By on May 13, 2008

fender.jpgThe AP [via Yahoo] brings news that the UAW local representing GM's Ontario, Ohio metal stamping plant has given notice of their "intent to strike" this Thursday at 10am. Ontario makes hoods, doors, fenders and floor pans for several GM cars and trucks. Previously, GM plants in Warren and Grand Rapids threatened strikes but settled at the last moment. The UAW workers at Lansing Interiors, however, made good on their threat; the supplier's been on strike almost three weeks, pulling the rug out from under GM's Lambda crossover production (Outlook, Acadia, Enclave). Is the United Auto Workers (UAW) subjecting GM to a death by a thousand cuts? What's the point of negotiating a national contract if every plant covered by the agreement goes out on strike over "local issues?" Union Prez Big Ron Gettelfinger says that the Ontario and other strike threats "are about local contract issues and have nothing to do with American Axle." Yeah right. Most analysts see the GM strikes as an attempt to keep GM's feet to the fire, to force the automaker to bail out/buy out American Axle's union members. Whatever the reason, it will be a long time before GM starts making trucks again. In case anyone's wondering.

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31 Comments on “Three Strikes and You’re Out: UAW Threaten Another GM Shutdown...”


  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Do these people even have a clue as to what they are doing? Another sign of the deplorable state of education in this country that they can’t figure out the basic economics of the situation and see the hand writing on the wall.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Lumbergh21, they have to destroy the company to defend their jobs.

  • avatar
    Raskolnikov

    As much as I want to see our hometown automakers succeed, I’d almost applaud a bankruptcy if it permanently did away with these guys.

    Talk about kicking someone while their down…..

  • avatar
    mel23

    I doubt very much this is being done without the approval or even initiation from the national union. So I think they know what they’re doing, although I don’t.

  • avatar
    jaje

    Don’t for get the Fairfax, KS strike that makes one of the few cars that GM can sell with little incentives (well for GM incentives below $1500 cash back). The biggest game of chicken since the cold war – UAW and GM.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Hey folks we are just playing, follow the leader.
    Rick W gets a 33% increase,that sugests to me that the companys doing quite fine?
    There is obviously no sacrifice at the top.Why to f–k should the bottom take a shit kicking?

  • avatar
    Patrick

    Another sign of the deplorable state of education in this country that they can’t figure out the basic economics of the situation and see the hand writing on the wall.

    Agreed. The sad part is that the work rules and fringe benefits that most strikes are over are very inefficient ways of putting money in workers’ pockets.

    What is the promise of a dying company to pay benefits 20 years from now really worth?

  • avatar
    Samir

    Hey folks we are just playing, follow the leader.
    Rick W gets a 33% increase,that sugests to me that the companys doing quite fine?
    There is obviously no sacrifice at the top.Why to f–k should the bottom take a shit kicking?

    Tone at the top – so critical.

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    Mikey: you oughta ask your brothers at LTV Steel and Bethlehem Steel, how that worked out for them. Back in the day, steel labor relations mirrored the auto companies. But overcapacity, downward price pressure for the products and inability to contain costs (sound familiar?) KO’d most of North America’s steel companies. LTV was shut down for a year before Wilbur Ross scooped them up (along with Beth and Weirton)and flipped them, and now they are owned by an outfit (ArcelorMittal) who’s headquarters is a castle in Luxembourg and is run by one of the world’s wealthiest men, Lakshmi Mittal. Believe me, Rick’s salary wouldn’t pay Lakshmi’s bar tab…. You SURE you want to follow this path? I’ts the one you are on.

  • avatar
    CarShark

    Don’t bother Captain Tungsten. Apparently in UAWland, two wrongs actually do make a right. In the real world, however, it makes for MAD.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Mikey,

    I will believe you that this is about executive compensation when I see that the UAW is offering to call off the strike if the executives give up their raises.

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    Mikey,

    I’m totally in agreement with you. Why should the UAW be chastised for striking for better pay when executives, seemingly, get paid huge sums regardless of the result? At least at Asian auto companies, they treat their rank and file fairly and pay their executives modestly. When Carlos Ghosn was trying to save Nissan he put his job on the line, which, in turn, bought the co-operation of the Japanese unions and why not? You make a sacrifice? We make a sacrifice.

    A lot of rubbish is talked about the American/Canadian Unions (I know I’ve said some of it myself!), but managers are supposed to lead by example and the example being demonstrated is that the company is fine because Rick Wagoner was awarded a 33% pay increase. So why should the rank and file be left out…..?

