In the annual vote by the Automotive News editorial staff, General Motors labor relations walked off with the dubious distinction of Flop of the Year for 1998.
The GM-UAW situation just does not seem to improve. Every year brings another profit-destroying and amity-demolishing confrontation.
The 1998 downer was the UAW's 54-day strikes that began June 5 in Flint, Mich. They shut down GM, cost the corporation $2.5 billion in profits and slashed market share to 21 percent in July and August.
Worse, GM made precious little progress in cutting labor costs.
Company executives argued lamely that they stood by their cost-cutting principles, then rushed Gary Cowger back from Adam Opel AG to mend fences with the union. Cowger's job is an ogre that grows and grows - 1999 is a UAW-contract year.
GM's labor woes won a slim 'victory' as Flop of the Year. Just one vote behind was Volkswagen's failure to get the rights to the Rolls-Royce name when it bought Rolls-Royce Motors.