By on January 7, 2011

As the biggest week in the American auto industry, the annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit regularly attracts a sideshow of protesters bent on sending a message to the hordes of executives and analysts who cram Cobo Hall. In 2009, UAW members marched against the possibility that the auto bailout (then still a work-in-progress) would require union concessions. Last year, Tea Party groups rallied to protest the government’s ownership of GM and Chrysler, while UAW members counter-rallied in support of the bailout (apparently those concessions weren’t so bad). This year will be no exception to the trend, as dissident UAW members will be protesting the union’s two-tier wage system, a pre-bailout concession that has created considerable controversy of late. And they’ll be getting support (if only in word, not action) from across their friends from the North, as the Canadian Auto Worker boss has recently called for an end to the two-tier system, saying

That has to be a strategy of the UAW to gradually get out of the two-tiered system. I don’t know if it can happen overnight, but they’ve got to start sending signals to future employees that the low, tiered wages are not something that can sustain families long term

And there’s an interesting point to be made there. After all,

New hires at Chrysler, Ford and General Motors plants in the U.S. are paid $14 an hour, half of the regular hourly rate. In Canada, new hires earn about $24 an hour – 70 per cent of the regular hourly rate – and reach parity over a six-year period.

But the CAW isn’t necessary calling for a single wage for all union workers… after all, that would require sacrifice from existing members. Instead, CAW boss Ken Lewenza argues

GM and Chrysler cleared out a lot of debt, so they’re in good shape. Ford is having a remarkable turnaround based on product and increased market share so you’ve got to take advantage of it. So, Id like to think sacrifice bargaining is behind us.

Maybe someday the auto worker unions will find a single sustainable wage that works for all workers as well as the firms that hire them, but that day seems as far away as ever. In the meantime, angry protests should make for an interesting counterpoint to the glitz and cocktail receptions that otherwise define NAIAS. TTAC will definitely make a point of visiting the protest scheduled for this Sunday in hopes of better understanding the conflicted state of the United Auto Workers. After all, union leaders seem more interested in snagging seats on the boards of the Detroit automakers [sub] than listening to its members.

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60 Comments on “UAW To Protest Two-Tier Wages At NAIAS...”


  • avatar
    mikey

    Lewenza is right. Bob King should start paying attention to the membership.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      I thinnk that King is listening to “the members” but the members he is listening to are the high wage, Tier 1 workers who currently outnumber the low wage, Tier 2 workers.

      When the Tier 2 workers outnumber the Tier 1 workers, I’m sure the Tier 2 folks will negotiate to re-allocate wages between the two groups (meet in the middle or some other compromise that could be cost neutral to the automakers).

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tier two folks start de-certification campaigns to leave the UAW and switch to other, less screwed up unions as soon as the Tier 2 workers have a majority in a given assembly plant.

      The UAW leadership is destroying the union from the inside and I’d like to give King the credit he deserves for hastening the end of the most useless union in North America. If the employees are dead set on union representation, they can do much better than the UAW.

    • 0 avatar
      EEGeek

      I’d say that government employee unions are for more useless and detrimental than the UAW ever thought about being.  Government employee unions should be outlawed.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      @EEGeek

      Useful or not, government unions are very effective representatives of their members. In a massively screwed up economy, government workers haven’t seen wages, benefits or pensions cut much if at all. Whatever the government workers pay in union dues its money well spent.

      Whether or not government unions are of benefit to us as citizens or as a society is debatable and I see your point, but you can’t deny how well government unions have done for their members. In comparison, the UAW are the Keystone cops. From an effectiveness standpoint, I stand by my statement that the UAW is North America’s most useless union.

    • 0 avatar
      musiccitymafia

      “In a massively screwed up economy, government workers haven’t seen wages, benefits or pensions cut much if at all”

      And this is a good thing? What happened to sharing the pain with the rest of us sobs.

    • 0 avatar
      Bancho

      @musiccitymafia:
      If you’re the one being represented by the union in that case, then it is a good thing. That’s the point silvy_nonsense was making.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      In the last several economic upturns, public-sector employees, and especially senior ones, haven’t seen the same increases as the private sector.  It is true that the worst-paid public sector employee is better paid than the worst-paid private sector ones, but even that gap narrows in good times.
       
      Personally, I don’t have an issue with that, not when the alternative is private-sector pay scales where C-suite rock stars make orders of magnitude more than their employees and can, and often do, wreck the companies they manage with not a whole lot of consequence.
       
      Or, let me put it this way: it wasn’t the public sector that ran the economic Titanic into the iceberg, and yet they’re not paid nearly so well as those that did.
       
