By on October 17, 2010

The UAW is getting an interesting lecture: Ownership of a car manufacturer entails delicate handling of labor relations. As Ed had reminded us so rightly: “Pre-bankruptcy, GM didn’t have to deal with the fact that the UAW is incapable of building fuel-efficient subcompact cars profitably. But now that the General has promised to build the next-gen Aveo in Michigan’s Orion Township plant in exchange for nearly $800m in local tax credits (not to mention the political benefits of “saving or creating” hundreds of union jobs), it’s up to the UAW to square the circle and make the damn thing profitable.”

And now, the UAW gets a taste of how it is when the working masses protest in front of your building: “About 100 General Motors Co workers and retirees picketed outside the United Auto Workers union’s headquarters on Saturday to protest plans to build a new small car with low-wage workers,” reports Reuters. They didn’t picket RenCen. They didn’t picket the Orion plant. They picketed their own union.

As reported previously, the UAW enacted “innovative labor agreement provisions” that would allow GM to make a small car profitably in the United States. The creative part: Slash wages in half. Think back what would have happened before the UAW ended up as a co-owner of GM and a good chunk of the shares that are about to be IPO-ed.

According to Reuters, “details of the concessions granted by the UAW’s national leaders have angered many workers.” The most contentious detail: GM will be able to hire an increasing number of workers at wages of about $14 per hour.  That is about half of the nearly $29 per hour veteran UAW-represented GM workers make. Eventually, GM plans to staff the plant entirely with workers at the lower wage level, union officials told Orion workers.

No wonder China’s SAIC is interested in getting in on the ground floor with the GM IPO. If this trend continues, the U.S.A. will be the world’s new low cost producer. Workers protesting their own union? The Chinese are used to it.

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56 Comments on “Only In America: Workers Fight Their Own Union...”


  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    I rented a fully loaded Buick LaCrosse last week.  Awful dashboard ergonomics, a silly electric button for the parking brake, same weird on-center steering feel, and those standard weird sounds coming from undetermined places throughout the car.
    GM is doomed.  And I don’t give a smelly Obama about the UAW.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Lets get one thing straight,before we go into all in UAW bashing mode. The UAW does NOT build cars. The UAW represents GM  workers . GM builds, designs,and markets cars. GM, and only GM decides where , when and how cars are built. The UAW is not responsible for ANY decisions made by GM management.

      Many here will disagree,but the fact remains that the UAW/CAW granted some pretty ugly and nasty concessions during the 2007 to 2009 period. During this period the UAW/CAW had a gun held to thier collective head.

      Yes indeeed!…..The same gun that the unions held to managements head in earlier times. With managemen and the U.S, and Canadian governments finger firmly on the trigger, the UAW/CAW caved. Plain and simple…..they had no choice.

      The rank and file ,held their nose and agreed. Like any agreement,there was some fine print involved. This “fine print” has come back to bite the rank and file in thier a$$.

       It was a nasty time for all of us hourly, salary and retirees,and we still ain’t out of the woods.

      Pesonally, I don’t agree with” two tier”workers. However I voted with the union. I am painfully aware of the future ramifcations to us retirees,and am taking steps to lessen the impact.

      If the UAW/CAW is guilty of anything, it would be thier presentation/sell job at the ratification meetings. It was all there for all to see.

       I teading on thin ice here,but let me try to explain this. Anybody that has been around TTAC for awhile knows my grammer,puncution and spelling are awfull. However,I’m quite proud of my reading and verbal skills.

       The same could not be said for my former co workers. I’m not saying thier stupid, its just thier litteracy and comunication skils are somewhat lacking. The UAW/CAW like many other politicos uses this to thier advantage.

      The future for GM and Chrysler and the UAW/CAW?……IMHO is a toss of the dice.

