Yesterday I published a letter to the heads of Ford (F), GM (GM), Chrysler and the United Auto Workers. In it, I suggested that a structured bankruptcy was the best option for all involved in the mess Detroit automaking has become. I went so far as to suggest that many Americans hate the thought of bailing out an industry that has been slow to change and resistant to renegotiate onerous union contracts.
I said what I believe to be true, that in Chapter 11 reorganization, U.S. automakers would garner a much-needed "buy American" sentiment. I believe that Americans would go out of their way to purchase their next vehicle from Ford, GM or Chrysler if the Big Three would file Chapter 11 reorganization instead of wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on a broken business model. I offered to buy a vehicle from each of the three that restructures rather than take our hard-earned taxpayer money.
The response has been over the top. I have been flooded with emails. A few were callous, saying that I am "stupid" or not informed, but over 90% were against any form of bailout money for the Big Three. Most interesting were the emails from within the walls of Detroit's auto industry. Several current and past autoworkers wrote in and all agreed with my assessment of the UAW on their ability to innovate and compete.
Below is a small sample of actual emails. They are passionate and tell a story if you listen to them. Here are a few:
- "Bravo, the majority of the country agrees with you."
- "GM employees about 97k workers in the U.S. ... they want $20B, that's $206k per worker to avoid bankruptcy ... absurd."
- "You don't get it. The bridge loan looks cheap compared to bankruptcy."
-- Roger (auto-parts dealer in Michigan)
- "I see firsthand how lazy many employees are. When we try to rebalance, we are fought tooth and nail by the union. Our union contract is 1,000 pages long and is archaic. This doesn't include all the people we have walking around from the union ... health reps, safety reps, committeeman, bargaining committeemen, chairperson, etc. and extra 'watch people.'"
-- D [his email address indicates he's at one of the Big Three]
- "Amen brotha."
- "You -- business maybe, human being no."
- "What about the UAW investing its billion-dollar war chest alongside our taxpayer money. That symbolic gesture would go a long way."
- "I agree 100%. Why can't government see what you and I see?"
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