By on November 5, 2011

Despite UAW President Bob King’s insistence that the UAW is not riven with divisions, Chrysler’s latest union contract is inflaming intra-union conflict, as the Detroit News reports that the Autoworker’s Caravan splinter group is protesting the union’s decision to approve a contract despite being rejected by Chrysler’s skilled trade workers. According to Autoworkers Caravan’s Alex Wassell,

We voted down the tentative agreement. But they used a procedural loophole to ratify it. We think it’s a very bad agreement and a very bad precedent, and we’re going to do everything we can to overturn it.

King claims that the ignored skilled trade workers’ rejection of the new contract because

  It was overwhelmingly clear that the issues were economic issues and not skilled-trades issues,

And the Autoworkers Caravan seems to be wondering why that would matter: after all, the union isn’t allowed to do anything without membership ratification. In any case, the matter will be determined by the UAW’s public review board… which is exactly what Caravan’s Wassell wants. He tells the DetN

We want to go through a discovery phase and find out exactly how Bob King and the other leaders made that decision. We think it will show that it was just a rubber-stamp.

But regardless of how this particular dispute is resolved, labor issues are likely to drag on at Chrysler. With CEO Sergio Marchionne’s revelation that he wanted a single-tier payscale, and with a flat $22/hour rate proposed for all of Chrysler’s UAW workers, the UAW’s Chrysler reps are hunkering down. Kristin Dziczek of the Center for Automotive Research tells the Detroit News

It’s a very unhappy work force now. They got less, and they basically feel like Chrysler wants to continue to give them less. Chrysler workers are already saying, ‘Save your raises (for a future strike),’ and Mr. Marchionne is already throwing down the gauntlet for 2015.

Even King admits that Chrysler is a troubling bellweather for the health of the union. Though GM and Ford were relatively generous this year, that won’t last as long as Marchionne and Chrysler play hardball with the union. Says King,

They saw their sisters and brothers at GM and Ford getting a lot more money. Is everybody on the floor of the factory happy? Absolutely not. I’m not happy, either.

Nor should he be. On the one hand, he’s got to be responsive to the fact that his Chrysler skilled trade workers are up in arms, and on the other, he’s got to manage a Chrysler leadership team that has the motive and opportunity to break the union’s back entirely. As Chrysler’s VP for communications Gualberto Ranieri puts it

It was not because someone here won the lottery, and it was not generated by the automotive business. The recent history of Chrysler is not comparable to any of the other manufacturers, and you don’t need an MBA to understand this. What the company proposed, what the UAW negotiating team unanimously approved and what the majority of its members voted for is consistent with the situation at Chrysler. It will ensure that Chrysler has the means to grow and not put in danger its future.

In the words of one Chrysler employee, “it’s going to be ugly in ’15.” But the way the tension is building already, the ugliness could well boil over before 2015 negotiations begin. Chrysler is taking the most aggressive line with the union yet seen, and the UAW’s most experienced workers are already digging in their heels. Unless King, who is stuck in the middle, can find a way to keep everyone happy, the union could tear itself apart under the pressure.

 

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35 Comments on “UAW Group Files Grievance Against Chrysler Contract...”


  • avatar
    tuffjuff

    I’ll be lucky to get a $.50 an hour raise this year.

    Just sayin’.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      I took a 10% pay cut when I moved/changed jobs this year. I’ve had to tighten my belt and ended up selling my Mustang to improve my cash-flow. Frankly, I’m just happy to have any job in this economy.

      Meanwhile here in Ohio, the public employee unions are throwing a fit about the issue on the ballot next week that will require them to cover part of their retirement/healthcare benefits and institute merit pay. The Unions have been all over the airwaves claiming this will hurt your children’s educations, keep firefighters from saving your burning house and every other scare tactic in the book. It’s going to be their own undoing, though, because layoffs are sure to follow if they defeat the bill. The only winners will be their crooked union leaders.

      Fools. I have absolutely no sympathy for their “plight.”

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      These folks forget that there are thousands of Mexicans south of the border, part of NAFTA, more than happy to build them Chrysler cars over there, they already do some of them and engines too, so pleeeeeze just concentrate on building a better quality product, ps I’ve been working 2 jobs for the past dozen years and no raises at all.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    I don’t mean this to be a personal shot but be thankful that 1) you have a good paying job and that 2) you even got a raise.