    • 0 avatar
      caboaz

      So now the UAW has absoultely no responsibility for building cars or anything remotely related?  It’s amazing how your tone changes to suit the story.  Well, if what you say is true and the UAW members bolting bumpers on Chevy’s are truly nothing more than a mindless extension of an air gun with zero responsibility for what comes out of the factory door explain to me again why they are complaining about $14 per hour?  Because that’s about double the going rate for unskilled, unthinking, drone labor.  They should be happy to earn so much for doing next to nothing (at least according to the job description you just laid out for us).

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Mikey…

      I just ripped off the MADE BY UAW sticker from my MKS window.

      So what is it, made or NOT made by UAW workers????

      I did this not because I don’t like the UAW, which I don’t, but because I don’t allow advertising on my cars.
      Not by dealerships nor by UAW..

    • 0 avatar

      TT, I’m pretty sure the resale value of your Lincoln just increased ever-so-slightly with that one simple gesture.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      Mikey – that is a pathetic argument.  The guy doing the labor has no responsibility for the end product he built?  The problem lies in both the overpaid, greedy UAW workers (little skill, high wages) and GM’s overpaid, greedy management.  The post bankruptcy Gov’t Motors is doing much better b/c they shelved decades of debt associated with both their and the UAW’s greed.  UAW is still inside it like a cancer and GM will slowly be back in the same situation it has always been in.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Okay I’ll try again. The modern assembly line worker has little on no input to his job. Tourqe controlled tools and modern assembly line methods have translated to higher quality vehicles.

      Yes….workers make mistakes. If a worker makes too many mistakes, through “progressive discipline” he/she will find themseves out the door. Union or no union. I really don’t give a fu– if you believe it or not,its the way it is.

      Right! An assembly line worker is for all intents is a robot. If they had the technolgy to build the intire vehicle with robots, they would.

    • 0 avatar
      geo

      I could swear that UAW workers have always pushed for ridiculous wages and benefits because they are the ones “actually building the cars” while overpaid management sits in offices making stupid decisions.  How many times have we heard “We’re the ones doing all the real work”?  Why did Ron Gettlefinger talk about how the UAW is building great, environmentally-friendly cars?

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @coboaz Do you have any idea how many people I’ve encountered that could’t do the “mindless” work you mentioned? Either thier mind, or thier body, just simply couldn’t do it. Holding tiny screws in your hand while crawling under the IP,on a moving line. Your job being timed to the second. Ever have one of those days,where you just don’t stray too far from the toilet? Not a fun day on the line, believe me.

      I’ve seen grown men in tears, and guys that have thrown thier tools down and walked out the door. Many a dude has walked in the door with an attitude similar to youself. Some have come in as supervisers.

      Most of them walk out the door crying for thier momma.l

      One thing I got on about 99% of the B&B is I’ve lived and breathed it every day for 36 years. So unlike many here, I do have some idea of what I’m talking about.

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      Mikey – keep your contributions coming.  Some of the B&B need to understand that there is always another point of view.  I have never been a union guy, but I did a fair amount of manual labor in my younger years while going to school.  There are idiots on assembly lines and in warehouses.  There are also idiots in the air conditioned offices.  And there are good, intelligent, hard-working people in both places too. 

    • 0 avatar
      crackers

      The UAW as an organization certainly bears some responsibility for the predicament they are in, but Mikey is right. ALL quality and performance problems, regardless of the type of organization, are entirely the responsibility of senior management. They build the organization, they set its goals and standards and their behaviour and decision making set the example for everyone else. All it takes is one short sighted executive to make a decision that sacrifices quality for expediency and the rest of the organization quickly learns what those high-minded mission statements and quality policies really mean. The guys on the factory floor, certainly in North America, have very little control over anything.
      Even if someone does make a genuine (as opposed to deliberate) assembly mistake that gets out the door, this is the responsibility of the organization the employee works under. People aren’t perfect, so you have to build systems that recognize and compensate for this – again the responsibility of senior management.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Interesting point about a union shop and quality control.
       
