UAW head targets Marines - and backfires

If recent world events have taught us anything, it's don't pick a fight with the US Marines.

If recent world events have taught us anything, it's don't pick a fight with the US Marines.

So we have to wonder just what in the world was going through the mind of Ron Gettelfinger last week as he tried to score PR points by calling out the troops - wait for it - for being unpatriotic.

Gettelfinger, president of the United Auto Workers International (UAW), announced that reservists who drive foreign cars or display pro-Bush bumper stickers would no longer be allowed to use the parking lot of UAW's Detroit headquarters.

Seems Gettelfinger has had enough of US-hating Marines betraying their country by driving Toyotas between stints in the Sunni Triangle. Even more shocking, he apparently thought the country would take his side.

"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.

Remarkably, it took almost an entire day for the UAW to reverse its stance and apologize in the face of overwhelming public disgust. Frankly, we're amazed the building is still standing.

Kudos, meanwhile, to Lt. Col. Joe Rutledge, who spoke for the Marines during the brush-up. True to his Pentagon PR training, he ignored the bait and focused on getting past the story. "In the big scheme of things, what I do is train Marines, and I'm preparing these guys to go overseas," he told the Detroit News.

Of course, he also made it clear his troops wouldn't be parking on UAW's lot anytime soon, despite the apology. Good for him.

  • Douglas Quenqua writes PR Play of the Week. He is PRWeek's news editor.

    Ratings:

    1. Clueless

    2. Ill-advised

    3. On the right track

    4. Savvy

    5. Ingenious

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