  • avatar
    stirner

    FromaBuick6 & Lichtronamo are both right; everybody should have it as bad as them. They will gladly take an additional 25% pay cut once tuffjuff sacrifices in turn.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    On the one hand, the workers used to make I think I heard, $30 an hour, now Marchione want’s a flat pay of $22 an hour, that’s still quite a bit better than many of us make out there and it sounds like no matter what, the Union gets a cut of the pay. It don’t add up that regard.

    But the fact of the matter is, $22 an hour is a very decent income, not enough to make one rich, but decent enough. I know that to make $30K a year, it’s around $14.40 an hour so that should tell you what they would make even at $22 an hour.

    I’m lucky I have a job and won’t get a pay raise this year but might come next April and I don’t even MAKE $30K a year and I’m single and barely make ends meet as it is and I’m single and I’m also not living extravagantly, drive a 20 YO truck and I STILL pay less than what many one bedroom apartments are commanding here in Seattle currently.

    • 0 avatar
      damikco

      Im sorry but if you have never worked in a factory where as you are moving every second of the 8 to 10 hour shift and watch how the type of fast past and strenuous work takes its toll on your body you could understand way $22 an hour is peanuts. We have to have permission to use the restroom (if someone is available to releave you) and often have to wait about an hour to do so. This work is not like working in the office or bank teller where as you have personal time to stand in one spot and wait for the customer or some type of work. Workers are busy from the first second to the last during their shift.

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        Cry me a river. My job is fairly strenuous as well. So how many IED’s do you encounter bolting those cars together? As a Combat Engineer this was a fairly regular occurrence. Not much personal time on 18 hour missions in Baghdad. I am not complaining though. I love it. Wish I could ask permission to go to the rest room but all I have is a gatorade bottle in the truck. but I digress. Guess what I am saying is quit your bitching. If it’s too hard go make 7 bucks an hour selling jeans at the Gap.

      • 0 avatar
        damikco

        Thats great keep up the good work, and remember YOU volunteered to this.

  • avatar
    carbiz

    WEll, clearly they need a bigger raise – this poor guy can’t even afford a razor!
    My dad was a trucker, owned his own rig for years. Before that, he worked in heavy equipment in the construction industry. My sister is an electrician. I will never look down on the working guy/gal, but if these people can’t even shower or shave to go to work, it speaks to their attitudes about other things as well.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @carbiz…Yeah, not the dude I would of picked for on camera interview. However the two girls were nicely turned out, and fairly articuate.

      Here’s how it usually works. The news crews will take several on camera interviews. It all depends on the politcal point of view of the TV network. This piece was done by a socialist group, that would explain the nicely dressed well spoken girls. The unshaven, boder line articulate, slob should have gone on the cutting rooom floor.

      Now, if its a right wing TV network. Any autoworker thats well spoken,shaven, and nicely dressed,will never see the news at six. You will, however see the, the half drunk,yellow toothed,profane slob, with a ratty Tee shirt on.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I was reading a story about the development of the Plymouth Valiant earlier today. The big 3 were trying to respond to the growing popularity of European imports. They spent years and fortunes developing unique compact cars, and they rolled them out for the 1960 model year. The cars each had their own approach to driving VW, Renault, and the Brits back into the sea, and history has shown that Ford and Chrysler’s cars were ready for prime time from day one. The Corvair needed further development, but it was an interesting effort. Two years later, they’d halved the imports’ market share. They could have done better though, and made a bigger impact on the market, particularly the Valiant and Corvair. What stopped them? The US steel workers went on strike for 116 days in 1960, shafting all US industries that depended on them. This gave Ford the ultimate competitive advantage, as they had their own supply. By 1970, the unions had effectively ended US steel production as a serious industry. It is about time we find out what it will cost us to get rid of organized labor in all forms.

  • avatar
    mikey

    The skilled trades at Chrysler are not happy. Really? The production workers are not thrilled either. How about the second tier workers at GM and Ford? Lets take a poll,of the non union salary people. I’ll bet ya they ain’t doing back flips either.

    How about us retired folks,living on frozen pensions? $30 a month to help pay for our benifits,which are now being administered by the UAW/CAW.

    Fact of the matter is, my former brothers and sisters,active and retired are doing one hell of a lot better than many other folks out there.