      My uncle worked at GM’s Oshawa Truck plant (he took early retirement, FWIW).  He used to tell a story about some particular part that he was charged with making that he knew was going to fail because it was stamped badly.  He reported it to management and was effectively told to, to paraphrase, sit down, shut up and keep the line moving.
       
      It wasn’t the only story like that, but the common theme was that management didn’t particularly want the line stopped and wasn’t all that interested in democratic, ground-up quality control.  I will grant that this improved in later years ( and especially when you have companies like Toyota, who do empower workers to halt the line) but it really should hammer home that union workers have very, very little to do with why American cars were so poor for so long.

      Now, before someone brings up the cost issue, recall that, since about 2003, GM had lower operating costs than Toyota, and the pre-DCX Chrysler was turning a higher profit per unit. In Chrysler’s case you can blame Daimler’s mismanagement, but in the case of GM their profit problems stemmed from selling cars at a lower average price than Toyota et al, not because of the union, but because they had to put three times the incentives to move the metal. Again, not exactly the fault of the union.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I rented a fully loaded Buick LaCrosse last week.  Awful dashboard ergonomics, a silly electric button for the parking brake, same weird on-center steering feel, and those standard weird sounds coming from undetermined places throughout the car.

      And this has to do with the UAW how?

      And I don’t give a smelly Obama about the UAW.

      Oh, very classy.  I have to give Bush this: he made body-function slurs less lame.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      “recall that, since about 2003, GM had lower operating costs than Toyota”

      Did they? Given what we now know about GM’s infamous inability to control or even know what its costs were, I don’t think we can accept this at face value.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Given what we now know about GM’s infamous inability to control or even know what its costs were, I don’t think we can accept this at face value

      That’s an interesting point.

      Thusfar, GM hasn’t restated any of it’s past year’s financial statements on cost grounds, but they have been ambiguous on revenue and cash on hand.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      psarhjinian

      I always look forward to your words.
      But I am pretty sure George Bush is not part of this.

      And I agree, as I am sure most TTAC readers do as well, that the quality responsibility of any company lies at the feet of its management.
      Always has and always will.
      BUT most life within a company and its products are the responsibility of its managers.
      It is why they get paid more.

      But a big gripe with the union position is they feel they are the product and the company.
      This is not true.
      They are part…yest a very important human part…but not THE part.

      But like the recent uproar over the Chrysler union members drinking and drugging on the job, any example of poor management is just a snapshot in time and hopefully NOT the company philosophy. These stories can build steam and become urban leagends, taking on a false life.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      But I am pretty sure George Bush is not part of this.

      No, he isn’t.  Neither is Barack Obama.  I was just commenting on how much more elegant one could make a “Bush” double-entendre.  “Smelly Obama” is pretty third-grade.

      But a big gripe with the union position is they feel they are the product and the company.

      I don’t disagree that the UAW has the least empathetic PR since Marie Antoinette, but I have a problem with the level of vitriol they get—from commentators, not TTAC’s editors—vis a vis their actual role and responsibility.

      I understand the criticism and agree with much of it.  I don’t see the reason for the hatred, other than some extremely shallow thinking

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Psar
      I think what bothers most about the union(s) is their violent aggressive recruiting.
      As an example, today across the US any voters are going to the polls to decide IF unionization voting should be open ballet or private.
      This is especially aggravating to me. Since we all know the bullying and force used around union membership shops, a secret ballet is not something that should be eliminated.
      This is the ONE right any voter has.
      Let’s all be real.
      A vote to unionize or not should be secret.
      But it is this type of union politicking and action that makes people pretty anti and violent against unions.

  • avatar
    dwford

    It’s one thing for your union to agree to a two tier wage structure for new hires, it’s quite another to have the union that you have paid for years to advocate for you tell you that in order to get rehired at the plant you used to work at that you need to take a 50% wage cut. Who’s side is the union on? I am no fan of unions, and here is another reason why.

