Long story short, the Canadian government, as a precondition of providing bailout funds to the major domestic auto manufacturers, is insisting they renegotiate their contracts with the union to slash labour costs. Canadian taxpayers, it seems, aren't all that willing to fork over billions of dollars to save companies too wimpy to take on the unions.
The government's saying no funds if Chrysler can't get the union to play ball. Chrysler's none-too-subtly threatening to pull all of its operations from Canada if they don't get what they want from the government. I say they're all morons.
To the unionistas: Your industry - or at least the non-competitive, domestic side of it - is dying. You'll all be out of work before long if you don't get off your high horses and agree to major concessions. The days of upper-middle-class standard of living on a barely-high-school education are over. Deal with it.Your turn: Should we be getting tough with unions, and the old-style companies that can't seem to break them? Will this recession finally kill organized labour? Should it?
To Chrysler: Ronald Reagan fired the air traffic controllers in 1981 when the union tried to play tough. You're telling me you can't find and train replacement auto workers from the legions of unemployed Canadians who would be eternally grateful to have a job? What is it about union labour anyway that makes companies like yours such scaredy-cats? Other companies just down the road from you - Toyota and Honda, namely - have managed to build motivated non-unionized workforces. Why can't you?
To the government: Call Chrysler's bluff. They want out? Let 'em. Considering how much it would cost to set up shop elsewhere, it's probably an idle bluff, anyway. Either way, it's high time you started focusing your efforts - and our money - on industries that have a future and companies that actually have a clue.
In related news: I've been invited to appear on TVO's The Agenda with Steve Paikin program this coming Tuesday, and I suspect this very issue is going to come up. The episode is entitled Whither Industrial Ontario, and we'll be exploring the issues in the wake of last week's provincial budget. The panel includes three MPPs, one from each party, so it should be a lively hour of television. The fun starts at 8 p.m. EDT.