Lottery Post Journal

Marines bashed by UAW workers

By Eric Mayne / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- The United Auto Workers says Marine reservists should show a little more semper fi if they want to use the union's parking lot.

The Marine Corps motto means "always faithful," but the union says some reservists working out of a base on Jefferson Avenue in Detroit have been decidedly unfaithful to their fellow Americans by driving import cars and trucks.

So the UAW International will no longer allow members of the 1st Battalion 24th Marines to park at Solidarity House if they are driving foreign cars or displaying pro-President Bush bumper stickers

"While reservists certainly have the right to drive nonunion made vehicles and display bumper stickers touting the most anti-worker, anti-union president since the 1920s, that doesn't mean they have the right to park in a lot owned by the members of the UAW," the union said in a statement released Friday.

Shocked and disappointed, the Marines are pulling out.

"You either support the Marines or you don't," said Lt. Col. Joe Rutledge, commanding officer of the battalion's active duty instructors. "I'm telling my Marines that they're no longer parking there."

At a time when U.S. armed forces are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, quibbling over parking privileges is "silly," Rutledge said.

The UAW has a long history of barring foreign-made cars from its parking lots. The subject is touchier than ever as Detroit's Big Three loses market share, driving down union membership.

The pro-Bush bumper stickers are another sore spot after last year's election.

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger opposed President Bush, accusing him of ignoring calls for labor law renorm and failing to combat unfair business practices in China -- a growing threat to U.S. manufacturers.

The dispute arises as the UAW, using laid-off workers for labor, is building a $300,000 home for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The home in Eaton Rapids will operate a residential program for children of veterans who don't have parents, or whose parents can't care for them.

"We do not think it is unreasonable to expect our guests to practice the simple principle of not insulting their host," the UAW statement said.

Rutledge is unmoved.

"I don't see it as a snub against them," he said, adding no conditions were set when the union first began allowing the Marines to park in the lot several years ago. "We're appreciative of what they've done, but you don't come into my office and say, 'OK, we're not going to support some of your Marines.' I don't know what a foreign car is today anyway. BMWs are made in South Carolina now."

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