    My advice, to the unsatified ,for what its worth, and Mr Marchionne take note, is… a deal is a deal,is a deal. . Suck it up, and worry about it in 2015.

  • avatar
    hifi

    Clearly these folks are out of touch with the state of Detroit, the automotive business and the economy. Yes, many people are earning less and expenses are going up. Welcome to reality! If you don’t like it, and you feel that there are better opportunities elsewhere, go find it. Chances are, if you can’t find another job, then you’re being paid appropriately or excessively now.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      These folks may be out of touch with reality but in all fairness there are a lot of people who make a whole lot more money per hour, or in salary and benefits, AND the work is much less strenuous than these UAW folks do.

      The UAW people may very well be overpaid for the work that they do since it has been proven time and again that other people in other places can make cars that are better and cost less than UAW-made cars. Even the American car makers started making them in foreign places.

      That doesn’t take away the fact that a lot of people in America make a lot more money and do a lot less work for their money. I do not believe for a moment that those people would do UAW work even if it was employment of last resort.

      In today’s America it doesn’t pay to take a job that pays less than $80K per year plus bennies. Take anything less than that and you’ll have trouble making ends meet just living day to day, or even getting qualified to buy a home with 20% down. If you use all your income just to live, you won’t have any left over to save for a down payment on anything.

      America’s economic policies are what got us to this point. Everyone can do it better and cheaper than we can, and so we live our life in Wal-Mart fashion.

      I say let the buyers choose if they buy UAW-made or non-UAW made. I believe most Americans will choose value over paying the UAW more.

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        And? Some of us work harder for less. We all make our choices and live with the results. Any UAW guy that hates his job sooooo bad is welcome to come with me to Afghanistan next year. now quityerbitchin.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Yeah, that’s why I say to let the buyers decide if they support the UAW by buying UAW-made vehicles.

        If they don’t support UAW demands for even more pay and benefits there are plenty of other choices to go around. Buy that instead.

        Still, you can’t blame the UAW-members for demanding ever more pay and benefits. At one time they had it all! They got paid outrageous wages AND didn’t have to show up for work. Job bank, anyone?

        If you get paid big bucks and don’t have to show up for work, that’s a pretty good gig. But UAW members will never be happy until they get paid as much as the CEO does. Parity!

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    I don’t understand this piece and video. Are the skilled trades at Chrysler on a 2-tier system also? I was under the impression that the 2-tier system was for line workers only.

    I also (mistakenly?) thought that skilled trades in the UAW had marketable skills. Weren’t skilled trades (like electricians / tool makers) paid well so they don’t jump ship??? Or, perhaps this recession killed most opportunities to jump…

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @ihatetrees…No, the trades guys didn’t go two tier. They do have marketable skills. However not too many ever jump ship.

      What does that tell you?

      • 0 avatar
        ihatetrees

        It tells me that the pay is good for the skilled trades at the domestic plants. That seems to be the case in upstate NY.

        But why are these guys upset at the contract? Do they consider the 2-tier system a problem for the company (even tho it doesn’t affect them directly)? If they do, I understand and sympathize.

      • 0 avatar
        damikco

        @ihatetrees We in the UAW are ALL brothers and no matter our position with the company we would like no one doing this type of work being taking advantage of. The entire country needs a dose of our brotherhood and togetherness.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        The entire country needs a dose of our brotherhood and togetherness.

        That’s crazy talk. And probably socialism, you pinko.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    It should be noted that driving behind these guys coming into the plant during the piece were driving mostly current-generation cars/trucks, and in the same breath bitching about pay. Just sayin’…

    I personally just took an $600/month pay cut at a job ive managed to hold for 9 years. The last time this happened I didn’t have a mortgage and ‘lived in my momma’s basement’. Couple this with my fiance not being able to find work since we’ve moved, and yeah, it hurts. WHO ISN’T IN THIS ECONOMY?!

    The reality is most people in the auto mechanics field in the Twin Cities would KILL for a $15/hr job, and my employer knows it. And mind you, this is significantly MORE skilled than bolting a fender onto a Crysler (purposely misspelled)200.

    Detroit is in trouble, and the UAW owning 1/3 of Chrysler doesn’t help in the eyes of the rank-and-file.
    Exhibit A: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/uaw-not-welcome-in-the-south/

    Unions were at a time very necessary in this country, but like typewriters and 33rpm records, are no longer. It is up to the individual to negotiate for themselves, and develop more skills/education themselves instead of paying someone else to do it. If you’re dissatisfied with your pay, DO SOMETHING ELSE.

