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.”


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.

  1. tejanarusa says:

    Yeah, obviously this ain’t your grandfather’s UAW.

    But I am curious why the WH wouldn’t have invited Ford, or GM execs to the dinner, for the very reasons you mention. Is this another short-sighted faux pas on the WH’s part, or does it mean something?

    • BoxTurtle says:

      Geez, good question. Intentional slight might mean Obama intends to play hardball with the uninvited. The other would imply basic ignornance.

      Boxturtle (This being ObamaLLP, I’m gonna bet on ignorance)

    • emptywheel says:

      Yeah, the GM one is actually particularly curious. We frigging own that company, still trying to get a return, and–as the Admin’s salesmen pointed out repeatedly when they were selling stock, it’s position in GM is one of its strongest points. And doing business in China is all about influence.

      Dunno. Maybe Obama didn’t want to be accused of playing favorites. Maybe this was a way to have an auto rep, w/o favoring one or another manufacturer.

      • BoxTurtle says:

        Thinking about it, I think it’s about image. You see an auto exec sitting at that table, the first thought is that he wants to export more jobs. You see a UAW rep, you don’t think that. Unless you’ve paid close attention to the Korea trade deal.

        Boxturtle (Bet if we saw Hu’s full schedule, we’d see some face time with the auto execs)

  2. BoxTurtle says:

    Remember the days when the head of the UAW could get a MUCH better bribe than 800 jobs and a good dinner?

    Boxturtle (On the menu tonight: Chickenfeed)

  3. jdmckay0 says:

    OT: Just heard Amy Goodman on way home, say Wikileaks cable from some Israeli diplomat to some us (???) explictly stated purpose of the Gaza blockades was to keep Palestinian economy entirely disabled (my words from memory).

    Is this a new one, or has this been out there… anyone familiar w/this?

      • jdmckay0 says:

        Thanks, yes I heard it on DN.

        Don’t think I’ve been living in a cave… *VERY* surprised this one hasn’t made more hay. Seems to me an explicit statement which entirely delegitimizes Israeli reasoning for those things going back forever.


        • BoxTurtle says:

          Yeah, but once again it ain’t news. NGO’s have been saying that for years, not just the Arab world. Certainly, our government has been aware of it.

          The Isreali’s couldn’t care less if their actions against the Palistinian’s are seen as illegitmate as long as it doesn’t endanger the cash transfer to Israel from the US Taxpayers. And it doesn’t.

          De Facto US policy is that Israel can do as it pleases to Arabs everyone as long as it doesn’t hurt our oil companies.

          We’ll even let them kill our citizens, as long as said citizen is supporting “terrorists”. Anybody heard of any US pushback for citizens killed in Gaza or the flotillia? Me neither. Not even a sternly worded letter.

          I think the only reason Israel hasn’t completely exterminated them is that they are a convienent boogyman for the far right politicians.

          Boxturtle (Their politicians AND ours)

        • jdmckay0 says:

          Yeah, but once again it ain’t news.

          Agree it’s not news to anyone who’s been paying attention.

          To best of my knowledge, it’s news as explicit Israeli gov statement contradicting their MSM promulgated policy… burned into brains of (xxx) millions of Americans.

          Seems tangentially relevant to topic of this thread, now that I think about it, in that budgets federal & state are drying up… imposing “austerity measures” everywhere. This labor issue Marcy hi-lites just one of many, many dynamics whereby… even after this “financial crisis”, not only do crooksters run free and get re-fi’ed by taxpayers, but same middle class taxpayers are getting their wings clipped at every turn.

          What do we give Israel… $3b p/yr? For this… to help enforce/perpetuate biggest source of ME Muslim Israel/US strife?

          Aren’t are recently elected tea partiers all about “freedom”?

          With Soc Sec. cuts now seemingly on the table, seems to me a few of those on cutting end would be interested in more comprehensive accounting of what the hell that $3b is really buying us…

  4. canadianbeaver says:

    Why would Ford and GM be at the table? They’ve already made their deals with China. GM took their money and built a new plant in China and gave them the jobs they eliminated in North America. Ford? Haven’t they been trying aweful hard to migrate to Mexico? These two corporations are no longer interested in North American workers. The union was prob only there so Obomba can pretend he gives two sh*ts about American workers.