  • avatar


    the contract was never voted on and disparity in wages is inherently unfair and against the concept of solidarity.

    Ford is planning to build a small car in Michigan with Tier 1 wages, GM could also. the difficulties are not with the hourly workers, it’s with failed management. if mgt wanted to truly work with their employees there are possibilities other than creating diviseness and unhappiness within the organization. for example, if every Orion worker accepted 25 cents less per hour it would equate to the same dollar savings per car. that might have been acceptable. instead we see mgt negotiating with UAW leaders in secret and then trying to jam it down members throats. bottom line…very bad leadership. more reason why Ford will overtake GM in US Market Share.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      The concept of solidarity has always escaped me.
      The ability to do more, then get paid more, is not allowed in this solidarity concept.
      It is destined for failure because humans have always wanted to be rewarded for better, harder work. If this is not allowed, then t he entire drive to be better is non-existant.

      Somehow, the labor force has got to accept some kind of internal, and membership agreed to, individual pathway to suceed.

    • 0 avatar

      when you have an ethical and team driven organization, like Eastman Kodak was for years, there is no need for a union. GM on the other hand abused workers under abysmal conditions.

      It is we that wash the dishes, scrub the floors and chase the dirt
      Feed the kids and send them off to school and then we go to work
      Where we work for half wages for a boss that likes to flirt
      But the union makes us strong.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      This was bound to turn into the union thing.

      There can’t be any that believe that unions would allow for any non-unionized company IF they had the power to prevent it.
      This is like the Pope thinking your OK if your not Catholic.  Just because he can’t have it doesn’t mean he wouldn’t want everybody a Catholic.
      Likewise the UAW.
      Eventually, the spread of the union into all business is the deired end.
      Do not try to imply otherwise.

      The UAW wants ALL manufacturing plants organized, ethical or not.

      You lost me on the rest of your statement.

  • avatar
    john.fritz

    So this $14.00/HR wage figure that they hire in at, are these workers locked into that figure for a certain period of time? Will they earn yearly pay increases (like anywhere else)? Also, what about benefits? How dismal is the new-hire’s benefits package compared to when the existing union guys were the new-hires?
     
    I worked at a company in Indiana years ago that had union members A and B. You did not want to be a B. Not unless your wife was making good money along with an excellent benefits package. Then again, no one was holding a gun to your head telling you to work there.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      2-3 years ago, 14 was the starting wage rate at the Subaru plant in Indiana, where Legacys and some Camrys are built. Experienced workers got paid in upper 20s. I’d be surprised if GM/UAW have an arrangement where worker end up earning less than working of a non-unionized Subaru/Toyota plant.

  • avatar
    Patrickj

    Work for $14 an hour or wait for one’s unemployment to run out in a jobless environment.
    I don’t think this is a difficult choice.

    • 0 avatar

      For all the bluster and noise, ultimately the zombie workers will shut up and take their pittance. As hopelessly stupid as (mikey admits that) many UAW drones are, their base survival instincts are at least intact.

      It’s all about union workers being unable to function in the real-world environment, where they’d be judged on their own skills and merits… and laughable lack of same.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @Rob Finfrock… Speaking of folks with poor reading skills, did you read my comment? Uneducated, illiterate, and poor comunication skills does not equal stupid. I know of many former, and present auto workers with skilled hands that can build a house from scratch. Another guy that does frame off restorations by himself. He has a waiting list 2 years long. I guess he is able to funtion in “the real-world environment”
      A farmer with 200 acres prime famland. His equipment and land is all paid for and worth millions. I worked with a girl that was as hard as nails,her language could make a trooper blush. Her hobby? Buying rundown properties and renovating. Her touch for decorating was second to none. She retired with a seven figure bank account and spends her winters in one of her two Florida homes. I would have to say her “basic survival skills” were pretty good.

