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.
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