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Are unions the problem or solution for auto industry?
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Johnathan Cutler writes an interesting piece in the LA Times considering whether the problems with the auto industry have more to do with the union plants operated by the Big Three or the nonunion plants operated by Japanese automakers.

The good news is that Japanese automakers are influenced more by unions at home than they are here. The bad news is that, in Cutler's view, the UAW seems to have made no attempt to use that to its advantage.

Is transplant management the difference then? According to the prevailing wisdom, Japanese auto companies neither trust nor understand the American notion of labor unionism. Ah, but there's the rub. The very companies that operate as nonunion transplants in the United States have always confronted a unionized workforce at home, organized by the Japanese Automobile Workers Confederation.

The UAW simply never established any sort of alliance with the Japanese Automobile Workers Confederation. And yet the UAW leadership knew plenty about Japan and the Japanese labor movement. The leader of the Japanese Automobile Workers Confederation was Ichiro Shioji. As David Halberstam noted in his 1986 book, "The Reckoning," Shioji spent a year at Harvard in 1960 and then spent a summer at the UAW headquarters in Detroit, befriending all the major UAW leaders, including Walter Reuther, Leonard Woodcock and Douglas Fraser. Shioji was no stranger to the UAW.

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