The UAW hasn't said where its next constitutional convention will be, but union honchos may want it to be someplace more sensible than Las Vegas.
I've covered enough meetings and conventions in Las Vegas to know that people don't choose this desert oasis because the facilities are so much better than they are in other convention cities.
Believe it or not, it's the Sin City reputation that draws conventions and conventioneers.
And it doesn't matter whether it's the UAW or the National Automobile Dealers Association, the Specialty Equipment Market Association or the National Association of Broadcasters. When the day's work is done, a lot of folks want to go out and howl.
You know, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
I may be wrong, but rumor has it that such activity can be something of a distraction when you're trying to conduct serious business the next day.
If I were a dues-paying UAW member, it would bug me that the big shots were having fun someplace swell while I was sitting home sweating about losing benefits or maybe even my job.
Especially since UAW President Ron Gettelfinger talked about a declining membership base and laid out some of the cutbacks the union has had to make, things like closing 14 subregional offices and eliminating 20 percent of the union's clerical positions.
Yes, I know. Meetings are planned years in advance, and when the union decided to go to Las Vegas for this year's meeting, few would have guessed things would be so grim.
So it's time to start planning now. For the next convention, why not do it in Detroit?
The UAW had about 3,000 attendees at last week's convention in Las Vegas, including 1,400 delegates and 600 staffers, plus maybe 1,000 retirees and family members. There are venues in the Detroit area that can handle a gathering of that size or larger. Better yet, it's where many of the attendees live.
Doing it in Detroit would:
1. Send a frugal, sober message to the rank and file.
2. Save on airfare and hotel bills.
3. Allow delegates to drive cars they proudly built.
4. Let many attendees sleep in their own beds at night.
5. Get back to the union's roots.
Besides, why would any union want to hold a convention in a city sometimes known as Lost Wages?
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at [email protected]