       

    • 0 avatar

      mikey, your attempts to “clarify” your comments reminds me of this wise saying: “When I hear someone say they’re not ‘book’ smart but they are ‘street’ smart, that means they’re not ‘real’ smart but they are ‘pretend’ smart.”

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    If the Tier 2 “unionistas” secure superior employment elsewhere they’re entitled to leave for the more lucrative positions. Far as I know they’re not chained to their work stations.

    Reminds me of unionized school teachers’ non-stop whining about Siberian salt mine working conditions. Nobody in the real world will pay them as much as the taxpayers are paying them now, especially with their work habits and accountability.

  • avatar
    jaje

    Funny Clip of Union (not UAW) using non-union workers (no benefits and low pay) to picket Walmart.
    http://www.breitbart.tv/daily-show-exposes-non-union-protesters-on-picket-line/

  • avatar
    50merc

    Don’t stop posting, Mikey. We need to hear your point of view. Most of us have no idea what it’s like to be a worker in an assembly plant. In fact, I’d like to hear more about the details of building engines, painting, installing interior trim, how products are tested, etc.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    The old guard (UAW) needs to implode and go away completely before The big 2.1 has any chance of making anything even remotely competitive.
    When I worked in a UAW engine plant (as an engineer), the whole parking lot would be littered with little “fifth” bottles of Jack Daniels, Vodka, tequila, etc. The UAW’s were too lazy to even put their garbage in a garbage can…do you really think they care about putting your engine together correctly???

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The old guard (UAW) needs to implode and go away completely before The big 2.1 has any chance of making anything even remotely competitive

      Why?  As above, GM had, and still has, lower costs per unit and Chrysler was able to make a serious profit for Daimler wrecked them.  Ford apparently can make cars that beat Toyota’s initial-quality rankings and are “up there” in Consumer Reports.

      I’d would hazard that all it takes is a management team willing to make a decent product for the D2.x to be competitive.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      GM has only recently had lower costs per unit than other car makers (and, from what I’ve, that number is only achieved by leaving out pension and benefit costs for retirees). It had higher costs for decades…and this higher cost structure DID affect its competitiveness in smaller cars.

      It’s great that GM may have lower labor costs NOW, but one model cycle can’t undo the clunkers that came out over the years because GM had to reduce product costs to compensate for higher costs in other areas. That’s like telling someone who has been 200 pounds overweight that he or she should immediately be able to run a marathon because he lost those extra pounds. Doesn’t work that way…

  • avatar

    Harley Davidson did the same thing recently.
    The agreement was announced after unionized Harley workers made serious concessions in a new 7-year contract with the motorcycle giant in order to cut labor costs and keep their own jobs form moving to another state.
    http://badgerherald.com/oped/2010/09/22/harley-davidson_deal.php

