More on Auto ESOP from WSJ

DETROIT -- A group of current and former Chrysler LLC workers who have long sought to have employees buy the auto maker are appealing to the Obama administration's auto task in a long-shot bit to win support for the idea.

The group was hoping to have a meeting with the task force on Wednesday but the session was canceled, said Michele Mauder, president of the American Auto Worker Ownership Committee, the group leading the effort.

The group led a similar bid to purchase the company in 2007 but were unsuccessful. Chrysler instead was acquired by Cerberus Capital Management LP from its previous owners, Daimler AG.

The 2007 effort was mainly led by members of the United Auto Workers union who opposed the acquisition by Cerberus, a private equity firm.

The current effort includes a broader band of Chrysler stakeholders, including former managers, small retiree groups and a number of suppliers, Ms. Mauder said.

The United Auto Workers has agreed to a deal with Chrysler that cuts labor costs and would leave a union-controlled health care trust owning 55% of the company, if its planned restructuring proceeds as hoped.

Mr. Mauder said she and others in her group oppose union ownership of the company. They see the tentative agreement with the UAW as handing the company over to UAW leadership rather than rank and file union members or non-UAW employees, she said.

"They're going to be the ones that have a vote, not the employees," said Ms. Mauder. "So it will be business as usual."

Mrs. Mauder, a former UAW member, from Toledo says those in favor of an employee purchase of Chrysler reorganized in recent months. The AAWOC has more than 200 active volunteers.

"We really want full ownership," she said. "We can have a new Detroit, not the same business as usual."

Ms. Mauder's effort is backed by civil rights icon Walter Fauntroy, a former congressman and advocate of employee stock ownership plans, or ESOPs.

Write to Alex P. Kellogg at


Anonymous,  Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 7:45:00 AM CDT  

The ultimate irony is the unions have always supported the Democrats because they were for "the working man" and "the little guy" and it will be the Democrats that block worker ownership of Chrysler (and GM). It's much easier to control the politburo than the proletariat.

Ronald Reagan's Speech on Project Economic Justice

In 1987, the Center for Economic and Social Justice representatives delivered the Presidential Task Force report directly to President Ronald Reagan at a White House ceremony and Pope John Paul II in a private audience at the Vatican.

Jan Baker Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 7:56:00 AM CDT  

Tell me straight up, Distributist Review: should Catholics help this initiative, or not?

John Médaille Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 8:33:00 AM CDT  

Jan. Straight up? YES. One can quibble with this aspect or that, one can suggest this change or that. But underlying it all is absolute support for worker ownership, for overcoming the division between capital and labor, as John Paul II advised us, for ensuring that each person is entitle to consider himself as "part owner of the great workbench at which he is working with everyone else."

Premodern Bloke Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 1:40:00 PM CDT  

Let's not kid ourselves into believing that the UAW, whether one is thinking of its leadership, or the rank and file, has any connection whatsoever to the medieval concept of the guild.

Jan Baker Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 3:36:00 PM CDT  

Jeff, Mauder says they're not the UAW. I asked her in a personal letter, that's what she said. I asked about the connection to the democratic party, and she replied that there was no connection other than the support of Conyers (not their support of Conyers, his support of the proposal), and then she said neither were they connected with the UAW. Of course, she might be lying. And so what if this isn't a guild, by the definition. This is a cooperative. But isn't that still distributist?

Tom Laney Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 7:36:00 PM CDT  

I'm no expert on Guilds but Mondragon is not a Guild either is it? But it's a hell of a lot better than anything coming out of Detroit or DC.

The idea, that engineers and lineworkers would participate in an inspirational production system, protect craft and quality, is somewhat like a Guild I think.

This ESOP plan needs to be tweaked because it still leaves the production system too large and the same shifty management characters in power.

I think Michele Mauder is honest, works hard and is quite courageous. It is not easy to stand up to the UAW. I've had several phone conversations with her and maybe 50 emails. She is one gutsy lady!

Anonymous,  Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 8:56:00 PM CDT  

Tom Said: "it still leaves the production system too large and the same shifty management characters in power."

The management issue is the key in my view. Have you ever heard the SRC story ? I'm not saying this is the complete answer, but it's a big step in the right direction.

Tom Laney Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at 8:43:00 AM CDT  

Thanks Jim. It's not the whole answer but it's interesting and encouraging and I'll look into it. I knew UAW reps from Harvester who just road the concessions train right to oblivion. The UAW stopped learning a long time ago. But there are UAW members who can do most anything well.

The core thing to me is that the purpose of business is service to the community, at a fair profit; service being prior to profit.

Jan Baker Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at 6:24:00 PM CDT  

I am just working on a post on thewhitelilyblog updating ASOC info, and noticed that Norm Kurland of Just Third Way and the American Revolutionary Party is on the board of directors. Their website says, or used to say, they are pro-life, but I have private correspondence with Mr. Kurland that indicates he would not make the roll-back of Roe a deal breaker; it is not worth 'starting a civil war over.' (I demurred, of course.)

Do you think that matters in an initiative like this one? I do not think there is any way a Catholic could support any health care reform plan at all, even a cooperative one, with this administration at the healm, and perhaps never, as long as abortion is legal. But maybe not an initiative like this one. Tell me what you think. Since there is no "notify of follow-ups" here, feel free to come to thewhitelyly to leave me a reply, on any post. I'll try to check back here, too, but I tend to get lost in the new posts.

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