UAW Fires Back On Wage Parity

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
uaw fires back on wage parity

Yesterday, we greeted news that Detroit had reached wage parity with transplants by noting that it hardly makes the UAW look great in the eyes of its membership. Sure enough, UAW boss-in-waiting Bob King is firing back in today’s Detroit Free Press, arguing that a return to a 16m unit market would yield “astronomical” profits to GM and Chrysler. As a result, he said,

There was equality of sacrifice, there’s got to be equality of gain. It’s our responsibility to make sure that in that turnaround, our members are treated fairly

According to King, UAW members have given up between $7,000 and $30,000 per year in concessions, but wouldn’t speculate on the prospect of next year’s contract negotiations. Whether those talks will yield further concessions or a reversal in fortunes for the union depends on the economy and the membership, said King. On one point, he was less equivocal: when it comes to the one domestic automaker that the UAW doesn’t own a stake in, King and the UAW are maintaining a hard line.Before becoming heir apparent to UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, King was the union’s chief negotiator with Ford. Recently, King filed a grievance against Ford for restoring benefits to salaried workers without reciprocating to union members. And despite the fact that the UAW went to bat (symbolically, of course) for Delphi’s salaried employees when they lost benefits, and the fact that GM still pays its white-collar employees more than the transplants, King is still hopping mad about it. He tells AFP:I’m very upset with the situation (at Ford) where there were merit increases and 401K (retirement plan contributions). That’s wrong. None of that in my view of the contract should have happened without our membership, getting the same thing. Our membership made tremendous sacrifices. We had an understanding about equality of sacrifice. We’ve filed grievances on that and we’re close to resolving one piece of that.Again, GM pays its average white collar worker over $50k more than its average hourly worker, while the differential at transplants is about $10k per year… but the union is OK with it because it owns 17.5 percent of that company. Ford, on the other hand, is the bad guy. You have to imagine there’s a little nostalgia for the “good old days” of pattern bargaining in Dearborn right about now.
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  • Gardiner Westbound Gardiner Westbound on May 13, 2010

    Time to strike! The only good car company is a bankrupt one.

  • Bryan Kauffman Bryan Kauffman on May 13, 2010

    okay everyone. if you think UAW autoworkers are overpaid, then post your earnings here and we can decide if you are overpaid as well. I am sure we can find some benefits that we think you aren't justified in making. Without anyone posting, the first thing i would do is cut everyone's pay to minimum wage. you need to sacrifice for the good of your company. I don't care if you work for some wonderful company that is magically making money right now. Someday they won't make money and that's your fault because you are overpaid right now. Also, no more paid days off. That's an easy one. No more health care; another easy one. All of you are a bunch of hypocrites. You sit here and bitch about how those rotten workers screwed the company and that their pay should be cut. But when it comes to your own pay, you cry and cry about how you don't want your pay cut.

    • JeremyR JeremyR on May 13, 2010

      All else being equal, a company that has greater expenses relative to its competitors--be they cost of materials, labor, overhead, etc.--is going to have a harder time remaining competitive. Do you disagree? And if the company fails to bring those costs in line, its problems are likely to multiply over time. Do you disagree? I'm self-employed. My rate is set directly by the market--and yes, in "lean" times, that means a pay cut, or sometimes no work at all--which means I don't get paid. And if someone else comes along and offers to do the same work at a lower rate, I either get a pay cut or have to demonstrate that I provide higher value somehow. The wage I earn isn't some sort of birthright: If my skills become commoditized, then I should damned well expect my wages to reflect that.

  • TheEndlessEnigma $150k for GM build quality. $150k for GM parts and material quality. Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • Rusty The panther platform is one of the greatest vehicles platforms ever produced. This author is a moron.
  • Bullnuke It may be awhile before these show up on US shores. The MV Fremantle Highway has just started demo/reconstruction in Rotterdam after the large fire when transporting its last shipment of electric Porsche products.
  • Fie on Fiasler Big, fast and thirsty does not equal good. True luxury is not cobbled together by the UAW.
  • Inside Looking Out I see it as gladiator races - only one survives in virtual world.