Who Won in the GM Strike


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

the drain.

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.

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