I'm hearing the truly bizarre argument that the UAW didn't scuttle the negotiations; it was the Republicans unreasonable insistence that they cut their wages to levels comparable to that of their competition. After all, the UAW was perfectly willing to negotiate their compensation package--in 2011, when their current contract expires.
And I think that's perfectly reasonable. We'll just wait until 2011 to give them the money, then.
If you know why that's stupid, then you know why the other argument is stupid, too. GM is losing money now. It needs to cut its labor costs (and its other costs) now, not in 2011.
This seems so elementary to me that I cannot even believe we are arguing about it: the reason Gettlefinger needs to take a haircut along with everyone else, is that if he doesn't take a haircut, GM will be back in 6 months asking for more money. There is absolutely no way whatsoever that GM has any hope of profitably making a car with labor costs higher than their competitors. Their labor costs should be lower than their competitors, because they have to sell their cars at a steep discount. Even if we somehow magically revolutionize the management tomorrow and get them steep discounts on their debt, it is going to take them years to rebuild their brand to the point where they can charge comparable prices to Japanese cars. GM cannot afford to pay its workers more than the competition in that situation.