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    While it is important to hear and understand the point of view of people like Mikey who have spent 36 years as he put it working on a production line, as in everything in life there is another side to every story. One of the problems with working in one company on one job for that length of time is that you might not come to know how much better, or worse, other workers in other industries have it. The fact is, there are countless workplaces all over NA where long hours, back breaking work and low wages are the norm and the millions of people employed in these jobs look with envy at what Mikey is complaining about. Sure there are some difficult jobs in auto assembly and there are always people who find it difficult to do some jobs that others excel at. Nothing unusual about that. It is a number of years since I worked in a car plant (as an electrician) however grown men crying and dropping tools and walking out because the work was too hard is not something that I personally have seen. I do remember leaving the plant one Friday night at shift end and I noticed one guy who was crying and 2 of his buddies were trying to comfort him. I asked one guy what the problem was and was told that the guy crying had lost his third paycheque in a row at poker. You might ask how that could be but it was common for high stakes poker games to go on inside the plant, during production, usually in some closed in area with lookouts posted. I remember seeing pots piled high with twenty’s and whole paycheques. I knew places where you could buy booze or weed or even buy coffee with a splash of rye! I saw workers who were too drunk to work and lay asleep under a workbench covered in packing material while his buddies covered for him on the line. I saw workers by the score leaving early to go to strip clubs and bars and years later as a maintenance supervisor I  went to the same bars at luchtime to flush the guys out of it back to work where on a number of occasions I had to give one or more of them a chit for a cab to bring them home because they were not fit to work or drive. Writing them up was a waste of time. I could not ‘accuse’ them of being drunk but at the same time if I let them go back to work and they got hurt or hurt someone else, I would bear the blame for it. There are countless things like this that go on and when you mention them as examples of union excess you are told, “..and you think those things don’t happen in non-union car plants”. As if that somehow justified it. Having worked for a major supplier of interior parts for years I have been in almost every assembly plant in NA both union and non-union and I can tell you that there are very few if any non union plants that would tolerate the conditions and environment that lead to workers being able to carry on like I described above. I hasten to say that most autoworkers whether unionised or not are decent people and I count many among my personal friends but as is usual in life, there are a vociferous few who do not know how well off they are and give the rest a bad name.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      oboylepr;

      I find your treatise very interesting. Thank you! There are two ways to look at what you said about someone working for the same company for their career. They pay the “loyalty” penalty. On the plus side, you have a great retirement income, ideally, but on the minus side, by not working for other companies, you generally earn much less. Of course, by switching around, your income increases faster, but your retirement benefits suffer, or are non-existent. For assembly line workers, I’m not sure how true that is, but in other areas of work, it is true.

      As far as the goings-on in the plant with what certain employees do, that was dealt with very well in Arthur Hailey’s book “Wheels” 40 years ago. Quite an eye-opener.

      Thanks to Mikey and everyone else who weighed in on this. It is fascinating to hear this info!

  • avatar

    It’s not in an already hired employee’s interest to go on strike to increase the wages of new hires. While lower wages for new hires means less money flowing into union coffers from dues, there’s no economic harm to the higher wage employees. If existing employees go on strike against two-tier pay, they’ll never recover the wages lost during the strike.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    I tell you, it’s going to happen. Tier 2 hires will band together and get another union as a rep. Can you imagine the USW or the Teamsters and the UAW going at it head to head? You reap what you sow.

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      I agree with Dimwit. The UAW got members to approve a Tier 2 where new hires make less money.  The problem is that the vote did not affect the original Tier 1 guys.  But, the Union is now going to represent the Tier 2 guys too.  If this isn’t enough of a conflice of interest, the UAW takes major effective ownership stakes in GM and Chrysler. 

      If I were a Tier 2 employee (or a Tier 1 employee told that if I want to work at a particular plant, I have to agree to become a Tier 2) I would have to ask myself who “my” union is really representing?  Me?  Or the guy making lots more than me?  Or my employer?

      The UAW is, at some point, going to lose a decertification election because of this.  It will be awhile before they have the numbers to do it, but it is going to happen.  Honestly, I don’t see how the Tier 2 people would lose by trying to go non-union.  From what I can see, their dues are not getting them much of anything.

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    Oboylepr  you are right on , I have family in supervisor position and hear these stories all the time. The overpriced janitor with a cot in some closet, The men who slow down Mon-Fri so they can work O.T. ect. ect. I blame the management and union equally. So even though Ford and GM are building some of the best cars they have ever built I may never buy another one, and that is all I have ever driven in the last 50 years. Mikey–  after that many years have you been acclamated to some of this stuff, maybe its different in Canada.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      I won’t deny oboylepr stories. But his short time in the plant didn’t give him the full perspective.

      From 1979 to 1988 I was a production groupleader/trainer,and yes I’ve seen men cry cause they coudn’t keep up to the line. Without 90 days in, after three jobs management canned them. Drunk guys? Yes but not that common. Drunk guys after about 2004? Almost non exsistent.