      Instead of asking why government workers do so well, perhaps you ought to be asking why you the private sector workers are doing so poorly, despite their managers benefiting from public largesse?  Maybe it’s about time more of the private sector unionized as well?

    • 0 avatar

      Psar,
      Can government employees create wealth?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Can government employees create wealth?
       

      I know you’re being facetious, but I’ll answer the question anyway.  Government provides and/or incubates much of the infrastructure that enables the private sector to create wealth; infrastructure that the short-term-oriented private sector is loath to invest in.

      You and I make use of a rather obvious example of such to communicate right now.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      @ psarhjinian

      The public sector is notorious for its bureaucracy and ineffectiveness.

      Public sector employees couldn’t run the Titanic into an iceberg because they can’t stop calling meetings to discuss how they should go about the project. If we asked a public employee to shoot the side of a barn, he’d be tied up in a byzantine procurement contract process for eight months trying to buy the gun and then show up and act surprised that he didn’t have bullets because “no body told him he needed to get those, too.” On closer inspection, the poor fool would probably have a staple gun. Instead of re-bidding the gun contract, the public employee would probably just condemn the barn and have it knocked down to just make the problem go away.

      The high rates of pay, generous benefits and pensions that public employees receive far exceeds their productivity and the value they add to society. The last thing we need to do is to infect the private sector with the ham-fisted management, dull thinking and lack of enthusiasm found in the public sector. While its true some private companies are managed by idiots, most aren’t. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for government.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Public sector employees couldn’t run the Titanic into an iceberg because they can’t stop calling meetings to discuss how they should go about the project

      Have you worked for a bank?  How about a big-four accounting firm?   A large technology services firm?  I have, as well as for government, and I can tell you that the same kind of thing happens in equal measure in both environments (actually, to be fair, the accounting firm was the worst).  The only difference is that government pays the low end a bit better and the private sector pays the high end obscenely well.

      The “government bad/industry good” makes for wonderful copy if you subscribe to a particular ideology, but the truth is when you get to the scale of hundred or thousands of employees that the fundamentals of human nature ends up playing out in much the same way. Sometimes, individual managers and staff can make a particular department work very well or spectacularly badly, and sometimes exceptional leadership can do that for an entire organization—-but again that’s not specific to public or private sector work.

    • 0 avatar
      Morea

      One reason that public sector employees appear so inefficient is the tremendous amount of red tape they have to deal with in getting their jobs done.  If you are on the outside and whine about all the rules and regulations in dealing with government, image what it is like on the inside.  Public sector employees are just a frustrated as the public they serve, maybe more so. This causes some of them to give up and just go through the motions.
       
      All these rules are ostensibly in place to prevent mis-spending of the public’s money.  The truly horrible part is that it is the elected officials and political appointees that are the source of most of the waste.  Congressional earmarks of Federal dollars (which are administered by the public sector career employees) make those employees blanch at the total waste of dollars these pork barrel projects often represent.  Yet they are required to spend the money as allocated. This can be very disspiriting.

  • avatar
    MikeAR

    How can the UAW protest two-tier wages when they agreed to them and forced it on their membership?

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      It’s a dissident group of UAW members protesting the actions of the union leadership. It’s no different than a splinter group of Republicans or Democrats protesting the actions of party leadership.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Oh, ok I was under the impression that the UAW was protesting itself.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      “Oh, ok I was under the impression that the UAW was protesting itself.”

      You’re correct, it is protesting itself. What I find strange is that the workers are protesting outside of an event that helps whip up interest in the product they make, which helps their job security. If people don’t attend the auto show or other unions won’t cross the picket line and the show doesn’t go as well as a result, the protesters are shooting themselves in the foot.

      I can understand why the Tier 2 members are unhappy, but someone needs to explain to them that protesting outside an event that helps them keep their job probably isn’t a good idea.

  • avatar

    two tier wages are total crap and will lead to problems internally, quality will suffer from the bad attitudes.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      There’s probably truth to what you are saying. I haven’t seen any figures comparing quality at two tier facilities to “one tier” facilities, but poor morale and dissent don’t usually lead to superior quality.

      Keep in mind that it is only a two tier system as long as the older, Tier 1 workers are still employed. Eventually they will all retire or move on and it will be a “one tier” system at the lower wage. Its a bummer to think about, but the lower wages for autoworkers are the new reality, especially since its relatively easy and there is little consequence for moving production overseas (or across the border to Mexico).

      We consumers love low prices more than we hate offshore production.
       

