‘Made in U.S.’ Cars & Trucks Made Union-Free

The rapid expansion of union-free automotive manufacturing employment in the U.S. over the past 35 years, and especially over the past quarter-century, has occurred overwhelmingly in states with Right to Work laws. Credit: Rogelio V. Solis-AP

Market Share of UAW Boss-Hobbled Manufacturers Keeps Shrinking

Just a couple of decades ago, at the turn of the millennium, it still made sense to refer to unionized car and truck manufacturers GM, DaimlerChrysler (since reestablished as Fiat Chrysler, or FCA) and Ford as the “Big Three” automakers.

In 2000, employees of these three companies assembled more than two-thirds of the cars and trucks sold in the U.S.

But today the erstwhile “Big Three” combined sell “fewer than half of all new models,” as Florida-based manufacturer Neal Asbury noted in a perceptive February 9 commentary for NewsMax.

Moreover, in the coming years, GM, FCA, and Ford are likely to “see their dominance in vehicle production entirely evaporate as [union-free] rivals such as Toyota and Mercedes-Benz boost their American workforces and add new factories,” according to a recent Wall Street Journal news analysis.

Illinois: ‘Poster Child’ of Big Labor-Dominated States’ Failure to Compete For Jobs

Citing U.S. WardsAuto.com data, the Journal’s Adrienne Roberts and John D. Stoll predicted companies that are wholly or overwhelmingly union-free in their U.S. facilities would produce 1.4 million American vehicles in the first quarter of 2018, equaling their unionized rivals “for the first time.”

Just a year ago, added Ms. Roberts and Mr. Stoll, entirely/predominantly union-free automakers trailed the United Auto Workers (UAW) union-impaired “Big Three” “by more than 100,000 vehicles or roughly 10%.”

National Right to Work Committee Vice President Matthew Leen commented:

“Not surprisingly, the rapid expansion of union-free automotive manufacturing in the U.S. over the past 35 years, and especially in the last quarter-century, has occurred overwhelmingly in states with Right to Work laws prohibiting the extraction of forced union dues and fees as a job condition.

“That fact is reflected in U.S. Commerce Department data showing that, in the 22 states that had Right to Work laws on the books throughout the decade from 2005 to 2015, real automotive manufacturing GDP during that period grew by 54.8%.

“Meanwhile, it fell by 3.1% in the 25 states that still lacked Right to Work protections as of 2015.”

The latest high-profile example of a job-creating automotive investment in a Right to Work state is Toyota and Mazda’s announcement in January that they will jointly build and operate a $1.6 billion plant in Alabama.

The announcement came in the wake of a November 2017 report in Automotive News, which indicated forced-unionism Illinois, after fighting hard to be the site of the Toyota/Mazda facility, had been taken out of the running largely because of the Prairie State’s lack of a Right to Work law.

In his NewsMax piece, Mr. Asbury called Illinois the “poster child” of Big Labor-dominated states’ failure to compete for good manufacturing jobs.

Union Officials Have Foisted Counter-Productive Work Rules On Employees, Businesses

Mr. Leen commented that counter-productive work rules imposed and perpetuated for decades by UAW bosses are obviously a key factor behind the downfall of unionized automotive employment in the U.S.

“Seemingly heedless of the long-term consequences,” he explained, “the UAW hierarchy negotiated contracts requiring rigid job classifications that wasted time and money, ultimately to the detriment of workers’ job security.

“Finally, after it became clear that the ‘Big Three’ automakers were being crushed by union-free domestic competition, located overwhelmingly in Right to Work states, UAW bigwigs allowed some reforms of work rules and grossly inefficient job-benefit systems. But it was evidently too little, too late.”

Mr. Leen emphasized that the forced-unionism states’ problem is not that employees are paid “too well”:

“Commerce data, adjusted for regional cost-of-living differences according to an index calculated by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, a state government agency, show that in 2016 the average annual compensation per Right to Work state manufacturing employee was $77,691.

“That’s more than $4,100 higher than the average for states that still lacked Right to Work protections in 2016.

“The sad fact is, by hamstringing worker productivity and raising the cost of goods and services they and their family need, monopolistic unionism ultimately lowers workers’ real, spendable incomes in addition to diminishing their job security and their personal freedom.

“It’s not good for anybody, except rapacious union officials.”

(Click here to download the April 2018 National Right To Work Newsletter)