A.W. members be competitive with lower rates at American plants run by foreign rivals — Toyota, Honda, Nissan and B.M.W. — during 2009, and offered the union the opportunity to pick the date next year when the changes, which would be certified by the Labor Department, could be put in place.
See?!?! A deadline–and end point, not a beginning point. (And never mind that you could get mired in the question of what "competitive" means for that entire year.)
Maynard’s big problem, though, is in ignoring the underlying point: the UAW was the only stake-holder being asked to accept such a deadline.
Perhaps the NYT hasn’t figured this out yet (it certainly hasn’t shown in their reporting), but the UAW workers and retirees are NOT the only ones who have something to give to make GM and Chrysler more competitive. Their white collar workers, bond-holders, suppliers, and dealers would also have to make concessions.
But for some reason, the GOP wasn’t demanding such concessions be made by a certain date. In fact, in Corker’s description of concessions he had negotiated (looking for the link), he doesn’t even mention concessions from the dealers, probably because dealers tend to be fairly conservative, generous contributors in all 50 states.
So Maynard’s article would actually make as much sense if she had blamed the failure on her local car dealer for not making concessions to GM and Chrysler.
But I guess since no one powerful ever sent her a press release making that equally absurd claim, she didn’t credulously report that story.