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What we think: Talks at Martinrea are getting tiresome

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By The Staff

Is it just us, or does all this posturing, finger-pointing and name-calling at Martinrea Heavy Stamping seem to be both inappropriate and tiresome?

The United Auto Workers and company management continue their spat about a new contract, and sometimes it seems that the games they are playing are more the stuff of the Disney Channel than CNBC.

Let’s be clear about one thing: We’re not taking sides on whether contract offers have been adequate or the process fair. We don’t know enough details about either to make such a value judgment.

But we do know that the whole discussion seems counterproductive.

Martinrea has been fighting for its life for about two years now. The downturn of the automotive industry – particularly for sport-utility vehicles and light trucks manufactured by Ford – has sent the company plummeting from one of Shelby County’s largest and most vibrant workforces to the precipice of dissolution.

Nearly ninety percent of the employees have been laid off, and those who remain have seen their wages and benefits cut precipitously. Among local government leaders, the over-under bet on how long the plant would remain open was February.

But Martinrea has kept going, and now management is asking for further concessions from the UAW, and the talks have been ongoing. Sort of.

Contradictory statements, wagged fingers, bent rules and hide-and-seek managers have now become the norm, and that just seems to be a waste of both energy and time.

There’s little doubt that the employees and managers share one primary goal: To keep the place open and the workforce working. Shelby County needs that, too.

So shouldn’t reaching that goal be paramount to all the other stuff?

After all, if management and employees can’t work together on a contract, they won’t be working together at all.