I saw this tweet from Chris Hayes about the Democratic debate last night:

I want to focus on the last two sentences.  I have seen several pundits bring up the fact that the debate was in Detroit and none of the candidates brought up the GM Plant closure.

It is probably a good idea for them to not bring that up.

Where I live in north Alabama, we have a Toyota engine plant, and soon to be a Toyota-Mazda joint plant.  There is a Mercedez-Benz plant south of me in Tuscaloosa.

We also have a Polaris Industries plant here, which draws from the same pool of workers.

Then there is Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Blue Origin, Orbital Systems ATK, General Dynamic, and most of the rest of the aerospace sector here.

South Carolina is another huge manufacturing state, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have plants there.  So does Boeing.

I used to live in Indiana, which is where Toyota and Subaru both have plants.

Toyota assembles the Tundra in San Antonio, Texas.

So it makes me wonder, why is it that Toyota, Mazda, Subaru, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW can be profitable assembling in mostly southern, Right To Work states, hiring American workers and paying them good wages, while GM had to shut down in Detroit and offshore jobs?

I highly suspect three letters.  U.  A.  W.

A similar issue was the cause for Boeing assembly to expand to South Carolina.

Manufacturing is growing in the United States.  It’s just doing it in Right to Work states, often south of the Mason-Dixon.

That is a hard circle to square for Democrats.  The unions that support them are the ones driving the jobs away and the Red states are sucking them up.

It’s easier for the Democrats to ignore that and look the other way than tackle that, so they won’t talk about it.

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By J. Kb

23 thoughts on “Maybe they realize it’s a bad idea to bring this up”
  1. The UAW might be part of it, but I don’t think that is the sole reason. The UAW has been doing tiered wages for about 10 years, so the $40/hr assembly line worker is almost extinct. GM is a big, bloated behemoth, and their is a lot of overlap in the product lines. That and people are moving back to SUVs, and cars aren’t selling as well as they were 5 years ago. Ford got rid of the mercury brand and now does only Ford and Lincoln. GM needs to dumpster the Oldsmobile brand and consolidate under Chevy, GMC, and Cadillac.

    1. Olds has been dead since 2004, Buick largely remains alive to service foreign markets, namely China where it sells extremely well. Most plants that GM has shuttered were ones that were producing models that are simply no longer popular with consumers, ie sedans, everyone wants SUVs or CUVs now so they are going to give people what they want.

    2. They have been doing tiered wages, with the emphasis on “have been.” The focus of the current contract negotiations is the UAW feels the Detroit Three haven’t shared enough in their recovery and they want a fairly sizable wage boost.

    3. Oldsmobile has been gone since 2004, Fisher Body in 1984 and Pontiac in 2009. GM has consolidated under primarily GM and Chevy long ago.

  2. The UAW doesn’t have the clout it used to, but if you dig into every statute and regulation the state of Michigan ever enacted between 1960-1990 and apply just a tiny bit of “read between the lines” logic, you’ll see just how much control they once had. Every law had carve-outs, exemptions, or benefits that were put there to help the UAW. They were the fourth branch of government in my home state.

    But the parasite killed the host.

    1. That hasn’t helped with existing companies that already have contracts. Workers who came in the last 6 years might not have had to join the union, but the old union contracts for retirement and silos have to be honored.

      As Jeremy Clarkson said “GM isn’t a car maker, it’s a healthcare and pension company that makes cars.”

      The foreign brands don’t have that sitting on them. Until all the old workers and their widows die or GM can offload that obligation, they are going to be screwed by the union.

  3. Yeah, but narrative.
    However, as more people get better paying jobs, it’s going to be a tough sell to explain away the good economy. They are trying though. I’ve several friends who keep saying it’s the “Obama Economy”. I can’t tell if they really believe it, or are just that filled with hatred of President Trump that they cannot acknowledge the good economy. With the Dems concentrating on impeachment, they don’t have a lot of time to screw up the economy before next year’s election. So it looked like a shoe-in for Orange Man.

  4. GM has 23+ layers of management. The bailout in 2008/9 prevented a badly needed reorganization. They have a huge overhead issue that management refuses to rectify. So they close plants instead of firing10-12 layers of management. Until that happens, GM will continue downward spiral.