       High stake poker,and guys losing three pay checks? Sad but true. Two or three savy players would gang up. They let the guy win a few hands,then they clean him out. It was frowned on by management and the union. When I retired it was still going on,they used chits instead of cash. What did PT Barnum say was born every minute?

      @mfgreen……After being out for two years, and working part time in the other/real world….yeah, it was a bit of a culture shock.

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    2080hrs x $14/hr = $29,120 annual wage.
     
    So now the UAW has unionized the workers living in their parent’s basement?  That is the only way twenty-nine one-twenty is a family or living wage.

    • 0 avatar
      Dimwit

      All depends on where you’re living. Alabama: that’s not too bad. More would be better, of course, but you could live on that. Inner Detroit, sure. Suburbs: a little tight. NYC: you couldn’t keep a parking spot for that but that’s why nobody has an assembly plant there.

    • 0 avatar
      CarPerson

      Let’s Pencil This
      2080hrs x $14/hr = $29,120 annual wage.
       
      The government will reduce take home to about $23,300.
      Union dues drops this to $22,700.
      Entry-level safe, respectable housing is about $10,000/yr, leaving $12,700.
      Subtract car and renter’s insurance and it’s $11,000.
      Car Payment of $250/mo leaves $8,000.
      Keeping the car running for a year reduces this to $6,700
      Your cell, cable, and internet connection cuts this to $5,200.
      Live the high life on $100 per week, earned by working full time in a “high paying union job”???
       
      You can jiggle the numbers a bit here and there, but don’t plan on meat in the center of the plate too many evenings a week.

      Half wages should translate to half union dues, shouldn’t it???

    • 0 avatar
      kjs

      $14/hr is not “high paid,” but it’s good entry-level pay. Consider also that they’re getting benefits. That’s about as much as I earned my first full year out of college as a white-collar professional — I rented with roommates, drove a used car (no payments!), & still managed to pay off over $20K in student debt within 2 1/2 years.

      Sure, the budget might be tight, but someone making that wage probably isn’t going to be impoverished.

  • avatar
    Winky


    Mikey hit the nail………
    Back in 1956, a bunch of us college engineering students visited the GM assembly plant in Framingham, MA. It was a daylong tour and we were given the VIP treatment by management (since they were always on the lookout for new engineering hires). When we left the plant for our coachride back to school, we all agreed that there was no assembly line job that we would be willing to do for more than a few days…. or possibly a few hours! We considered automobile assembly line work as a terrible way to make a living and workers should be paid well for such drudgery. It must be a little better now with the robotic arms, etc. 

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    If you cant build a small car in the US with union labor, build it elsewhere.   You gotta make a profit and if you cant do it with union labor it’s not the companies problem.  Americans are as sick of cry-baby unions as they are with poor overpaid management.  That’s why so many of us buy cars made at factories in southern states with Japanese style management and non-union labor.

  • avatar
    AaronH

    I don’t know why GM would even risk this in the USA…This decision is PURELY political and only bratty fools don’t think so…Thinking people at GM KNOW that they would get a LOT more production per monetary unit in southern NAFTA/CAFTA zones.

  • avatar
    wolfman

    Mikey I agree with everything you said. As a 31 year UAW worker and now retiree most of the anti union posters are living in the past. Workers are responsible for their own work. All work stations are equipped with computer buy offs of every unit. Many of the management are college educated which is a change from the past. In the old days most managers worked there way up off the assembly line. These new managers are not cut from the same cloth of old. Requiring a college degree actually limits quality candidates from being effective managers of experience. Too many that have a college degree are really not qualified to manage people. Also it seems that these anti union folks always have their eyes casted downward  when finding fault. The U.S. automakers like most upper management in the United States is not competitive when comparing their compensation on a world scale. Most foreign auto makers pay their CEOs in the 100s of thousands while our U.S. managers make multi millions per year. This inequity gives the average worker a sense of injustice when they are asked to take huge pay cuts that will affect their quality of life. People don’t realize that when American workers are asked to reduce their pay it affects all American workers whether directly or indirectly. Making tax paying middle class auto workers take pay cuts of 50% will only increase the use of social services in their community. Already the right wing complains about the rise in Americans who do not pay federal income tax, currently at 48% non paying. These workers who will be working for 14/hr will join the non paying federal tax payers.

