Sign of the Times? UAW Votes Itself Out of a Job

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
sign of the times uaw votes itself out of a job

The Star reports that Magna International is closing its New York state New Process Gear plant after 52 percent of the plant’s union workers rejected a 20 percent wage reduction. The haircut would have pegged hourly salary at $16, and stipulated that the factory had to break even by July 1 (good luck with that). “The plant, which employs about 1,400 people, makes transfer cases to switch power from two- to four-wheel drive vehicles.” Make that made. Magna’s statement after the jump [thanks to cnyguy and Geo. Levecque for the links].

New Process Gear (NPG), a manufacturing division of Magna International Inc.’s Powertrain operating unit, announced today that the modified, tentative collective bargaining agreement put forth by UAW local leadership and NPG management has been voted down by employees of Local UAW 624.

The modified, tentative agreement was a second attempt to restore viability to the plant and provide a potential future for employees. As a result of the vote, NPG will initiate a closure plan for the site and begin transfer of operations.

“This was an extraordinary attempt by the UAW and the NPG management team to craft what could have been a truly competitive agreement,” said Tom Rucker, NPG’s general manager. “I am extremely disappointed that this agreement, which could have given NPG a real opportunity to survive, was voted down.”

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  • Cnyguy Cnyguy on Mar 20, 2009

    @50merc: The NPG plant is in New York, so I’m sure the UAW is the exclusive bargaining agent for the plant’s workers, and all the workers have to be UAW members (well, at least have to pay the dues). The union contract is all or nothing, in several ways. If New York became a so-called “right to work” state, here’s what could have happened: New York is a right-to-work state, however collective bargaining still trumps all. In the early 1990's I worked at the Magna plant as an outside contractor. The union control is incredible- I waited an hour for an union electrician to reset a circuit breaker. I was going to reset it myself and was told I would be escorted to the gate if I did. So we all sat around and drank coffee waiting...

  • Lw Lw on Mar 20, 2009

    Wow the closing of one plant evokes a flurry of comments ranging from Union work rules to outright class warfare. Guys.. Chill out... They are all either greedy morons (UAW and Mgmt) or we have enough transfer cases to last for a long long time and they had no hope of ever turning a profit. I just checked... Plenty of transfer cases for sale... Many places even offer free shipping... Don't fall for the class warfare BS... Life is what happens when your making plans. - John Lennon

  • Geeber Geeber on Mar 23, 2009
    Justin Berkowitz: That’s a circular argument. Government creates monopolies. Patents are created by the government. Therefore, the government creates monopolies. No, if patents are granted by government, then that is one way that governments can create a monopoly. As I said, by bringing up patents, you proved our point. Justin Berkowitz: My example about the FDA was offered to demonstrate the problem with the types of transitions pointed to as a good thing in libertarian economic philosophy. The problem with “eventually” changes take place or as you say “over the long haul.” In the meantime, people get screwed. That was my point in mentioning product safety. And the proof that government, after sanctioning a monopoly, will act any faster if problems occur, is found where...? If anything, government is now invested in the monopoly's continued success - the mantra will be we need the monopoly's jobs, tax dollars, etc. - so it has no more incentive to uncover problems than the company or organization itself does. Justin Berkowitz: Re: Monopolies, though — Sure government can create some conditions to make monopolies more likely. They also don’t have to. And neither does a true free market. I see no proof that a truly free market will ultimately result in a monopoly. That was a theory tossed out by some posters. Justin Berkowitz: But it seems to me that under libertarian circumstances, we don’t get to vote executives out of their offices. We don't have to. If other competitors are allowed to enter the market - which only government can prevent - we will buy their products instead. That is called "voting with purchasing dollars." This is how the Big Three's monopoly came to an end... Justin Berkowitz: Instead, we wait for what you call “the long haul” for someone to come along with a better product — and be able to actually offer it in the market and compete. What about in the meantime? And, as I said before, proof that the government will faster act to end a monopoly that it has sanctioned is found where...? Justin Berkowitz: I think you really shoot yourself in the foot with this one. In a libertarian free market society, there doesn’t have to be any net neutrality. That’s a government creation and enforcement. I never said that the Internet is neutral. (Media neutrality, by the way, is a myth.) And the idea that government will enforce effectively neutrality, or that it can be truly impartial, is naive, at best. On the internet, we can get information from SEVERAL sources and judge it for ourselves. And since most weblog masters are upfront about their biases - unlike the mainstream media - we can judge for ourselves their "angle" or slant in reporting news, or commenting on other news stories. Justin Berkowitz: So can’t the ISPs just block websites they don’t like? Maybe the ISP contracts with Firms to block any websites that criticize those Firms. Eventually maybe a non-blocking ISP starts up. (There’s that word ‘eventually’ again). Or maybe they just claim not to block websites, and people have no idea for a while what they’re missing. And it's extremely difficult to do this, because of the fluidity of the web and the difficulty of any particular company gaining that much power. Although I could see GOVERNMENT doing this. Justin Berkowitz: You can call your friend on the phone to tell them, right? Oh, sorry, phone calls are tapped by the phone company. Anyone that criticizes their client Firms gets their phone service terminated. You do realize that traditional landline phone service is provided by a government-sanctioned monopoly in every state in the union...? That's hardly an example of the free market run amok. And no cellular phone service provider has reached monopoly status, nor is it likely to. Justin Berkowitz: Abusive companies in a libertarian economy can do just about anything as coercive as the government can to the economy. As you say, eventually things may change. What about in the meantime? Everybody suffers the consequences. Abusive companies can't have you thrown in jail, or take your tax returns, or fine you. Unless, of course, they have government acting on their behalf. Which further proves my point.

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Mar 29, 2009
    Justin Berkowitz : not everyone is able to get an education or get what you call “marketable skills.” Some people are born into poor communities with bad schools. Others don’t have the ability to go to college because they need to get a job immediately to support their family. There was a time that being a skilled laborer was a marketable skill in the US. Well I'd concede that there are some people who are born with less smarts than typical college students and so their life options are very limited. Of course I have seen plenty of examples of people who sit on their *** claiming something is wrong with them. HOWEVER here are far too many of these people making excuses for the way their lives have turned out. Too many (any number is too many) expecting the world to provide for them. This is why I think we are in trouble here in America - less value (?) put on careful choices, personal responsibility and making the most of a person's education opportunities. Too many folks making bad choices over and over again. Opportunity costs... Costs of their choices (cars, clothes, entertainment, etc) eliminating any budget they might otherwise reserve for school or the collatoral costs of going to school. ANYBODY in this country can go to school if they want to. All it takes is careful (not hard me thinks) choices. Don't run with the wrong crew. Don't get arrested. Don't get your girlfriend pregnant, don't waste your cash on dumb stuff, etc. Then go join the military. Work hard. Opt into the GI Bill or do so well that the military will send you through OCS. That is a version of how I did it. High school grad. Joined the USN, gave them six years, stayed out of trouble, saved some of my $15K per year pay, got out with some tools and a $3K car and worked ~$8 an hour jobs (sometimes working AND mowing yards AND going to class) while going to college, collected my GI Bill, and eventually graduated from college with a good engineering job connected to the auto industry. Left that for a better job to get away from the auto industry before it failed (thanks for the warning TTAC) and I was out of a job. Several former coworkers from that company got laid off recently so I dodged a bullet... Also - pick a good wife that is reliable. Mine has worked just as hard as I have to provide an income. Divorces are expensive I hear. People have a weird set of priorities these days. We're all paying for it now (literally). Maybe people have ALWAYS had weird priorities and we are just now more connected than ever before. Dunno 'but that part. Plenty of other people here making very valid points.