Detroit Free Press: Marick Masters on future of auto shows, UAW

The auto industry won't soon forget 2020, but it can't embrace a 2021 recovery yet. Last year's turbulence casts a long shadow over this year, assuring us that it'll be a while before we shake the horror — and the heroics — of last year and return to any sense of normal. There is a "question mark" over the future of auto shows for many brands, said Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University. "These auto shows are very expensive for the companies so you have to think what kind of return do you get?" Masters said. "It’s a good event, but does it really add value to the industry? That’s hard to say." The UAW had its share of problems last year amid a years-long corruption probe that so far has resulted in convictions for 15 people. The criminal investigation of the UAW is done, but Ford and FCA remain under watch. While the union has some 400,000 members, the guilty parties included two presidents and vice presidents. The UAW’s settlement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office — which did not entail a government takeover of the union, but rather appoints an independent monitor for six years — puts the UAW in a position to reclaim internal stability. That is vital to its ability to represent its members responsibly and heal labor-management relations, Masters said. Nothing is more potentially destabilizing to labor-management relations than a union under continued prosecutorial siege, he said. "The union was in a weakened position because it was negotiating with the Detroit Three while the scandal was breaking on a weekly basis," Masters said. "Imagine the strength it would have had without that. Now it is in a stronger position and that helps stabilize labor and management relations and they will be in position of strength in an uncertain future." Members have a chance to determine how they want to elect their international officers while the independent monitor checks for the possibility of future corruption, Masters said.

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