    • 0 avatar
      itsgotvtakyo

      And here’s why you clowns have already lost the war…

  • avatar
    Autojunkie


    If any 2nd tier a$$hole wants to give up their job, I know of at least five people (here in Detroit) that will jump in and take teir place.

    My brother would LOVE a $15.00 an hour job today! He’s applied for a “line job” at GM, Ford, and Chrysler. He hasn’t worked for nearly two years since losing his business to the Great Recession here in Michigan. I know, for a fact, that he would even take the job for $10 an hour!

    These f**kwads should count themselves as lucky they even have a job right now!

    Keep in mind I come from a UAW family.

    • 0 avatar

      first of all mr junkie you need to learn some class, secondly I don’t think you’re what you portray yourself to be and likely are a mole. it’s 14 not 15, but you knew that as you try to look clueless…which you succeeded at. no one can support a family on the second tier wages and this will lead to class struggles and real probelms inside the plant. it’s the fault of incompetnet and greedy management that snubs workers while taking increased bonuses. GM is a bad joke, unless of course you listen to the banksters analysts.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Buickman,
      Most will not disagree that $14 an hour isn’t enough to raise a family.  Most families aren’t single income families either.  So $14 an hour isn’t bad for some of the family income.  If it isn’t enough for you, go find a job elsewhere.
       
       
      IMHO, 2 tier job wages are a bad idea, as are single tier wages.  People should be evaluated as individuals to determine how useful they are and rewarded accordingly, or for that fact, not rewarded.  Grouping wages makes no sense.  Not every employee works as hard as another or is as good at their job.  Tiered wages invites people to be lazy.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      $14/hr is just over $29K a year, not including benefits and overtime.
       
      Literally thousands of people manage to support a family on incomes that are lower than that, and many of them do it in places with a much higher cost of living than Detroit.
       
      Also, there is no inherent “right to make enough to support a family” as far as I know.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      @Steven02 “Tiered wages invites people to be lazy.”

      Your assertion that “single tier wages” (union bargaining) encourage laziness seems logical, but doesn’t hold up in practice. I’ve worked as both a union member and non-union worker and as a manager of both union and non-union shops. Lazy workers are lazy regardless of how much you pay them. Hard workers work hard even if they make the same money as their lazy co-workers.

      There are plenty of employers that pay people based on merit and that doesn’t magically make everyone productive. Low productivity has more to do with ineffective, rudderless management than is has to do with worker pay. In a production environment, pay is important to people, but it has less effect on productivity than you think. If you need to double productivity, doubling wages will not get that result.

      (A merit based pay system is just a tiered pay system with a whole bunch of tiers. Tiered pay is the norm. Discuss.)

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      I never said that production was directly related to pay.  A person can only be so productive.  Doubling the pay would double production obviously.
       
      What I was saying is that there is no incentive to try harder with a tiered system.  The workers at one tier never reach another in this case, or at least in my understanding.  When ever you know that you are going to make X dollars till the union renegotiates a contract, it is pretty much asking for you to not try any harder, not learn more, not be more productive.  Sure some people will work hard because they care about their job, but I am thinking that would not be the norm.
       
      A merit based system isn’t a tiered system, unless you consider a huge amount of tiers a tiered system.  At least in a merit based system, there is a way to work harder, do more, get rewarded for it.  If you don’t work hard, nothing good will happen to you.  I think a lower starting wage that is increased based on performance is much better way to go.  Much better way of keeping employees motivated.  Also, it is a way to tell employees that they aren’t doing enough.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      @Steven02
       
      “What I was saying is that there is no incentive to try harder with a tiered system.”
       
      What you argue sounds like it should be true, but in practice it doesn’t work that way. In more realistic terms, a 5% or 10% bump up in pay does not ever yield a 5% or 10% bump up in productivity. Pay cuts also have little effect. When the airlines negotiated cuts to their employees’ pay, the airlines did not experience a commensurate decrease in worker productivity. Contrary to what logic or an economics class might lead you to believe, the pay differential does not explain the differences in productivity between the individual employees nor does it explain the effect on aggregate productivity.
       
      I agree that the two tier system the UAW concocted is problematic and its obviously making the Tier 2 employees unhappy. However, concerning productivity, eliminating the two tier system is unlikely to have a significant effect.
       
      Boeing front line employees are paid insanely well, work hard and that poor company is still so screwed up its cringe worthy. Motivating people to do really good work requires a lot more than just throwing money at them.

