By on October 27, 2010

The Freep reports

A laid-off worker at General Motor’s Orion Assembly plant has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in Detroit against the UAW for negotiating a deal to employ 40% of the workers at a lower wage rate.

Nick Waun, 31, of Lapeer said the UAW negotiated the agreement without giving workers a chance to consider it.

“The main thrust of this is to try to get a vote on the agreement, because they denied us a vote,” Waun said.

You don’t say? Didn’t see that one coming. No sir. But will the NLRB be sympathetic to the UAW’s well-reasoned position that some union brothers are more equal than others? Or is the union’s nominal ownership (by way of its VEBA benefits trust) of some 60 percent of GM’s equity possibly, just possibly, incompatible with the duties of a union? It’s a head-scratcher all right.

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30 Comments on “Orion Worker Files NRLB Complaint Against UAW Over Two-Tier Wage Deal...”


  • avatar
    N Number

    That PR poster really makes me want to do business with UAW Local 3520.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    As someone who thinks the idea of a labor union is fundamentally a good one, the weird tribal bullshit that goes on in the UAW is depressing.
    Anything that gets too big will eventually eat itself.

  • avatar

    the UAW Constitution places ultimate authority with the members and the locals who have a right to vote on a contract. they were denied such, therefore this complaint has merit.

  • avatar
    william442

    If any of you believe that labor unions have any relevance, please spend a weekend in Youngstown, Ohio. Take the steel mill tour.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Union democracy? Sounds like he just fell off the turnip truck.

  • avatar
    Commando

    Don’t rely on a short blogging.
    Before you all shoot from the hip with pro-union this and anti-union that, do your due diligence:
    http://www.inthesetimes.com/working/entry/6573/uaw_members_protest_two-tier_wages_at_gm_plant/
     

    • 0 avatar
      william442

      With respect, I have. I have been a United Steel Worker, local 1718, and a Teamster with McLean Trucking.

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      I read it.  It just confirms the problem here.  The UAW (and a majority of current members) agreed to create 2nd class members (that they call Tier 2).  The UAW wants to represent both 1st and 2nd class members, but will permit 1st class to be treated differently from 2nd class.

      The existing members that agreed to let 2nd class members into the union most likely understood that their senority would keep them in 1st class.  2nd class folks don’t get hired until all the 1st class people are either working or retired.  But wait.  Because it will take too long at GM to let 1st class members dwindle through attrition, GM propsed and the union agreed to allow 2nd class people to be hired and to cut in line.  OK, 1st class members, you can agree to become 2nd class members and get a job now.  If you elect to stay in 1st class, no telling when you may be called back to work.  Thus the problem.  Worker 1 gets both the job and high wages.  Worker 2 is forced to pick between the job OR high wages, but cannot have both.  Both worker 1 and worker 2 are Tier 1 members.  Why is the UAW allowed to treat some of its members better than others.

      The UAW is screwing these members.  If one of the employers had tried to treat 2 union workers this differently, it would have been either strike city or unfair labor practices all over the place.  What is different about this?  Will the NLRB do anything about this?  This is when we see if the NLRB is there to take care of workers or is there to take care of Unions.

    • 0 avatar
      FleetofWheel

      In These Times describes it self as “committed to political and economic democracy and opposed to the dominance of transnational corporations and the tyranny of marketplace values over human values.”
       
      Economic democracy, you know, where we all put our money into one big account and then everyone gets their fair share after a needs testing formula is applied.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      The Union had no choice. They had to accept two tiered wages. Now they have to live with it.

      Sometimes your the windshield………. sometimes your the bug.

      BTW….I was 36+ years UAW/CAW

    • 0 avatar

      We’ve covered this issue several times here at TTAC… read the links in the original post for the context.
      This is not about Two Tier wages per se, it’s about the union bringing back 40 percent of Orion’s workers at the lower wage. Union membership is supposed to vote on moves like this, but in this case the local is strictly forbidden from voting on this “innovative” practice, per an agreement reached between the UAW, GM and the government task force during GM’s bailout.
      The NLRB won’t overturn two-tier, so some UAW brothers will continue to be “more equal” than others… but this will stop the UAW from unilaterally pushing existing members down into the second tier. It might also prevent the next-gen Aveo from being built in the US. Watch this space…

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Victims of cannibalism usually put up a fight first, just like this fellow is doing.

