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United Auto Workers

Larry Ribstein has some pertinent comments about the rolling reinvention of debtor-creditor law going on as the Administration redistributes bankruptcy priorities away from traditional creditors and toward the UAW. And Mickey Kaus credits me with perhaps more prescience than I actually possess about the union role (not that I always venture the cynical prediction…)(cross-posted from Point of Law). More: Michael Barone, Ken Silber.

P.S. Joe Weisenthal is reminded of an episode of lawlessness that I wrote about a few months back: “Before The Chrysler Mess, There Was Republic Windows”. Incidentally, those who wonder what sort of signals the incoming Administration was sending last December about the illegal Chicago plant occupation may be interested to learn that late last month Vice President Joe Biden and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin paid a visit to the reopened Republic Windows plant, a visit which from a news account sounds as if it might fairly be described as “triumphal” in tone.

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Under a regulation known as the “two-fleet rule”, automakers must meet CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards separately for their domestically produced and for their imported vehicles, rather than just hitting the same overall number through an average of both. The economics of production and transport tend to favor the domestic production of large cars and the importation of small economy cars. “For 30 years, to make and sell the large vehicles that earn their profits, the Detroit Three have been effectively required to build small cars in high-wage, UAW factories, though it means losing money on every car,” writes the WSJ’s Holman Jenkins, Jr. It’s “nonsensical” and “a naked handout to the UAW at the expense of the companies and their customers.” (“Yes, Detroit Can Be Fixed”, Nov. 5).

P.S. Of course the actual legislative responses we’re in for will probably be very different. Mickey Kaus: “So the UAW wants a $25 billion bailout and an end to the secret ballot … Because Wagner Act unionism clearly worked out so well for Detroit.”

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