    Rumor has it there’s about 15,000 jobs in the Bakken oil field in ND and MT. If these UAW types want to make more, they might want to check that out. Of course, that would involve, well, working. For 18-20 hrs a DAY. And have to give up their drinking/smoking dope breaks at lunch time.
    Exhibit B: http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/dpp/news/local/chrysler-workers-in-trenton-caught-smoking-and-drinking-during-lunch-breaks-20110713-dk

    Be thankful ya’ll have jobs AT ALL. I am.

    • 0 avatar
      damikco

      I dont see why the rest of the country do not go out and fight for a living wage, and fight to maintain it like we have. Seriously if you could “kill” for a $15 an hour job join together and press these CEO’s that dont have to worry about putting food on there table and not stressed about fuel prices because they are living of the money that should have been paid to the workers. America needs to demand better instead of saying that we are overpaid when in reality the average wage has been falling for the last 30 years along with our standard of living.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        If you want better wages, you have to bring something to the table to justify those higher wages. Just showing up every day and doing what you have always been doing is not, in and of itself, sufficient to demand a higher wage.

        And we have been demanding better – that is why vehicles from the transplant operations have been gaining market share over the past 20 years. The UAW simply isn’t giving anyone a reason to buy a Malibu instead of an Accord.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        If you want better wages, you have to bring something to the table to justify those higher wages. Just showing up every day and doing what you have always been doing is not, in and of itself, sufficient to demand a higher wage.

        The nature of assembly line work largely precludes this. When the work involves performing repetitive tasks, there isn’t much place to shine. The main talent is to be able to do the same work, day after day and year after year, before age, injury or illness catch up with you.

        The old labor contracts emphasize seniority because the main threat to the worker is getting old and sick. In craft industries, experience was valued because it affected the product. On an assembly line, which mechanizes human input, it’s almost the opposite, as experience doesn’t count for much when performing repetitive work, and age provides more liabilities than it does benefits.

        This isn’t a problem that is easily resolved. The line worker needs to accept the fact that he now competes in a global market, so the lower wages abroad will impact him whether he likes it or not. Globalization is not going to go away.

        We also have a broad choice of products, so if Detroit can’t build us what we want, then we’re not going to buy it, no matter how much the UAW may piss and moan about it. Bitching about the Japanese and resorting to bigotry is a fool’s errand — it didn’t work before, and it sure isn’t going to work now.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        If you want better wages, you have to bring something to the table to justify those higher wages. Just showing up every day and doing what you have always been doing is not, in and of itself, sufficient to demand a higher wage.

        Not true.

        Workers can demand a higher wage, and employers can decide to pay that wage, or not. Both sides can participate in a contract with a number of employees (which is generally a good idea when you’re talking a homogenous workforce in the thousands), or not, if the contractual framework allows.

        There’s nothing really wrong with bargaining.

        I’d argue that there’s also nothing wrong with collective bargaining, or at least that there’s nothing that isn’t equally inherently wrong with both collective bargaining and the idea of corporate personhood and LLCs.

        That said, employees can price themselves out of a market, and employers can facilitate a race to the bottom that results in no one being able to afford their goods.

        So, yes, workers can ask for more just for showing up, just as C-suite executives can. The difference is that the higher up the economic food chain you get, you have more clout. All workers have is their numbers. If it’s fair to exercise power and influence, it’s similarly fair to exercise numerical superiority, if we’re doing both in legal, humane ways.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Pch101: The nature of assembly line work largely precludes this. When the work involves performing repetitive tasks, there isn’t much place to shine. The main talent is to be able to do the same work, day after day and year after year, before age, injury or illness catch up with you.

        I would think that, under the Lean Production System, if the workers are making suggestions to improve productivity and the product, based on their innate understanding of both, this would ultimately result in more sales, and thus, more money for the line workers – both to keep them happy and motivate them to do more of the same.

        Perhaps I’m naive, but, to me, that is how line workers can add value to the product that will ultimately be reflected in better wages and/or benefits. If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that a healthy company really benefits everyone – workers, management, dealers and customers.

        Most people I know don’t care about the UAW one way or another. They don’t hate the union, but they aren’t going to go out of their way to buy a union-made vehicle, either. They buy what they like (and reputation of the manufacturer plays a large part in the decision). If the UAW and management work together to produce a better vehicle, it would seem to me that they will both win.