  5. Michigander here, we have had right to work law since 2013. Large numbers of people have left unions, many have not. I belong to the Michigan Nurse Association Union at an Ascension Health facility. I have maintained my union membership because it is the only thing between me and a punitive nurse manager. Any nurse out there understands what I am saying. Last year the union also stopped the facility under its local management from getting rid of what are called SWAT nurses, they have no patient assignments, they are our emergency response team along with a mid level provider and this rapid response team literally saves lives on a routine basis. The idea is to intervene when a patient is in trouble BEFORE they fully crash. At the same time they assisted in slowing down the same manager from putting a step down unit on a floor with only 4 night nurses that were advanced cardiac life support certified, and whose night nurses primary had less then a years worth of experience in cardiac surgery/nursing. This manager wanted to get the step down in place with no order sets, no policies either. Those things guide physicians and nurses as to the nurses scope of practice in that area. By slowing this manager’s own PERSONAL goals by polishing her PROFESSIONAL resume, I guarantee we saved patients from both morbidity and mortality. This manager, one of the most unprofessional nurse managers I have ever run across, was finally packed up and walked out. Other management was also shuttled out the door. Without the union standing up for a safe practice for nurses, translating into a safe environment for patients God only knows what could have happened to sick, vulnerable people in the quest of not just profiting but seriously the quest of three specific managers looking to burnish their own professional status. Unions aren’t always the bad guy.
    My father in law, now passed away, worked for Oldsmobile for 43 years. As did most of the dads of my friends, Oldsmobile and Fischer Body anyway. GM’s problems are not UAW driven. Much of their issues from years past had much to do with UAW rules, but the vast majority of that is as gone as Oldsmobile and Fischer Body, not to mention Pontiac. Those companies died because of poor management decisions.
    No one, in today’s world, is required to be part of a union in Michigan. At my hospital less than half of new, young nurses had joined, right up until management was willing to literally put nurses licenses and patient lives at risk. Then vast numbers opted to join in. Very few nurses have unions, so without state laws there are NO protections to nurses to stop an unscrupulous manager from pursuing policies that we all know put patients at risk and therefore our license also.
    Industry has changed markedly since the late 80s early 90s and at least in Michigan because of right to work, unions had to also. Perfect? No. Better, yes.


  6. You do realize Michigan is now a Right to Work state also? The question is where did that work go and why? There are a lot of factors that go into decisions like this.

    1. I never said it was the only reason. There are other factors. But the financial obligations that GM has to the Union, which were preserved during the bailout (which should never have happened) were retained.

      Those are still bleeding GM to death.

      I brought this up because Elizabeth Warren keeps bringing up Union jobs. It seems that Union jobs and manufacturing growth don’t go hand in hand anymore.

      1. Your right, they don’t. What is also right is this article is wrong, Michigan has been right to work for a number of years so the premise is wrong first of all, secondly unions are not always bad, anymore than they are always good. If Republicans want to win in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania they need to realize that. Simple union bashing is stupid and unproductive, and frankly it leaves thousands of people voting for a political party that mouths support for working people but whose leadership finds them yucky because they clearly aren’t bright enough to have gone to college. Instead pound on the “elitist” union officials and make it worthwhile. The Michigan Nurse Association was briefly associated with the National nurses Union, which is very leftist and radical, led primarily from California. The MNA disassociated from them after only a few years of having been associated. Not only did they break the rules of that Association their out there stands upset Michigan’s membership. By refusing to interact, by and large, with union members votes are left on the table. The Republican’s have to stop strategies like that, times have changed and Conservatives and libertarians need to see that and get into the mix and fight for it all.

    1. What is this “objective journalism” of which you speak? Since 1980, 1988 at the latest, with the exception of a few heretics the entire news media have been paid servants of the Democrat-Socialists.

      Subotai Bahadur

  7. I have a generally dim view of unions having seen them do fuck all for my dad after being a member for 20+ years and seeing how they protect and insulate incompetent and shit employees.

    The state employee union has bled my state dry for years (CT) and protects shit employees. Granted it’s not all the unions fault, the legislature has failed to properly fund all the promises they made.

    Pratt is called a country club for a reason. How much of their manufacturing costs due to union rules is passed onto the consumer and tax payer? TONS.

    You used to be able to be too drunk to drive but still legally allowed to go to work at electric boat because of the unions. Tell me how that’s not rediculous.

    I recognize unions perform vital functions like protect people in the situation like the nurse thing above but there is too much lack of oversight and not enough self policing so the unions never weed out their own bad apples. That is something that persists to this day even if the stranglehold most unions have had on employers or legislatures is long gone. In addition being in areas where you have no choice but to join a union is horse shit.

    And fun fact Colt is a UAW shop.

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