    • 0 avatar
      itsgotvtakyo

      @Buickman- What gives you the impression that barely skilled line workers have a “right” to support a family with their wages? When it comes to income nobody has a “right” to anything in this world. Your highschool education might have paid the bills in 1970 but it’s a different world today and you have a “right” to exactly the wages the market dictates they earn. That’s why myself, my peers and a couple generations before us got real educations so we could earn real money based on merit and not a fabricated sense of entitlement. Excuse me but I don’t think anyone that holds a job a retarded person could be trained to do in two weeks has the “right” to anything. There are people in this world that make a lot more money than I do, most make less. I’m okay with that because I’m confident in the fact that every dollar I earn is merit based and has absolutely nothing to do with membership.

  • avatar
    kitzler

    OK so maybe $14 an hour is not enough, but your article forgot to add the perks, like hospitalization, vacation, sick leave, etc.  That would probably bring the hourly rate closer to $30, and for the other brothers who are making $28 or more, who knows what the perks bring the total to.  As much as I would like to keep my money in this country, I also feel those union guys still have not learned their lesson, so it will be a while before I consider a Detroit product.  My neighbor got a Lincoln MKZ, but it was built in Hermosillo, Mex., I might opt for something like that instead of supporting a bloated hierarchy at the UAW HQ.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    For my own knowledge, what do the people at the Toyota San Antonio Truck plant make?  How about other plants in the south from other manufactures?  Not just looking for hourly information, but also in term of benefits.

  • avatar
    kitzler

    Steven 02 that is a great question, does anyone know the transplant hourly wage including bennies?  BTW, while many UAW workers were laid off or paid to leave, the UAW hierarchy continues to collect the same pay and benefits, just on the back of fewer workers, that means the strike fund has naturally been hit pretty hard and not just by striking workers!

  • avatar
    GS650G

    It’s a shame that 14 an hour is the fixed rate. Some of the jobs are worth more and a few less. in a real situation market forces would dictate what the wage is and better workers would get more. Eventually competition for good workers makes some people wealthy.
    This is how it plays out in other industries. I guess making cars is different.
    I see that video as proof they eat their own.

  • avatar
    carguy

    The two tiered wage system is unjust and bad for the industry as it in no way reflects job performance but only some arbitrary starting date. It should go and so should “one size fits all” wage rates that are collectively bargained for. Pay should not only vary by job description but also by the employees performance – rewarding good work and not those that are performing poorly.

  • avatar

    the “let them eat cake” mentality didn’t work out so well in the past now did it? forget those in the “Soldout House”, real solidarity will rise from the people. “Look in their eyes Ma, and you’ll see me”. never underestimate your friendly Buickman.

    • 0 avatar
      Autojunkie

      Don’t ever accuer me of not being who I say I am. My father retired from the UAW after 35 years. One uncle retired after 25 years, and another passed away before he could reach retirement.
      I worked for 10 years as a trainer to the UAW and CAW. I gave respect and earned respect with every UAW person I worked with side-by-side.

      Things are not what they used to be. I lost my job becasue of the great recession. My entire department was cut. Based on my experience and education, I managed to find another well-paying job during our great recession. Many of my friends and family have not been so lucky the last two years.

      My father, the 35 year UAW retiree, thinks the 2nd tier wage would suit my brother just fine. My brother thinks it would suit him just fine. As it stands now my father supports him, and my mother, with his UAW (skilled trades) pension.

      My brother is single and has no family. He’ll thrive in the 2nd tier wage. Eventually contracts will be renegotiated and wages will increase. I have friends that DO support families on $14.00 an hour or less. Yes they struggle, but they all are aware it’s better than the alternative of being unemployed. They know damn well that there is NOTHING out there right now.

      As for your solidarity BS? Solidarity goes beyond the unions. How about the contract worker that shows up to aplant to do a job, that the UAW has nothing to with, but gets treated like crap becasue he’s a “contractor”? “Day took are jabs!” Yeah jackhole… That’s exactly why they are here so they can “take yer jabs”… ALL working class needs to stick together and not just this UAW BS.

      I could go on, but I won’t. It’s a moot point to argue with a UAW yes-man who gets told who to vote for and what to say. Solidarity does not mean a loss of free-will.

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    The people who do a good job should be paid more; those who are more productive should be paid more?  What?  These are line assembly workers.  The lug nuts put on by every worker are done at the same rate and end up at the same torque.  How do you differentiate between gears in a machine?  The gears together produce the product.  There are different wages for different functions, but the cogs in each function are interchangeable if this is a commodity manufacturing plant, which it is.

