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Breaking the UAW and Other Conventional Wisdoms


Over the last two months, I've heard roughly the same thing time and again from people in the auto industry and in Detroit. It's a variation of the general theme, "Chrysler, or more specifically it's owner Cerberus Capital, wants to break the UAW once and for all."

I chuckle at this notion. Why?

Do you really think Cerberus Capital bought Chrysler witha strategy of perhaps forcing the UAW into a long costly strike? Sure, the private equity firm wants Chrysler to have more competitive labor costs. Yes, it wants to put Chrysler in a position where it can grow and be sold or spunoff in the years to come for a healthy profit.

But Chrysler and Cerberus can achieve that without risking a long, nasty strike that ultimately may not break the UAW.

This conventional wisdom is similar to the one you hear in Detroit that goes like this: "Ron Gettlefinger wants a strike simply to show the UAW is tough."

This piece of wisdom discounts that Gettlefinger is a shrewd negotiator who is more likely to use a strike as a tool to get a better deal.

Funny how we're at a crossroads for the auto industry and people want to portray some things as more than they really are.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com


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