Did Detroit Kick A Sleeping Giant?
BusinessWeek's Ed Wallace thinks U.S. automakers– both indigenous and transplanted– better watch out for the UAW. While GM and Chrysler are dancing a jig over unloading retiree health care and cutting wages, he foresees aftershocks in a few years. Wallace points out that retired members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) don't get to vote on contracts. As active members (who voted for the two-tier wage structure) retire, as they're replaced with lower-tier workers, a "younger worker might well feel cheated and resentful, doing the same job for maybe half what someone else was paid to do it just five years earlier." Wallace thinks this
seething resentment wage and benefit disparity will combine with a backlash from transplant workers facing lowered wages to stimulate a UAW "comeback." In other words, the deal Detroit's celebrating today could bite them in the ass tomorrow– in, say, four years. Should they be around to experience the backlash, The Big 2.8 will claim they never saw it coming.
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