    No one has a right to a wage that supports a family; no one also has the right to a car that hasn’t been monkeywrenched by disgruntled people; or a society that isn’t constantly monkeywrenched by disgruntled people; and no one has the right to believe that the disgruntled will die willingly in the next war.  Large numbers of disgruntled people are not conducive to the head with the crown resting easy, and our country is heading in a direction where characteristics of the people in the US that make life what it is could disappear, only to be recognized later as essential to the kings.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      No one has a right to a wage that supports a family; no one also has the right to a car that hasn’t been monkeywrenched by disgruntled people; or a society that isn’t constantly monkeywrenched by disgruntled people; and no one has the right to believe that the disgruntled will die willingly in the next war.
       
      There are many non-union manufacturing plants that start people off working at $14/hr or less, I’ve seen nothing to indicate that their workers are “disgruntled” at a a greater rate than UAW guys making $28/hr.  Based on direct experience, US plants paying $12-14 an hour are absolutely capable of world-class manufacturing quality of complex precision-assembled electromechanical equipment.
       
      If a person is “disgruntled” because their assembly job starts at $14 an hour plus benefits, they are completely out of touch with the going rate for semi-skilled labor.
       
      Your comments about workers being interchangeable cogs in a machine make me think that you may not have much direct experience with manufacturing.  Even in the world of standardized work and externally controlled processes, it’s still easy to pick out and reward the best assembly operators.
       
      Have you ever worked in manufacturing?

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      I’ve managed production employees and have had to go into a screwed up work group and fix the mess many times. Pay is usually the least of the problems and has much less effect on raising morale and productivity than most people assume.
       
      Offering merit based raises and bonuses is not a magic bullet that all by itself will make a workforce productive. I’ve managed both union (equal pay within the same job title) and non-union (variable pay within the same job title) workgroups and haven’t found that non-union, merit pay workers are any more or less productive than union workers. You can get small improvements by messing with the pay structure or you can get huge improvements focusing your energy on other areas.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      djoelt1: no one also has the right to a car that hasn’t been monkeywrenched by disgruntled people; 

      No, but monkeywrenching a car produced by your employer is not a good long-term strategy when customers have the option of buying a vehicle that was not sabotaged by the employees.

      The employees could basically “monkeywrench” themselves right out of a job.

      Like it or not, GM, Ford and Chrysler no longer control 90+ percent of the market. It isn’t 1965 anymore…

  • avatar
    itsgotvtakyo

    I said this the other day but it bears repeating. I have no problem with Unions. I think protecting the rights of blue collar workers is not only admirable but necessary. In addition, I have no problem with blue collar folks making a good living; if a man’s skills are in demand than he should make an honest wage for honest work. What I do have a problem with are Unions being used as tools to leverage companies into paying dishonest wages for honest work. They’ve built a culture that suggests these people somehow have a “right” to make more money than their skills dictate and it has aided in crippling the economy. I’m not saying Unions are completely at fault- they’re actually one of the smaller problems- but they’ve definitely contributed. If you’re not happy with the wages your skills should earn on the open market then acquire newer, better skills. Simple as that.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Now that I have some time let me make some comments.

    As a retired GM Canada/UAW/CAW with 36 + years. I think I might have some more insight than the rest of you. That, and a poor education might explain my lousy grammer and crappy sentence structure. I can make my point, but not nearly as well as the rest of you. So bear with me.

    Okay…@Silvy_nonsense ..The UAW will always represent the former” big three” you can take that to the bank.
    @ MikeAr… Nobody, neither the leadership or the rank and file wanted “two tier” . It was forced on us. Lowering wages, and benifits,across the board,might have been the right, and proper, course of action. Politicaly…it was a no sell. Two tiered only got passed by 60%. Remember at the time there was 0% chance of anybody being hired.

    @ geeber.. As usual, your on the right track. The anti two tiered group/ soldiers of solidarity, are painfully aware,of the ramifications,growing from the two tiered system. Thier are just giving King a wake up call.

    @ Buickman….Dude…. I have nothing but respect for you,and if I was in charge of GM I’d make you marketing manager. Buickman….your way off, with the peed offed UAW worker impacting final quality comment. Technology,being where it is, the guy on the line has almost zero input to quality. Ask anybody that spent any time in a modern manufactoring system. Every move is done to a standard. Its management that sets that standard.

    @kitzler….Bob King CANNOT spend the strike fund $

    Moving on…@ Edward N….We in Canada seperated from the UAW in 1984.In short. We were on strike, and the UAW agreed to trade COLA, for profit sharing. We didn’t agree,and stayed on strike.
      Windsor transmission,St Catherines engine and Oshawa Fabrication were down. The rest of the corp could not run without us. “The fit hit the shane” GM caved to our demands….the CAW was born. Since then our wages and benifits have always differed from our U.S. brothers and sisters. They even made a Canadian movie “Final Offer” google it?

