Unraveling The UAW Job Bank

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
unraveling the uaw job bank

As we attempt to understand the UAW’s Job Bank program, and whether or not their reported suspension of that program is a meaningful concession, we’ve been looking for information on it. Unfortunately, as a somewhat outdated but highly informative report from Carlist explains, the details of the Job Bank are kept under wraps by the Union and automakers for “competitive reasons.” In fact, when asked why GM publicized its health benefit and pension obligations but not its Job Bank information, a GM spokesman said “that is public information that can be found in our financial statements, job banks isn’t.” In the absence of public information on the program, the original terms of the Job Bank agreement from 1987 (leaked to Carlist) are all we have to go on.

According to that document, the basic guarantee from the 1987 agreement is that no eligible employee will be laid off over the term of the agreement, except under the following specific circumstances. 1)Reduced customer demand, a maximum of 42 weeks over the life of the agreement (commonly known as loss of marketshare); 2)Acts of God or other conditions beyond the control of management; 3)Conclusion of an assignment known in advance to be temporary; and 4) Plant rearrangement or model changeover.

Eligible employees can not be laid off because of new technology (robots), sourcing decisions, or company-implimented efficiency actions. There are generally three states of layoff: temporary layoffs where workers know their return date, indefinite layoffs where workers get 48 weeks of unemployment benefits and a supplemental from their employer equal to 100 percent of your salary. After 48 weeks workers are reemployed by the Job Bank, at which time they receive 95 percent of their salary. They don’t get seniority, but they do continue to receive health benefits. While in protected status, employees may be assigned to training programs, certain non-traditional jobs, openings at other UAW locations (they only have to accept them if the job is within 100 miles of their home, otherwise they can stay in job banks), and other assignments “consistent with the intent of the program.”

More context comes from former UAW worker and Research for Center for Automotive Research VP, Sean McAlinden. “The UAW was trying to prevent outsourcing,” he explains. “They believe that profit is something you negotiate – something that is shared. the job banks part of the contract is about 100 pages of an over 500 page contract. In 1987 there was $2 Billion guaranteed for the project, by 1990 it was fully funded. It was thought that Lloyd Reuss was fired because of the spending on the job banks. People are protected, but not the jobs. When a person retires their job is eliminated. Job banks don’t protect the UAW. The UAW is down by 57 percent. Back in 1985 General Motors had 464,000 union members, at that time they were as big as the U.S. Army. At the end 2004 General Motors UAW members were down to 111,000 members; a 77 percent decrease in membership.”

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  • on May 06, 2009

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  • on Feb 17, 2014

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