Originally Posted by quagmire
The UAW was still certainly a factor. Management largely, but you still can't ignore the UAW contribution...
I have an unusual background. I have held management positions both with and without unions. I have been, and am at the moment, a union member. I have been through two unionization drives, one on each side of the fence, and a decertification drive.
A strong, militant union is a symptom of an incompetent management. The vast majority of employees will support a management team that they perceive to be managing the company over the long term. Conversely, a management team that is perceived to be short sighted and opportunistic (which is to say that they took their MBA training to heart) will empower the thugs who tend to percolate to the top of the union hierarchy.
And I have to point out that the German workers at Mercedes, BMW, VW and Porsche are unionized. As are those at Southwest Airlines, the most unionized airline in the United States. You might want to read that last sentence twice.
A union problem in a company is a symptom of a far more serious management problem. Every time. A union in a well run company is nothing more than a mild annoyance; "herpes", as one VP of Ops described it to me.
As a thought experiment try to figure out why over the past 3 decades the unionized employees at Cadillac could not compete with the unionized employees at BMW. I don't think that it was the UAW keeping the engineering budget tight and making the cost focused design and manufacturing decisions.
I couldn't care less about the UAW, but letting them be used as a scapegoat hides the very real management problems at GM and, more importantly, in the United States as a whole.