    Now we come to IMHO

     Bob King wants to return to the glory days of the UAW. Bob wants get the transplants on board . Then we can go back to picking a target company. The target caves,or whatever and the rest follow suit.

    Well….That ain’t gonn’a happen….The only way the tranplants will vote pro union is if Honda and Toyota swallow a stupid pill. Right now,the transplants are putting a “lets kiss the workers a$$” plan into place. I can’t believe how stupid King is. If your going to have any hope of making inroads into the transplants, why would you announce it to the whole f—ken world.

    My strategy would be….leave the transplants alone, forget about them. Let them do thier cost cuttting thing. Let the Honda/Toyotas workers know” if you guys don’t want us,fine,here’s my card,call us”  …..Why waste UAW money and credabilty?

     Bob King needs to retain whats left of the UAW.

    Bob King/Ken Lewenza and the UAW/CAW leadership…..needs to make dumping the” two tiered system”……….Number ONE priority…at any fuc–n cost.

     I think….make that, I “KNOW” thats what the majority of the active and retired want.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Bob King needs to retain whats left of the UAW.

      Absolutely not.

      No, King & Lewenza need to make organized labour relevant to the rest of the population.  They need to change the message, change the question from “Why are autoworkers making 1.25 x $X while I’m making $X” to “Why are we all making $X while the rich are making $X x 10^1 to $X x 10^4″

      Right now, a large chunk of the population has effectively no representation, not by the media, not in government and certainly not among the wealthy.  The liberal institutions that used to champion economic equality sold themselves out over the last thirty years**.  Organized labour can and should step into this void, and it should encourage those question be asked.

      What it must not do, but seems bent on doing, is fragmenting and chasing the needs of an ever-smaller base of clients.  It certainly shouldn’t be allowing it’s opposite numbers to frame the debate in their terms, which it’s certainly been doing.

      ** Have a read of Chris Hedges’ “Death of the Liberal Class”.

    • 0 avatar
      ixim

      + a zillion! Wow! Someone who actually knows what he’s talking about! Thanks, mikey!

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      Mikey, you make good comments.
       
      On a couple points, however, you are so full of baloney…
       
      Regarding the two tier wages you said “It was forced on us.” No it wasn’t. The employees voted for it. You could have rejected it and insisted on a more equitable plan with one, lower wage level that applied to all, but the greed of the current employees outweighed the concepts of fraternity and equality.
       
      And no, I can’t take it to the bank that the UAW will always represent the big three plants. In this very post you tell a story about how the Canadian workers chose to break away from the UAW. The Tier 2 workers have nothing but contempt for the Tier 1 workers and the UAW leadership that favored greed over equality. The Tier two workers will at some point be the majority in the assembly plants and they will be ripe for certifying another, less inept union as their representatives.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @ silvy_nonsense…and the rest of the B&B, that believe that the CAW/UAW threw the 2nd tier workers under the bus.

       Try this on for size.

      Take a group of 5000 people with the same profesion. It could be 5000 doctors or 5000 acountants maybe 5000 truck drivers. Or could be 5000 Auto Blog editors.

      Put them all in a hockey rink and give them this choice.

       #1 Everybody takes a 20% cut in pay and benifits.

      #2 Everybody takes a small cut in benifits. If we do hire anybody over the next 5 years ,the new hires will lose 35- 50%

      #3 None of the above, and you all we be out of work in the next 12 months.

       Now we will have a secret ballot. Vote number one, two or three.

       I ask all of you…How would you vote?

      So I don’t give a f— if were using 5000 car salesman,or 5000 brain surgeons.

      Number 2 would get 60% plus of the vote.

      The UAW/CAW is a long way from perfect. But beating us up for doing what anyone of you would do, is the height of hypocrisy

  • avatar

    Steven,

    thanks for your kind words my friend, but you must realize there are forces at work you may not be aware of…Soldiers of Solidarity, Work to Rule, and more. you’re right about supervision but don’t forget things like subterfuge and sabotage. there is a war going on between an incompetent and greedy management and a defenseless and victimized workforce. not all that happens will be able to be explained on a blog or in a conference room. just sayin’

    see Buickman on FaceBook

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      I feel bad for the auto workers losing their jobs to foreign plants, but then I read your comment about how proud you are of your petty retributions like working to rule and I lose all sympathy for you.
       
