UAW-Controlled Car Companies Will Succeed

It looks like the eventual restructuring of both GM (GM) and Chrysler will result in the unions owning much larger stakes in these firms — that is, if they don’t liquidate.

The idea of a UAW-owned car company has prompted a lot of predictable guffawing: Har har, unions running the car companies? I’d like to see THAT.

But a car company with significant UAW ownership is bound to be run much better than car companies under the previous scenario because the Union, finally, will have a stake in the companies success. They’ve never had that before. Previously, their relationship was, frankly, parasitical. The union had no real reason to see the car companies succeed. They just wanted their wages maintained, their pension fully funded and their healthcare.

But you can’t be a parasitical on yourself. That’s impossible. The only way the union’s equity stakes in the car companies will be worth something is if the car companies make it. And if the car companies flail, they won’t really have anyone else to blame.

What’s more, workers collectives can work. You have housing cooperatives, power cooperatives, lawyer partnerships, Goldman Sachs (kind of, arguably). Why not a car cooperative?

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