Don't Blame Unions for Industry's Demise

In his column about the U.S. auto industry's troubles ("Yes to Chrysler and Recovery," Oct. 6), James Flanigan writes: "Japanese auto makers did not achieve their adaptability through divine intervention. They got it three decades ago when the Japanese government and auto management combined to defeat an attempt to organize the industrywide automobile union, on the model of the United Auto Workers."

Now I know his hypothesis is that auto manufacturers in Japan gained their dominance because they didn't have to wrestle with pesky unions, thereby becoming more "adaptable." But that view conveniently overlooks Japanese car makers' high reinvestment of profits, stronger research and development and U.S. car makers' enthusiastic cooperation in their own demise by designing big, clunky, unimaginative gas guzzlers for 30 years while putting most of the profits in executives' pockets.

I am weary of hearing variations on the tiresome theme "America would be a lot more competitive if it weren't for those damn unions."

Unions represent 16% of the U.S. work force, half of that in the public sector. In terms of competitiveness or non-competitiveness, organized labor is simply irrelevant.

If America can't compete, let's point the finger where it belongs: at incompetent, overstaffed, overpaid management, moronic government policies and a ballooning national deficit. Just for Pete's sake stop hanging it around the necks of labor unions. They have a hard enough time breathing as it is.

STEVE HULETT

North Hollywood

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