Former Speaker of the House and current Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich may be liberal enough to garner the support of a few unions in his campaign, but he’s no fan of one of the nation’s largest unions, notes Automotive News. At a campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa, Gingrich blasted the United Auto Workers union for “hindering U.S. manufacturing.”
UAW costs US manufacturing jobs, says Gingrich
At a Rotary Club breakfast meeting, Newt Gingrich responded to a question regarding the loss of manufacturing jobs to other nations like Mexico. In preparation for the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3, Gingrich pointed the finger at the automotive industry in general, and UAW in particular.
“We have a very vibrant auto industry in places like BMW, which now manufactures in the U.S. and exports worldwide,” he said. Then he named a series of automakers with U.S. vehicle assembly plants that were non-union: “Mercedes, Honda, Nissan. Where it’s a real problem is the UAW.”
One of the largest labor unions in the country, UAW represents hourly workers for Detroit’s Big Three – General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC – but has driven jobs outside America’s borders, according to Gingrich.
“It’s a work-rules problem; it’s not an hourly cost problem,” he told the Rotary Club. “You can’t have continuous improvement if you’re not allowed to constantly modify and improve.”
All soapbox suds and little sense
UAW liaison Michele Martin did not respond to automotive media emails seeking response to the criticism. Autoblog comments that Gingrich displays a lack of understanding of the real reasons that the United States is struggling to maintain a base of manufacturing jobs, particularly since the formation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Yet Gingrich is not alone in his overly simplistic view, the publication suggests.
“While we wouldn’t expect Gingrich to behave any differently towards his political enemies in the union, we will say that the loss of manufacturing jobs is a far more complicated subject than this or any other soundbite can explain. And for all the attention that the auto industry continues to receive from politicians hoping to score points with voters, we remain appalled at how little those on both sides of the aisle actually know about the business.”
Ron Paul calls Newt Gingrich ‘part of the problem’