Looking for the root of the impending
car industry debacle? Look no further than the failure of the Big Three
and the United Auto Workers to challenge the Green attack on cheap
Since the 1980s, the
golden goose of the U.S. auto industry has been SUV and light truck
sales. Those vehicles were so popular and so profitable that the Big
Three could afford to meet UAW demands for high wages and generous
benefits. The golden goose even enabled the Big Three to afford the
infamous UAW Jobs Bank where thousands of laid-off auto workers were
kept on the payroll for years, costing the automakers billions of
But for decades, the Big Three and the
UAW overlooked the linchpin of all these “good times” -- the cheap
gasoline that fueled SUV sales. For some strange reason, neither the
companies nor the UAW had the foresight or courage to challenge the
Green chokehold on our gasoline supply.
the Greens blocked oil drilling offshore and on public lands, like the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Big Three and the UAW looked the
other way. When the Greens worked to block the expansion of gasoline
refineries through both direct opposition to plant expansion and
through stringent EPA regulation that made refinery expansion expensive
and unprofitable, the car industry snoozed. Only Ford CEO Wiliam Clay
Ford Jr. was active on the Green issue -- but not in a helpful way. He advocated higher gas taxes to incentivize the public away from buying SUVs.
It wasn’t until September 2008 that the CEO of
General Motors finally got around to calling for increased offshore oil
drilling -- almost 20 years after the offshore drilling moratorium
began. The UAW has yet to make the connection between cheap gas and its
But let’s not give GM too much
credit yet. In a full-page advertisement in the New York Times this
week, entitled “There’s a belief that GM is not doing enough,” GM
boasts that, “We have aggressively addressed our North American
manufacturing footprint, shifting our production from trucks and SUVs
to smaller cars and crossover vehicles.” What?
To continue reading this article, click here.