Congressman Urges Obama to Remove UAW’s President

April 8, 2009 - 2:50 PM
Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) is calling on President Obama to be "even-handed" and ask United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger to step down just as he asked GM President Rick Wagoner to step down.

United Auto Workers President Ron Gettlefinger (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) – A Florida congressman is urging President Obama to be “even-handed” and ask United Auto Workers (UAW) President Ron Gettelfinger to relinquish his job – just as Obama forced the General Motors CEO to resign.
 
Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) said both auto industry bosses “share equal blame” for GM’s financial woes.
 
Late last month, Obama requested the resignation of GM CEO Rick Wagoner, saying it was an opportunity for a new beginning rather than “a condemnation.”
 
The president said his decision constituted “a new vision and new direction” for the battered auto maker.
 
But Obama’s decision spurred criticism among those who questioned why the UAW president didn’t stand alongside Wagoner in the unemployment line.
 
“For decades, U.S. automobile executives have made one bad choice after another and led their companies down the path toward ruin,” Mack said. “But at the same time, union bosses share equal blame for failing to act responsibly to achieve long-term stability and prosperity for their members, consumers and the auto industry as a whole,” Mack added.
 
Firing Gettlefinger would signal a new beginning for the union side of the American auto industry, said Mack, who critized the union boss for his inability to renovate the UAW -- and for repudiating a compromise that would have helped the Big Three [G.M., Ford Motors, Chrysler] though cost-effectiveness and sustaining jobs.
 
Mack called on President Obama to treat Gettelfinger and Wagoner as one and the same.
 
"If President Obama believes it was appropriate to fire Rick Wagoner because of his role in the demise of General Motors,” the congressman told CNSNews.com, “then he should also believe that it is equally appropriate to fire Ron Gettelfinger for his role too.”
 
Mark Mix, president of National Right to Work Committee, an anti-involuntary-union group, provided CNSNews.com with a statement that echoes the Florida congressman’s sentiment.
 
 “If Obama feels Rick Wagoner should be fired for the current state of GM, then surely Ron Gettelfinger should share his fate,” Mix underscored.
 
 “For years, Gettelfinger and other UAW bosses have put union featherbedding, inefficient work rules and expanding their forced union dues empire ahead of the interests of the workers they claim to ‘represent,’ ” Mix said.
 
He added: “Under Ron Gettelfinger's reign, Detroit has become the poster child for the devastation caused by forced unionism so it would only be fitting that he shares in the unemployment he has helped to cause.”
 
The UAW declined to comment.
 
“The UAW has no comment on stories about Ron Gettelfinger stepping down,” Christine Moroski, assistant director for UAW public relations department, told CNSNews.com.
 
The Florida congressman, meanwhile, questioned whether Obama has the power to fire Wagoner.
 
“I urge the President to stop and look both ways before he continues down this dangerous road,” advised Mack.
 
Mack told CNSNews.com that Washington had no business meddling in private sector affairs.
 
“We'd all be better served by keeping Washington out of the private sector and allowing business to operate according to market forces and conditions," the congressman told CNSNews.com.
 
But if the president does have the authority, and if someone has to pay the price, Mack blames both Wagoner and Gettelfinger equally for the “demise of the U.S. auto industry.”
 
“U.S. automobile executives and U.S. labor bosses sat together at the same table where unsustainable labor contracts were ultimately agreed to,” Mack said.
 
“Those decisions, along with other decisions by both sides, contributed heavily to the demise of the U.S. auto industry,” he added.