  • avatar
    AaronH

    They could all just quit and go do something else…That’s what a man would do.

    • 0 avatar
      N Number

      +1

    • 0 avatar
      stryker1

      Really? Is that how it is at your current job? Your way or the highway 24/7?
       

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Isn’t that the way it ultimately is at most jobs? Unless you’re the owner you don’t make the rules. Don’t like it? Take your ball and go home.

    • 0 avatar
      tiredoldmechanic

      Jimal, owners most certainly do not get to make all the rules. If you are blessed with a unionized workforce, you must negotiate a collective agreement. Anyone who has ever been at a bargaining table knows that a dictatorial approach from either side will quickly escalate to a strike or lockout. If that happens, and you are the “owner”, you then get to explain to your bank manager or other investors how you plan to pay next month’s loan payment or disbursment. Big fun.
       Then if that isn’t enough rule making for one day, try telling the many and varied regulatory agencies you as an owner must satisfy just how things are going to be done. You can pick up your head on the way out. Customers also enjoy the “my way or the highway” approach. As do lawyers. And politicians if you are big enough to attract thier notice.
        Owning a business can be very rewarding if you work hard (figure 60 hours a week minimum), invest wisely, take all the risk and pay all the bills, but most people find that it’s a whole lot easier and there are a lot less rules if you just find a good job working for someone else.
      It ain’t quite as easy as it looks.
       

  • avatar
    ctowne

    union/non union is irrelevant. I know a lot of people who took wage cuts in the past year. I certainly sympathize, but it’s better than being handed a separation notice.

    Of course, since the UAW fostered the entitlement mindset on one hand while pulling the rug out from under it’s junior members with the other, I do think it’s got some answering to do.

    edit: of course, the people who took wage cuts all started looking for other work too. Not sure why that’s such a leap for some of these guys.

  • avatar

    first Ford workeers shot them down, then Saginaw did but folded, next was Indy where the members stood together. this is a line in the sand at Orion with serious ramifications for many aspects of the future. good luck Nick.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @ Edward Niedermeyer   The UAW didn’t want this agreement. The rank and file didn’t want  it either,or the locals for that matter. Yes, two tiered wages were part, and parcel of the bailout.

    The UAW was told, in no uncertain terms by GM and the US goverment “eat two tiered,or no bail out” the UAW accepted the lesser of two evils. Yeah,,it sucks, Ask yourself this. Would the UAW and the membership  been better off with a real Chapter 11? If they had put it to the rank and file,for sure it would have been voted down. Just look at the Indy stamping plant.

     I attended the last ratification meeting when the CAW was told by the Canadian and provincial govts. No concessions, no money from the goverment. The American government was going to bail out an American company to protect American jobs. GM made it very clear.” No Canadian money for a bail out”?..”we will liquify Canadian operations” A guy steps up to the mic and yell out “THIER BLUFFING” Who TF wants to call that bluff?

    35% wanted to call thier bluff. It passed by only 65%.

    And that boys, and girls is the reson why the UAW didn’t take “two tiered” to the rank an file.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    I assume the 40% employed at the lower wage rate is a fixed percentage? (So the lower rate workers are always a voting minority).
    In other words, lower rate senior workers “graduate” to a higher rate if new people are hired (at the lower rate) or high rate workers leave / retire.
    Or, in other words, GM management wasn’t dumb enough to allow low rate workers to (eventually) become a majority.

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    So Mikey, what happens if and when the Canadian Government gets it’s bailout money back?
    Will GM pull the plug anyway?

  • avatar
    Sugarbrie

    They did not need two tiers.  Pay everyone the same, just less.
     
    It costs every car company about the same to make a car, before including labor costs.  When the American companies all lose money while the rest make money, finding the problem is not difficult.
     

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Last time I looked Ford was still UAW/CAW…..Right, and they just turned the biggest quarter profit in thier history.

       In Germany the unions are far more powerfull than the UAW/CAW. VW seems to turn a profit.

      The UAW struggled to get the membership to agree with two tiered.

       I ask you “Sugarbrie….” How do you suppose a 25% cut across the board would have been recieved?


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