Autumn 2015 will be a big moment for the United Auto Workers, as the union prepares to negotiate new contracts with the Detroit Three, with the aim of improving pay for both Tier 1 and Tier 2 members under conditions that weren’t there in the year prior to the Great Recession.
The Detroit News reports the UAW wants the Detroit Three to give Tier 1 employees the first raise since 2007, as well as add more jobs to the factory floor. Meanwhile, the union is also facing pressure to improve the financial state of Tier 2 employees, who earn less than those grandfathered by the 2007 contracts, with benefits to match.
On the other side of the table, the Detroit Three want to reduce pension costs among those on the floor as they had with those who retired. GM and Ford offered buyouts for employees who agreed to forgo future benefits, while Chrysler froze its plans for 8,000 salaried employees in 2013.
Outside the conference room, Michigan’s right-to-work law will give current union members and new employees the right to not be a part of a union. That said, UAW president Dennis Williams says members in other right-to-work states have remained members despite the option to opt-out, and won’t focus all of his energy on this issue.
As far as striking is concerned, Williams want to avoid using that option “unnecessarily,” but does want the Detroit Three to know that his membership “have sacrificed,” and that new members “want a higher standard of living.” The union recently raised dues 25 percent to replenish its strike fund — having fallen to $600 million — to remind companies how serious the threat of work stoppage can be.
Finally, the UAW will continue to bring aboard transplants in the Southeastern United States, like those working for Volkswagen, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz, as well as suppliers, employees in the gaming industry, and those in higher education.