Anger over Senate’s rejection of auto bailout

December 13, 2008
Philadelphia Inquirer

A foolish game of chicken? Or a reasonable gamble that the White House would, when push came to shove, have its back?

It is unclear what emboldened the United Auto Workers union Thursday night to reject Senate Republican calls for deep cuts in worker compensation by 2009.

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"As crazy as it seems, my own view is that the pieces are in place more so than they have been in years for organized labor to make a comeback - if they do it right," said James A. Matthews III.

He is a partner and co-chair of the labor and employment department at Fox Rothschild in Philadelphia. He also is a second-generation labor lawyer - for management.

With other federal economic relief available and a "Congress with more D's and fewer R's" about to take over, Matthews said, "I think this is an extended dance, and there's a lot of dancing left to do."

No sooner had he made that prediction than the Bush administration issued word that it would consider tapping the $700 billion financial-industry bailout fund to help sustain the worst-off of the car industry - General Motors Corp. and Chrysler L.L.C. - until Congress reconvenes next month.