Leonard asks today whether anybody won in the showdown between GM and the
UAW. "There’s no triumph in this deal," he concludes. "Just resignation."
I’m slightly more optimistic, and I’d say that both sides won. After all, a
strike is economically destructive for both sides, which means that a speedy
resolution of any strike is always in both sides’ best interest. Often, anger
and resentment and mistrust between the two sides means that such a speedy resolution
is impossible. But when it does happen, that’s reason to stand up and applaud
the negotiators who prevented hundreds of millions of dollars being poured down
In terms of the substance of the deal, it’s far from clear exactly what job-security
guarantees the UAW wanted (and went on strike to receive), and what they ended
up getting. Again, that’s good: it means that even after the union declared
a national strike, its leadership – as well as the leadership of GM –
was mature and disciplined enough not to go blabbing to the media about what
exactly was going on and how unreasonable the other side was being. After 48
hours, a deal was reached, and again neither side felt the need to crow the
media about the concessions they managed to win.
Obviously, a negotiation with no strike is better than a negotiation which
does end up with a strike action, no matter how short. But it seems to me that
this is the best possible outcome for all concerned, given that the workers
did actually walk off the job a couple of days ago.