        We have two vehicles – a 2003 Honda Accord EX sedan (165,000 miles) and a 2005 Focus SE sedan (136,000 miles), and neither has displayed any serious problems. One was assembled by the UAW, the other wasn’t. Based on our experiences with both cars, we are planning to replace them with another Honda and Ford. The key is that we have really LIKED both cars, and have never had any major problems with them, and they aren’t falling apart now that the odometer has hit 100,000 miles.

        So, I don’t know exactly what Ford and the UAW are doing, but they need to keep doing it, so they will be rewarded with future business. I’m sure, however, that while management’s attitudes have changed, the UAW is also no longer pretending that it’s still 1935 or 1965, and it realizes that the workers must bring more value to the line beyond showing up every day for work.

        psarhijnian: Workers can demand a higher wage, and employers can decide to pay that wage, or not. Both sides can participate in a contract with a number of employees (which is generally a good idea when you’re talking a homogenous workforce in the thousands), or not, if the contractual framework allows.

        There’s nothing really wrong with bargaining.

        I have no problem with collective bargaining. The attitude seems to be, however, that raises are a given, no matter what. I’m saying that workers need to show increased value to the company in some way beyond showing up and doing what they have always done.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I would think that, under the Lean Production System, if the workers are making suggestions to improve productivity and the product, based on their innate understanding of both, this would ultimately result in more sales, and thus, more money for the line workers – both to keep them happy and motivate them to do more of the same.

        A lean production line does provide some room for individual initiative, that’s true.

        But ultimately, an assembly line is deliberately designed to commoditize labor. The goal of assembly line production is to eliminate as much human error as possible from the assembly of the product.

        Achieving that requires replacing individual initiative with consistent, repetitive processes that produce consistent results. It is nearly the polar opposite of craftsmanship — instead of the individual making most of the difference, the individual line worker makes virtually no difference.

        Collective bargaining was a logical extension of the assembly line. Since the individual doesn’t matter (and both he and his bosses all know it), the only way for the workers to improve their positions is to band together and speak with a unified voice. Competing against each other on the floor is useless; they’re better off if they understand how weak each of them is individually, accept that they are just cogs in the machine, and then act accordingly.

        The automakers can mitigate unionization by treating their workers well enough that they don’t feel the need to form an alliance against management. But ultimately, that requires the automakers to be competently managed, which often is not the case.

        As we can see from comments on this website, it’s quite easy for some people, particularly political conservatives, to actively scorn workers instead of respecting them. They not only want to dominate the workers, but they are inclined to insult and abuse them just for the sport of it — they disrespect the work, period. The us versus them attitude is the very thing that encourages union membership, and traditionally, that attitude has started at the top.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        It was easy for companies to be mismanaged because GM, Ford and Chrysler constituted an oligopoly from about 1953-79. An oligopoly that both line workers and management would probably restore in a heartbeat, if they could – never mind how bad it ultimately proved to be for everyone involved.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        I’m saying that workers need to show increased value to the company in some way beyond showing up and doing what they have always done.

        At the least, they should track cost of living.

        That said, by the measure of “showing up and doing what they’ve always done” equating to zero increases, someone should have been asking G. Richard Wagoner Jr. to return some of his wages back to his employer.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Two wrongs don’t make a right. And, at any rate, I doubt that anyone would argue with the assertion that the appearance of Alan Mullaly has changed things dramatically at Ford. He hasn’t just “shown up” from what I’ve seen.

  • avatar
    Habibi

    It is interesting that the gentleman interviewed missed the significance of owning 30% of the stock. It is an opportunity for the UAW to share in the success of the company, IF they can find the right balance between their near term compensation and the cost structure/long term health of the company.

    I wonder if this point is lost on all the rank & file at Chrysler?

    • 0 avatar
      acuraandy

      Apparently it is. And don’t get me wrong, I am NOT against unions, just those who game ‘the system’ and expect more money every contract for doing the same work and not expanding their labor usefulness.

      If one would’ve asked Steve Jobs if he would’ve paid someone to do the same job for more money regardless if they learned new skills or increased productivity to do the same job, he would’ve laughed in their face. Otherwise, an iPhone would cost about $5,000.

      Just sayin’…:)


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