UAW Local 599

Now is time for everyone to work together


Now is time for everyone to work together
By Bob King

Michigan is at a historic crossroads. The path we choose will define the economic future for generations of Michiganians.

One path involves working together — government, business and labor — to craft pragmatic, creative and moderate solutions to foster economic prosperity.

The other path — promoted by some right-wing ideologues in the Republican Party — is a path of division and polarization.

While the right wing pretends to be "pro-business," in fact these ideological proposals are harmful to business and will not lead to economic growth and prosperity for all.

The revival of the U.S. auto industry is a testament to the effectiveness of choosing the moderate and pragmatic path. The choice confronting President Obama was whether to step in to prevent the demise of the auto industry or to accept the collapse of an industry critical to millions of workers, and to our national security.

Some Republican politicians attacked him, and some still insist that we should have abandoned General Motors and Chrysler.

Thanks to President Obama's courageous decision, and thanks to the willingness of business and labor to embrace change and work together, and thanks to the substantial sacrifices of auto workers, suppliers, dealers and shareholders, a turnaround is taking place.

For the first time in nearly seven years, all of Detroit's car companies are making profits. Chrysler has paid back its loan well ahead of schedule. Companies are rehiring thousands of laid-off workers. Michigan unemployment is down.

According to the Center for Automotive Research, without the auto industry rescue, there would have been a loss of 3 million jobs within three years. Only one-quarter of those jobs would have been lost at auto manufacturers. This would have translated to a loss to the U.S. treasury of $156 billion.

Small and large businesses received a lifeline throughout this rescue.

President Obama put his faith in American businesses and workers, and we are committed to honoring this faith by contributing in every way we can to the success of the American auto industry.

A skeptical public is looking to labor and business to see whether we have learned any lessons; whether we choose to return to business as usual or instead are committed to a new way of cooperating to succeed in the globally competitive world.

The UAW has embraced fundamental change, an approach we call the "UAW of the 21st century." Our mission is to add value and create conditions that enable employers to succeed. We are committed to flexibility, innovation and joint problem solving.

The true path to job security is by producing the best quality products at the best value for our customers. We are committed to working with employers in a spirit of mutual respect, trust and common goals.

We are inviting business and government leaders to work with unions in a social compact to achieve the common good.

Let us all work together to find creative and pragmatic solutions to our economic challenges. Let us reject the divisive and extreme ideology of the right wing that targets unions and minimizes critical public investment in education and infrastructure.

Working together is the true path for economic growth and shared prosperity.

Bob King is president of the UAW. The article originally appeared in June 8, 2011, edition of the Detroit News.

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