      Making yourself an unattractive employee just helps the cause of those poor folks down in Hermosillo, Mexico who would love to assemble some Buicks for sale up here in America. You are the architect of you own destruction. Not a really smart plan.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Far be from me disagree with you psar.  But for the short term shoudn’t King/Lewenza be using this time/era to regroup.

    The UAW/CAW is but a shadow of its former self.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The unions have been given a golden PR opportunity in the recession.
       
      80% of the population has been handed a requirement to belt-tighten and adopt “austerity” measures because 2% of the population—possibly not even people in the same country—grossly mismanaged the economy.  You’re a fellow Canuck, mikey, doesn’t it stick in your craw that we bailed out our banks, our very successful banks who turned quite tidy profits and didn’t really need much bailing out at all, because they were stupid (or more likely) greedy enough into debt markets that risked lowering their profits?  Doesn’t it get you even more annoyed that there was discussion of not backstopping your pension (quite some grousing, in fact), and that of your former colleagues, while no thought was given to bailing out banks or socializing corporate greed?
       
      Doesn’t it bug you that your pension was scapegoated while your and my taxes were spent to shore up the profits of Royal/TD/Scotia/BMO?  Because I can tell you it cheeses me right the hell off, even though I understand why it was done.
       
      Lewenza and, say, either of Michael Ignatieff or (especially) Jack Layton should be making political hay on that: channeling resentment over the socialization of corporate profits while we’re being asked to be “austere”.  There’s a lot of people who would and should flock to that cause.  People laid off, people forced to accept benefit or salary cuts.  People cut back to part-time, etc, etc.  Instead, these people are being gobbled up by protofascist right-wing populism backed by the kind of people who, quite honestly, both couldn’t care less about the general citizenry and hate trade unionism, or at least what trade unionism was and could be.
       
      Retrenching and falling back to the old guard does nothing but turn more people against the union.  Sure, there’s temptation to fall back to a secure position, but it’s ultimately self-defeating, fuelling anti-union sentiment that gets louder and more shrill.

    • 0 avatar
      cwp

      [i]Lewenza and, say, either of Michael Ignatieff or (especially) Jack Layton should be making political hay on that: channeling resentment over the socialization of corporate profits while we’re being asked to be “austere”.[/i]
       
      For the UAW to get any traction, they’re going to have to have a convincing story to tell on three major points.
       
      “Who’s this union run for?”  This is the easiest one, and it’s still not easy in the wake of the two-tier system.  Folks nowadays tend to think that unions are (a) corrupt and (b) run for the benefit of their leadership and long-term guys at the expense of the newer members.  If you want to attract newer members, that could be a problem.
       
      “What happened to the Big Three?”  The UAW needs to articulate a convincing argument that the problems of GM/Chrysler/Ford had nothing to do with them.  We can argue about the division of blame — management has made some horrible decisions that have stabbed all three companies right in the stomach.  But *all* companies have lousy management eventually (and these days it’s usually sooner rather than later).  If the UAW can make the case that management alone will torpedo the company faster than management + UAW, they stand to gain.  If they can’t make that case, a job with a company that’s in business is preferable to a better job with a company that isn’t.

      “We’d’ve been fine without the bailouts.”  If the UAW is planning to make hay over socialization of corporate profits, they’d better have one hell of a good argument to the effect that their workers would be in exactly the same situation if the federal government had not decided to bail out GM and Chrysler.
       
      Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have more job security (and I say that as someone who’s quit more jobs than I’ve been laid off from), better pay, and increased benefits.  But the UAW has a tough row to hoe to convince folks.

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    Haven’t worked in a manufacturing facility but I have designed, built, tested, and installed automated machinery that goes into factories and have trained the people that used them.  In this world, short of sabotage or intentional work slowdowns, the machine determines the production rate and quality.  Usually in this situation, workers tend to work at the same pace since it it pretty easy to see who is slacking.

    I was in another situation where I was working on a production line where we were each able to finish our own product and we each had our own tools.  I worked at twice the rate of the others (they were in a union, I was not) but I did not get paid more.  I was just more motivated and dexterous, so there was a clear situation where production personnel should be paid differently.

    Don’t underestimate monkeywrenching; how many people with house cleaners or other servants have brushed their teeth with toothbrushes dipped in  toilet bowls?  You can work for someone and be grateful for the job and also want to screw them, even if you are the only one who knows about it.

