Thursday, 17 March, 2005

USMC versus UAW

I've been following this one since last week, waiting for some sort of resolution. It's ended, I think, and in the way that I would have predicted.

For the past 10 years, the United Auto Workers union has allowed members of the 1st Battalion, 24th Marines reserve unit to park at the union's Solidarity House headquarters in Detroit. Last week UAW officials told the Marines that they would no longer allow foreign cars or cars that have pro-Bush bumper stickers. Much public outcry ensued on both sides of the issue. The commanding officer, Lt. Col Joe Rutledge, did what any good Marine would do: he ignored the political B.S. and made alternate parking arrangements for his troops. When the UAW reversed its decision in the face of public outcry earlier this week, Rutledge said that his Marines wouldn't be parking at the lot anymore. "Either you support the Marines or you don't."

I can't imagine what UAW President Ron Gettelfinger was thinking when he put those restrictions on the Marines' vehicles. How could he misjudge public sentiment so badly? As a former Marine reservist he had to know that restricting the parking privileges of any Marine in the unit would be viewed by the other Marines as a slap in the face to all of them. If nothing else, Marines stick together.

You'll notice, though, that the Marines handled this peacefully by making other parking arrangements. You didn't see the Marines roughing up UAW members or vandalizing the UAW's property, and you didn't hear them whining about being oppressed or discriminated against. No, they just went about their business. One wonders if the UAW would have done the same had their positions been reversed.

To be fair, the UAW has a long history of supporting U.S. service men, and continues to do so. The initial decision to restrict the parking privileges was a very stupid move on the part of the union leadership and (I hope) does not reflect the sentiments of the union's rank and file.

Full details:
  Parking Feud (WXYZ TV)
  Marines driven out of UAW lot (Detroit News)
  Marines snub UAW olive branch (Detroit News)