  5. atillathebun says:

    Being from Detroit, GM, Ford and all the rest began to crumble 30 years ago. A refusal to wake up…Its time to end the false pretense like we will somehow comeback to the old days of king george and empty drums people. The time is to embrace the belief that there are several ways to economic growth and freedom. We must not just write our enemy.s off.. let us embrace our enemy to write a common future.

    Energy independence is our future, bicycles, wind, solar, waves.. whatever it takes ……and lets take China with us !!

    • canadianbeaver says:

      Why is the Ford Focus in Europe way nicer, get twice the fuel economy, and cheaper, than a Ford Focus in North America? Nobody has ever explained that to me. Watched it on Top Gear. Nicer design, and almost 60MPG. Compare that to the junk they sell here.

      • PeasantParty says:

        Because the auto makers have not been forced to produce a car that gets 60 mpg. The Big Oil lobby means more than anything in Washington and the American Citizens mean nothing aside from a cash cow.

        • canadianbeaver says:

          But they are producing them. Just not for consumption in North America. I don’t understand this at all. They would sell here like crazy. The Ford Focus I saw on the BBC, looked nothing like the piece of crap by the same name here. Way nicer. More HP, and double the fuel economy. Europe forces them to have better fuel economy as well as better looking? If the bottom line is all they care about, wouldn’t you want to give your masses something they will buy?

  6. whattheincorporated says:

    WTF UAW!?

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

    Soooo you get a few liberal dogwhistles out of obama and you thank him by letting him **** your workers up the ***?

    Maybe if I say a few nice things to the UAW head he’ll give me all of the union dues…or some other crazy corrupt shit like that.

    If only I could think of something nice to say about him….”You don’t have your head as far up obama’s ass as we all think you do.”

    Is that enough for him to rip off his workers to reward my damning him with faint praise?

  7. joanneleon says:

    Off topic:

    The Urban Institute is pushing the meme that Social Security has to be “fixed.”

    Look at the info for a seminar being held tomorrow:

    The $5 Trillion Question: What Do the Budget Commissions’ Social Security Proposals Mean for Retirees and Taxpayers?

    * Eugene Steuerle, Institute Fellow, Urban Institute; co-author, Retooling Social Security for the 21st Century (moderator)

    Social Security faces a $5.4 trillion shortfall over the next 75 years. Three prominent study groups—the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force, and Committee on the Fiscal Future of the United States—have weighed in on how to secure Social Security, as have numerous legislators and advocacy groups.

    Panelists will discuss how the commissions’ major Social Security proposals might affect different kinds of taxpayers and beneficiaries. They will explain what Social Security’s long-run fiscal shortfall means for the larger federal budget challenges, and will address the political prospects for changing Social Security in coming years. A light breakfast will precede the event at 8:15 a.m.

    And at the bottom of the page, you find this:

    This forum is made possible by a generous grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.

    Two of the organizations they cite are the Catfood Commission, and the Bipartisan Policy Center, founded by Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell. The Bipartisan Policy Center’s “Debt Reduction Task Force” is led by Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin. Pete Domenici! Bill Frist is also part of the BPC on the health care team.

    I’m sure you know all about this.

    What strikes me is that the Urban Institute was founded under LBJ to evaluate how the Great Society social programs were working in urban areas. The majority of its funding comes from the federal govt. And now it seems it’s being used to sell the idea of cutting Social Security.

    • jdmckay0 says:

      This is coming from all directions now. Heard The Third Way described on NPR (discussing just this subject… SS) as “democratic” and “progressive” think tank.

      Seems our Hope prez is going that way now as well… to the point of kissing Tom Donahue’s ass.

      Looks, feels, smells like a tsunami of bull shit washing over our land… and media/politicians etc. telling public it smells like roses.

      It’s just another top 1% conduit for saturating mis-information.