Another day, another story on the ever-growing conflict between the UAW’s ownership stake in GM and responsibility to its members. Pre-bankruptcy, GM didn’t have to deal with the fact that the UAW is incapable of building fuel-efficient subcompact cars profitably. As a result, the outgoing Aveo was built and designed in Korea as the Daewoo Kalos, before being fitted with a bowtie and shipped to the US. 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. Which, according to Automotive News [sub] is just what they’ve done… by bumping 40 percent of the plant’s previous workers to the new “tier two” wages. Which is a nice way of saying “cutting their wages in half.” How is that possible?
The UAW’s 2009 amended contract with GM just before bankruptcy called for “innovative labor agreement provisions” that would allow GM to make a small car profitably in the United States.
Under those “innovative provisions” (which just happened to be conjured up when the government task force was elbow-deep in GM), Orion workers can neither appeal the decision nor go on strike over it. Either the UAW wants to be a union capable of building small cars profitably, or it doesn’t. Screwing less-senior “brothers” so politicians and union bosses can crow over the “green jobs” at Orion is cowardly and despicable.