The car was a Christmas gift to his wife and, according to the report, was her choice. But that's just 'an excuse,' according to one UAW member, to get Gerken off the hot seat.
First of all, none of those union people who are so outraged can provide a definition of 'American made' when it comes to cars. I once had a conversation with a UAW leader that went something like this (note the ownership of the various brands was different back then):
ME: Would I be in trouble with the union if I bought a car made entirely at the Honda plant in Marysville? It's an Ohio-made car, so wouldn't that be good to support manufacturing in our state?
UAW leader: No - the plant is owned by Honda and the money goes back to them in Japan - it doesn't stay here in the states.
ME: Well, then. What if I bought a Volvo? They're made in the U.S. and Canada and the brand is owned by Ford - so the money would stay with an American company.
UAW leader: No - it's a foreign vehicle...Vovlo is German.
ME: But I can buy a Jeep made in Toledo by a German company who takes the money back to Germany - that's okay?
UAW leader: Yep - now you've got it.
This really happened! I was dumbfounded - there was no logic whatsoever to the thought process, except, perhaps, that some of the plants are union and some are not, but even that didn't explain the opposition to a Volvo made by UAW members.
The problem is with the thinking - or lack thereof. The UAW has never provided their definition of 'American made' - which makes it very easy for them to pick and choose what they want to support or criticize when it comes to car purchases.
Cars.com actually has an "American-Made Index":
"...rates vehicles built and bought in the U.S. Factors include sales, where the car's parts are made and whether the car is assembled in the U.S. Models that have been discontinued are disqualified, as are those with a domestic-parts content rating below 75 percent."
This seems like a fair way to judge whether or not a car is 'American.'
The #1 rank goes to Toyota Camry - what a surprise!
Only five of the top 10 vehicles are what most people would think of as 'American' because of the name of the company that makes them. According to Cars.com, that's a record low for the Detroit automakers.
Funny, but the Jeep products don't make the list.
In the news article, Bruce Baumhower, president of United Auto Workers Local 12, makes the point very well:
"My wife has always wanted a [Chrysler] PT Cruiser, which is made in Mexico, so there will never be a PT Cruiser in my family."
Rather than purchase a vehicle made by his employer (or the employer of his union members), Baumhower supported the purchase of Jeep products, even when the profits from the sale of those items was going to the German company, Daimler. But if you thought you were 'buying American' by purchasing the Chrysler PT Cruiser, you're wrong, even if it means you're sabotaging the sales of your employer.
How is anyone supposed to know what's 'acceptable' these days? In a global market where companies have plants all over the world, employ workers in markets where they hope to sell their cars, and where everyone is dependent upon trade with everyone else, how is a concerned buyer supposed to make a good decision?
Is it better to purchase a Japanese car made in Ohio by fellow Ohioans or to purchase a Detroit automaker vehicle made in Mexico by your employer? Which is 'better'????
Or is the decision supposed to hinge upon the unionization status of the workers? If so, then why would a unionized plan in Mexico making PT Cruisers be off limits?
What? You didn't know that Mexico had unions? Confederacion de Trabajadores Mexicanos, CTM, is Mexico's largest union and it represents the workers at the PT Cruiser facility in Toluca.
Maybe it's just UAW union plants that count.
This whole thing is just another way for unions to control their members and the politicians. Do you think Gerken will suffer any consequences for this purchase? The UAW did give him tens of thousands of dollars for his first campaign for commissioner. Will he get as much financial support for his next one? Or will the union decide that a Democrat is still better than any Republican opponent, even a Democrat with a Honda in the garage?
I couldn't let this story go by with commenting on the decision to even publish a story about what kind of car some politician's wife drives. Does anyone else find it 'selective' that The Blade thinks this is worthy of a 742-word story but they didn't even mention the Commissioners vote to impose Project Labor Agreements for Lucas County bidders?
PLAs will increase the costs of government, force unionization on private employers and their workers and, interestingly, were opposed by The Blade the last time they were tried in Lucas County. Yet the paper never even mentioned the issue, despite covering the meetings at which they were discussed on voted upon.
Yet the paper thinks this is worthy of a front-page story on their second section.
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