    Because they aren’t the ones wearing suits?

    You cannot award yourself huge sums of money when the company is in bad shape and expect the co-operation of the blue collars to make sacrifices. That’s not laws of economics, finance or business. It’s just common sense.

    Captain Tungsten, ArcelorMittal is headquartered in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

  • avatar
    timd38

    Give the jobs to people that want to work…

  • avatar
    Mcloud1

    I don’t know why you guys are so critical of the UAW. They are just trying to put food on their tables. If Rick Wagoner knew what he was doing, and if GM built competitive products, they wouldn’t be in the financial mess that they have been in for the past two years. The only people to blame for GM’s woes is Wagoner, Lutz, and the board of bystanders.

  • avatar
    Sid Vicious

    Just the other side of US-30 from this plant is a giant hulking steel mill that has had labor issues forever. The union was locked out for literally years. To them no pay check was better than some pay check.

    The union rented out full size bill boards during the strike/lockout that advertised the “Scab of the Week.” Actually had the replacement workers name and face up there 20 feet high. Nice.

    The parallels between the steel and auto industries are just scary.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    These strikes are ridiculous and will destroy both GM and the UAW, but I gotta agree with mikey. Rick Wagoner taking a huge raise sends the clear message to employees that things are going great and its time to get while the getting’s good.

  • avatar
    barberoux

    So they strike and they can’t build trucks. Who cares? Trucks aren’t selling anyway. This way they can reduce excess capacity and sell current trucks at a good price since they are scarce. Who is losing? Unions will strike their way out of a job. Their reputation worsens with each strike giving other manufacturers in other states fodder for anti-union propaganda. Even if GM goes belly up tomorrow the executives won’t lose. The company, like many American companies, exists for the enrichment of executives. Workers are stealing precious food from the silver spoons of the bean counters. Strike and get as much as you can before GM closes. The executives don’t care why should the workers?

  • avatar
    menno

    Mikey, we all feel for you and all the other folks in the auto industry who work for your daily bread and are being shafted from two directions; GM and the UAW/CAW. I see it up here in NW Michigan; a friend of mine works for the sole remaining car parts plant still up here (Tower, which went Ch. 11 and came out of it). He took a $5 per hour hit to his wages, went back on the line foregoing a hard-earned promotion in order to keep a job, and now is getting zero overtime. He can’t make ends meet, and is using savings to pay to get his full sized GM van back & forth to work. He’s using food pantries to ensure he & family have enough to eat.

    Gas just went up 13 cents a gallon yesterday, to $3.99, here. And some foods have gone up in price 33% or more, and in fact, I could not even find bulk rice when I went to the store the other day.

    This is going to get ugly.

    Perhaps the wealthy who think they are worth a 33% pay raise should try a little humility and see how it goes trying to live on the wages they pay folks, without access to credit or savings or friends monies, for a couple of months. Nothing like walking in someone else’s shoes for a few miles to find out the facts of life, is there.

    Of course, it’ll never happen.

    My last pay raise was 5%, which is 1/3 of the true approximate inflation rate (looking at the real world, not the lying stinking b*stard government fiddled figures which exclude energy and food – yeah I can do a household budget without energy and food – NOT). Imbeciles. Think we’re all stupid and can’t count, I guess.

  • avatar
    Orian

    Mcloud1,

    This isn’t about putting food on the table. If you look at the UAW/CAW’s demands they are far outside of the realm of manufacturing now. Yes, GM’s management sure as hell should not be getting the bonuses and salary they are getting for under performing, but at the same time the UAW/CAW are demanding more for themselves and not looking around to see that the rest of the world has changed – salaries for manufacturing are not all that high, nor are the benefits. It’s like both the union and the big three’s management live in a fantasy world and none of them realize that world is about to end very abruptly.

    Talk about the me mentality on both sides of the argument. Me me me me…no jobs for all when the dust settles. Good strategy there.

  • avatar
    william442

    If any of you are wondering what is happening here,go visit Youngstown, Ohio.

  • avatar
    Rday

    But what does GM have to pay the laid off workers at all of the plants? If they continue to pay their full wages, then this strike is ‘expensive’.

