By on June 14, 2010

UAW members picketed the UAW’s 35th annual convention, in Detroit. The union is highlighting the theme of unity, as dissatisfaction with concessions made over the last several years threatens to tear the union apart. Two-tier wages are the underlying threat to unity, but the union’s ownership of stakes in GM and Chrysler have many wondering whether the UAW can even represent its constituents properly. One longtime UAW activist, Gary Walkowicz of Local 600, is even challenging the UAW’s “prohibitive favorite” Bob King for the union’s presidency having successfully defeated recent Ford concessions at his local. Another activist was briefly detained yesterday for distributing fliers outside of Cobo hall. Detroit’s government-funded comeback was only possible because of UAW concessions, and now the fiestier locals want to roll those concessions back and bring back the “fighting union.” That won’t happen as long as the UAW’s VEBA fund owns such large holdings in GM and Chrysler, but once the IPOs are over and the union has dumped its stock, look for these activists to gain more power within the union.

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14 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: UAW On Strike Edition...”

  • avatar

    5-4-3-2-1: Welcome to the next generation of union greed killing the goose that lays their gold eggs.

  • avatar

    Can someone explain how the unions got partial ownership in GM without getting their contracts nullified/unwound?

    Seems like they did better than bondholders

  • avatar

    It is easy to agree to a 2 tier wage scale when there are no voting members in the lower tier. Now that we are starting to see the lower tier get populated, this is where it starts to get hard.

    Also, the UAW taking what amounts to ownership stakes in two of the oompanies just adds another layer of difficulty.

    The problem will come when the lower wage tier becomes a significant number in voting. When the UAW seems to be representing both your employer AND the old guys with the big checks, I wonder if some will think that it is time for a new union.

    • 0 avatar

      jpcavanaugh, if it gets to that point, it will get ugly. My thinking is, like the Ford stock warrants, the UAW VEBA’s will sell their stakes in GM & Chrysler at the earliest opportunity.

  • avatar

    If the ‘fighting union’ has their way, they’ll end up jobless, but can declare victory over the Man. Way to go.

  • avatar

    In Long Beach, CA Boeing employees that make the C-17 were picketing over their wages and contract. Someone please tell these people it’s not the 1960’s anymore.

  • avatar
    Tommy Boy

    What’s the UAW membership now, about 1/3 of it’s peak?

    Darwin would tell us that the UAW needs to become extinct, for clearly it is a stupid species that is unable to learn from experience!

  • avatar

    “One Ford” – The ability to build the same cars in different parts of the world (and with the collapse of the Euro, financially viable). $23 billion in cash (half you which could pay down debt. Also what would be required to move truck manufacturing to the non-union south or mexico.) As soon as plants start falling, the rest will get in line really quick (especially the ones that voted yes to the last concessions).

    GM and ChryCo – No strike clause, guess they can argue until enough of the old timers die and then they can just negotiate with the tier 2 employees that relace them which should work out quite well.

    Majority understand the situation, you have as many college grads on the assembly line as you do hardcore, we always got we wanted we’ll get it again, they won’t vote in an extremest.

    And it would probably take one law suit by a large ford shareholder to disqualify (or change to union/employer relationship) the UAW representing Ford workers.

    • 0 avatar

      No lawsuit, on Earth, by any shareholder could disqualify the UAW representing the Ford workers. American labor law is explicit in determining whether a union ever gets disqualified – a vote by those union members. Otherwise, nothing else can happen.

      Also, it would be difficult, given the national labor agreements that the Detroit Three have with the union,to get anywhere by moving plants to the nonunion south – they would still, per the national agreement, be UAW represented. Moving production to Mexico, on the other hand, is a whole other matter.

      Doesn’t mean anything, in any respect. UAW dissidents aren’t going to get anywhere in the union. The way the union is structured, the actual union membership isn’t voting for the union leadership, but rather a group of delegates that invariably gets stacked against the dissidents. If the dissidents get anywhere this week, it’ll cause an earthquake in Detroit. My belief if that they’ll make a lot of noise, get a bit of press, and then everyone will forget about them. As usual. What people outside of Detroit don’t realize, is that there’s been a UAW dissident movement in existence for over twenty years, and most of the loudest voices have either retired or taken buyouts, and in either case, they can’t vote. n fact, retirees really can’t be represented in contract negotiations, so their voices carry no weight either.

    • 0 avatar

      I have to agree with Len_A here. I have never heard of a provision in our labor law, or any court decisions, that call for the decertification of a union as the collective bargaining agent for employees as a result of a shareholder lawsuit.

      At this point, it should be obvious to everyone that the last bailout was a one-time deal, and if GM and Chrysler blow it again – or the union somehow cripples them – there is no appetite for another bailout. And that lack of appetite for another auto bailout isn’t limited to readers of the libertarian magazine, Reason, or listeners of Glenn Beck.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with your assessment, geeber – this bailout is/was a one-time deal, and if they can’t make after this, then I can’t see any more bailouts either. And I say that as a native Detroit area resident dependent on the overall health of the Detroit automakers, one who has been drastically affected by their problems, including my and my wife’s unemployment situation, and as the relative of several auto retirees and employees. Even I think this should be a one-time deal, but one thing I wish would happen, that I haven’t seen happen, is a restructuring of the auto parts makers, in such a way that another near collapse of any one automaker won’t threaten the ability of the other auto companies to get parts. The auto parts supplier base is still a mess, and union or non union status doesn’t seem to make a difference.

  • avatar

    Two tier wages are a wonderful workplace cancer. Good luck managing such a shop floor.

    I can sympathize with these younger workers. But they really need to be careful – there’s a lot of overcapacity in north America.

    An economic rebound could help with UAW product sales. Just hope oil doesn’t go to $120 a barrel and force people into Civics, Corollas, 3’s, and Elantras – where the UAW can’t compete.

  • avatar

    Simple solution.

    IF they don’t like the three tier system, eliminate the UAW, the middle tier, and make them all the lower tier where they belong anyway.

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