  • avatar
    Mike-Hgl

    jaje
    October 17th, 2010 at 12:19 pm  

    JaJe posts
    “Funny Clip of Union (not UAW) using non-union workers (no benefits and low pay) to picket Walmart.”
    How ironic that is the very union that represents me. United Food and Commercial Workers.
    Multi – tiered wage scales have been a fact of life in the foods industry for decades. The approach works like this: Every time a new contract is negotiated (about every 4 or 5 years), a new tier is created for those workers hired after the contract is ratified. Those so-called “hereafter” employess almost always have reduced pay and/or benefits than those “onboard” employees. Meanwhile, those “onboard” employees (who are in various tier levels) are given some sort of token wage and/or benefit increases to appease them. Sometimes tiers are combined to simplify the process, especially as older employees become a smaller minority of the overall group, hence less voting power. The unions aim is to put togeather a package that the overall rank and file will vote yes to (with some dissent,of course) and also bend the rules and reduce the wage and benefit levels enough to keep the employer satisfied. 
    Then your local union rep comes around to your store (in this case, the plant) and tells you all the great benefits this package contains, how it will enhance your standard of living and to vote YES! The contract is voted in and then the “bad” language buried in the contract comes to light as the new contract is digested months later.
    Does this process work? Well, in my opinion after 30 years, yes and no. 
    As stated earlier in these posts, there are many , many people who would gladly take $14/hr over what they have now. This is simply the new reality in this train-wreck of an economy we live in. 
    As for the unions, they are only doing whatever it takes for self preservation and to perpetuate their high- paid positions.

  • avatar
    nevets248

    this WILL be the test for GM to compete in a new world market. the yoU Ain’t Working (UAW) need to realize the next scenario is to take production to somewhere where they can pay $14a DAY for the labor force.

  • avatar
    slance66

    I suspect that the one thing management really wants, and NEEDS, is for union employees to be “at will” just like those of us in non-union jobs.  Somebody drinking on the job?  Fire them.  Incompetent?  Fire them.  Job security is the problem…your only job security should come from the fact that you’re a good employee.  Get rid of the waste and the useless employees, and wages could rise for those who are doing the job the way it should be done. I have always wondered why the good workers put up with the bad ones. That’s the downside to “solidarity”. Never worked in a plant, but I worked for the state after college, in a union job…and those folks could never hack it in the private sector.  I’m not surprised these newer employees are picketing, they should.  I’m sure that some of them are great hard working employees, while some of the higher paid folks are useless bums.  Unions prevent management from rewarding those who deserve it.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      I don’t think I could have said this any better.  Solidarity can be a bad thing.  It invites people to get by.  Individuals do the job and they should be treated like individuals.  Tell me the guys who will be making ~$29/hr are all doing the same amount of work?  Tell me that they are twice as valuable as the $14/hr worker.  This isn’t going to be the case for anyone there.  Everyone should have individual pay, individual reviews, and be individually responsible for their performance.
       
      The ~$29/hr guys have no motivation to work any harder.  They are only going to work hard enough not to get fired.

  • avatar
    loverofcars1969

    Kinda funny people here are talking as if $14 an hour is chump change. There are families of 4 that live on less. As yes the line is hardwork my dad did it for 30+ yrs before he retired. I will say this not sure whether robot or person but the fit and finish of my 2009 CTS V is much to be desired but overall the car is an incredible kick in the pants. I just imagine how much better the car could be with better management and better quality minded workers.


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