  • avatar
    Tommy Boy

    1) The public sector union members are doing well only in part thanks to unions.  They’re in a privileged position: the unions “elect” their management through campaign contributions and “in kind” support; that “management” is playing with other peoples’ money, which pays the public sector employees, who pay dues, which is recycled back into campaign contributions for said “management”; the government need not fear going out of business, nor competing with another entity; and when it needs more revenue it doesn’t have to go to lenders or customers in a voluntary exchange, it just raises taxes, runs deficits and/or prints more dollars.
     
    So the public sector employees aren’t doing well thanks to unions, but instead they and their unions are doing well thanks to public sector unionization being inherently corrupt. Heck, even FDR who passed the National Labor Relations Act was opposed to public sector unionization.
     
    As to the UAW, what is clear is that even after dodging a bullet (that it well deserved) — thanks to the corrupt bailout giving preference to the UAW, as engineered by the Obama administration, bankrolled by unwilling taxpayers — the UAW and its members, instead of thanking their lucky stars and laying low, are quickly going back to business as usual.  Solidarity House hasn’t gotten the memo from Realityville.
     
    Thus, ultimately, the UAW will drive its employers out of business (or at least into a genuine Chapter 11 reorganization).  The bailouts will only succeed in buying the UAW some more time, at the cost of tens of billions of taxpayer dollars.  The sooner the UAW-laden companies go out of business, the better, otherwise the UAW pigs will just keep coming back to gorge themselves at the taxpayer trough.

  • avatar
    itsgotvtakyo

    One more and I’m out, I feel like I need to take a shower after listening to a bunch of Guevara apologists. Barely skilled workers with high school educations don’t have a right to anything. This isn’t a class war, it’s a skill war. If your particular skill supersedes that of your peers then you should be paid more money, simple as that. This entitlement phenomenon is bizarre and really illustrates how out of touch with reality a lot of you people are. The fact of the matter is that nobody whose skill set begins and ends with fastening a couple of fixed points repeatedly deserves to make more than minimum wage. Thank your lucky gd stars you live in a country that “protects” unskilled laborers to the tune of 30k a year. Find a competent mate, double that figure, live within your means and have an okay blue collar life. Don’t hold corporations hostage because your education and abilities are limited. From what I hear you can live like kings and queens with 60k a year in a sh*thole like Detroit. Or, if you have a problem with that, go back to school (which will not doubt be subsidized by your precious union) and get a real job. Unions were created to protect tradesman from being taken advantage of, not to leverage corporations into handing out ridiculous wages for all.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    I don’t have much to add, except that I seek out the comments of psarhjinian.
     
    Always thoughtful and cogent. Cheers Mate.
     
    Anyone interested in why the USofA is broken should read The United States Of Inequality – it takes a bit of work over perhaps an hour’s reading, but it’s worth it.

    • 0 avatar
      itsgotvtakyo

      It’s only “broken” if you’re on the wrong side, chief.

    • 0 avatar
      PeteMoran

      @ itsgotvtakyo
       
      From where I sit (Australia), the USofA is circling the drain.
       
      Like I said, I seek out psarhjinian‘s comments ……

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      You’ll find a different vantage point to be helpful, and new reading material would be a good start.

    • 0 avatar
      itsgotvtakyo

      My man, this country has never existed to make things easy for everyone. Things are really tough for a lot of folks right now and I’m grateful I have job security and a hefty paycheck. You’re sorely mistaken in you thought everything in this country was just a cake walk no matter what. I’ve never been to your country but I bet it’s interesting, fascinating and enriching. But i also bet you have to work really fing hard to make a decent life for yourself and your loved ones, just like we do here.

  • avatar
    Omnifan

    The UAW complains about government, but then hides behind its cash.  Tier Two wages were created so that GM and Chrysler could get govt bailouts.  That’s the price of admission, brothers.
    Unions are just as guilty as senior management in the auto crisis.  How many stewards, committeemen, etc are on the payroll when a fraction of that number would do?  People who add nothing to the assembly process, people who get paid overtime for no value added, even caught on local TV drinking and getting haircuts on company time.

    • 0 avatar
      ixim

      The only thing the UAW has going for it this time around is the improvement in the fiscal health of the industry. That, and whatever voting strength its membership still can muster. I remember the widespread support unions enjoyed back in the day; the reversal of that backing, as seen here on TTAC and elsewhere is bad news for them.
      Anyhow, the merits of the arguments aside, the new UAW contracts will, as usual, be decided by the relative clout – economic, political, cultural, and image – of the two sides. I don’t see the union bringing home much new bacon.
      One day, a new middle class will be built here, meanwhile, the destruction of the old one will continue.


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