When Detroit’s Big Three auto companies first came to Washington last fall to ask for bailout funds, conservatives immediately insisted the companies’ woes were the fault of the United Auto Workers (UAW). Even though the Senate Republicans effectively blocked a fair bailout deal, they pointed the finger at the UAW, falsely claiming it was “willing to make no concessions — zero.”
Today, President Obama announced that the government will recommit to providing assistance to General Motors and Chrysler — but only if the companies presented restructured plans, including the firing of GM CEO Rick Wagoner. Fox News and Fox Business was apoplectic, insisting that the UAW had never been forced to make concessions (a false claim) and that the union’s leader, Ron Gettelfinger, should be fired instead:
— GRETCHEN CARLSON: Where’s the union in all of this? … Not one mention of the union possibly making concessions in this whole thing.
— BILL HEMMER: If you can fire the CEO, why can’t you fire the head of the union?
— STUART VARNEY: The union and General Motors have not agreed on how to take care of these legacy costs — that is, the health and pension benefits for retired UAW workers. That is what is breaking the bank at General Motors.
— SEAN HANNITY: I didn’t see any union reps get told that they had to get out in this endeavor, because Barack Obama wouldn’t anger his political base.
Watch a compilation:
It’s no surprise that Fox’s immediate instinct is to blame the UAW; the network has a history of animus toward organized labor. Just weeks ago, ThinkProgress tracked Fox’s misleading attacks on the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make unionization easier.
Unlike Fox News hosts, President Obama recognized that restoring the auto industry to health will require a shared sacrifice from everyone involved in the industry — including but certainly not limited to the union:
What we are asking is difficult. It will require hard choices by companies. It will require unions and workers who have already made painful concessions to make even more. It will require creditors to recognize that they cannot hold out for the prospect of endless government bailouts. […]
Let there be no doubt, it will take an unprecedented effort on all our parts — from the halls of Congress to the boardroom, from the union hall to the factory floor — to see the auto industry through these difficult times.
It’s clear that the Fox hosts’ anti-UAW rhetoric has nothing to do with the specifics of the auto industry’s woes and everything to do perusing their own favorite pastime: union busting.