The UAW was noticeably silent at last Tuesday's "first day" motions hearing in the Delphi bankruptcy case in New York.
Though U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain acted on two dozen Delphi motions, including one that set deadlines for the union to negotiate new labor agreements with Delphi, the UAW said nothing.
UAW President Ron Gettelfinger wasn't even in the courtroom on this historic day. That just didn't seem right.
It prompted me to wonder how a more visible labor leader -- the late Jimmy Hoffa, for instance -- would have handled this very public opportunity to object to the 60 percent wage cuts that Delphi has in mind for union workers.
I was surprised by Gettelfinger's absence. I've seen him with the media. He's a bright, articulate guy. I know he objects to Miller's plan to cut wages for 25,000 Delphi union members from $25 an hour to $10 an hour. He objects to Delphi's plan to cut pension benefits and health care. But nary a UAW voice was heard in the New York media capital, either inside the courtroom or out.
Delphi CEO Steve Miller, meanwhile, sensed the symbolic significance of this day. He felt it was important while he was in New York last week to make editorial board appearances at The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and the offices of other key opinion makers. He knows that this fight is as much about winning the hearts and minds of Americans as it is prevailing on arcane bankruptcy laws.