  • avatar
    daro31

    One thing that UAW and CAW workers should realize, is that they are black listed for future employment opportunities in the field they know best. Even if you are one of the 80% of guys who believe in a fair days pay for a fair days work and are not to keen on your union involvement you will find your union card to be a hindrance in seeking new employment. 15 years ago I was the management representative on the worker relocation committee trying to find jobs for 120 men displaced when our plant closed. Although it was not automotive it was CAW and the plant closing was in the newspaper, with the broken window and bent gate pictures. I was told by one HR manager not to waste my time with any local manufactures because they had all circulated the word, don’t touch the guys from that plant. I did find my next job from that management rep job, in an automotive parts company. I tried really hard to get a couple of the fellows who worked for me into my new plant as we were growing like crazy. Even 5 years later I could not get one of those men a position in a plant with 2000 employees, it was a non-union plant. About 5 years ago the CAW got into that plant, it was a good relationship with the union, no bad press and nothing about the union representation has led to its closing. It will be all closed up this coming July and I was able to move on to another Quality position in a new plant close by which is non-union. We are getting a CMM machine from the previous plant and I was asked about the condition of it. I told them it was a good new machine grab it and be sure and see if you can get the operator with it, she is excellent. Exact words from the HR manger here, “We don’t want any of that union influence in here”, don’t even suggest it. So when you read that an auto plant is opening along with its feeder plants in your area and you think that oh well it is just losing one employer and getting another, believe me it isn’t jobs for the displaced Union members.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Has anyone noticed that these recent labor actions all involve one company – GM?

    Did Ford get lucky and only hire the docile UAW members?

    Does Ford spike the water in its plants with mind-control drugs?

    Or do Ford UAW members worry that their job actions may put the Ford family on food stamps?

    Or could it be that, when it comes to labor relations, Ford is a better managed company?

    I’ve been critical of the union before, but when all of the actions involve ONE company, there is something else going on here beyond stubborn, out-of-touch UAW members trying to pretend it’s still 1965.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Let me tell you guys how it really is.

    There is no difference between unions and service vendors as far as management is concerned. They no longer really see the union workers as employees they must lead.

    The union to them is simply a vendor with special legal powers. It is management’s duty to get as much work for as little money as possible out of them. If it were a non union company, then they would be able to get better value out of the workers by taking on a more partnership approach, but in most, if not all union situations that is impossible anyways.

    Inevitably, managers will stop seeing union employees as employees at all. Any ability to reduce costs at the expense of a vendor is usually used, and rewarded. Nowadays, the same goes for the unions.

    Waggoner doesn’t deserve a raise, but his raise is not at the expense of the workers. It is at the expense of the stockholders who should fire him anyway. Using management as a whipping boy to excuse ridiculous behavior won’t fly. It’s not like they are having a hard time finding people to fill UAW jobs, yet they constantly angle for more of everything.

    The UAW leadership needs to reflect on the wisdom of using the kitchen as a bathroom. Because that’s what they have been doing for a while now. Soon, there will be no place to get their meals.

  • avatar
    Raskolnikov

    @ Rday,

    Striking workers don’t get anything from the company. They get ~$200 per week from the UAW strike fund.

    However, if the company lays them off then they get ~90% of their pay.

  • avatar
    netrun

    @Raskolnikov & @Rday

    This is precisely why my inner cynic believes that the UAW is striking to help GM because it saves them a ton of money compared to shuttering the plant. With pickups not selling, getting more plants to strike saves GM millions.

  • avatar
    menno

    Well, netrun, your statement almost seems to be logical and makes some sense.

    Hence, being on planet earth as we are, I have to conclude that it therefore cannot be…

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    netrun,

    Interesting. While I admire your cynicism, I think it’s not really working that way. It could possibly be that there is someone in the UAW that is smart enough to think that up, but why make the AA guys strike and lose money over it. Would the AA guys go along?

    Don’t you think that if GM asked to shut a plant temporarily, while paying 90% wages to the UAW guys that they would go for it? If they did the math they would figure out they are ahead at 90% and no expenses for working (commute, laundry, lunch, etc.).

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    This is precisely why my inner cynic believes that the UAW is striking to help GM because it saves them a ton of money compared to shuttering the plant. With pickups not selling, getting more plants to strike saves GM millions.

    That only makes sense if the people calling for the strike are in GM’s pocket, which doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

    I also think that GM management is killing the company. That doesn’t mean what the union is doing is intelligent though.

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    @Katie re: ArcelorMittal HQ

    uh, no….

    http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2007/01/21/stories/2007012100240600.htm

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    Captian Tungsten,

    I got mized up. They’re TRADED on the Amsterdam stock exchange.

    My apologies.


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