By on August 14, 2010

So there’s this huge metal stamping plant in Indianapolis. The current owner wants the workers to accept huge pay cuts so that the plant can be sold off to another buyer. The plant is a UAW shop. What does the UAW do? Paint picket signs? Threaten strike? Chant “solidarity forever?” Threaten to bust the rotten deal if the working stiff has to pay for it? Not this time. The plant in question is a GM plant. Through their union’s health fund, the UAW owns a good chunk of GM, and every owner of GM wants that stamping plant deal to close ASAP. There is an IPO in the works.

Three years ago, GM put the Indianapolis plant on its 2011 closing list if no buyer was found. This spring, Norman emerged as a buyer and made lower wages a condition of the sale.

In summer, Local 23 members had voted against bargaining with Norman. “But the UAW head office in Detroit opened talks on its own with General Motors and the Chicago-area buyer,” reports the Indianapolis Star. According to the paper, union leaders in Detroit negotiated pay cuts of almost 50 percent.

Longtime Michigan union dissident Gregg Shotwell writes in his online newsletter, Live Bait & Ammo that this might be just the beginning: “As soon as the domino falls in Indianapolis, Bob King’s henchman will be knocking on other local union doors and demanding wage cuts.”

UAW Local 23 members will vote Monday on a new labor contract that would drop wages if JD Norman Industries buys the huge plant. The contract would be with Norman Industries, not GM. If the deal doesn’t close, GM will close the plant.

Maybe that’s the solution: Non-union plants should invite the UAW and give them shares. The high production costs will be gone immediately.

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15 Comments on “And The Union Makes Us Strong: UAW Demands Lower Wages...”


  • avatar
    dwford

    And this just cements the fact that the UAW is only interested in maintaining dues paying jobs at any cost, and is not concerned with the well being of its members. I could see the membership voting no, preferring to take unemployment vs a 50% wage cut.

  • avatar
    tced2

    I live in Indianapolis. One of the interesting news stories a few months ago is that the plant is staffed with a number of “GM gypsies”. These folks move from (closing) GM plant-to-plant and demand the higher wages. They don’t care if the plant is closed by the demands – they’re moving on to the next GM plant – where they must be hired because the UAW requires it. There are some local folks who are worried that these demands will close the plant – the city will be left with a closed plant and the gypsies will move on.

    There is also a local UAW organization versus the national organization angle. The local is hard set on the higher wages. The national UAW leadership is in favor of wage concessions (because it keeps union membership numbers up?).

    Maybe this plant-to-plant transferring is coming to an end because of the GM bankruptcy?

    • 0 avatar
      2009Refugee

      I don’t think it’s a case of ‘just give us the dues.’ My own perspective (and it’s a bit of a soda-straw view), is that the main concern of the UAW is getting as many of the old guard across the finish line unscathed as possible. For those not connected to the old guard . . . well, good luck with that.

      Everything in the bailout, and the buyouts beforehand, involved keeping an individual with 20+ years whole – through to the mortuary. One item I always found interesting: some of the sweetest buyout deals went to the less-than-10-year population. Again, it’s a soda-straw, but I couldn’t help but notice that a sizable chunk of that population was the offspring of, yup, the 20+ year crew. So, theoretically, no worries about Junior and family moving back in and making a mess of Mom and Dad’s Golden Years.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the gypsy crew mentioned in your comment are the ones the national, for lack of better description, voted off the island. To the national, they are now an obstacle – and they will be dealt with as such.

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      The national UAW leadership is in favor of wage concessions (because it keeps union membership numbers up?).

      The national UAW is part owner now. They’re looking out for their stock. If some select plants/workers get the shaft, so be it.

      I’m surprised the cuts are 50 percent – staying competitive with the transplants shouldn’t require that much of a cut.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      The UAW is not part of management of Motors Liquidation Corporation – owners of the Indianapolis Metal Plant.

  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    Asa Ex Union Member(not in USA) I find this whole article about the UAW pretty unreal, only in America eh?

  • avatar

    Solidarity is more than a word, or a song. headed to dinner. more about this tonight from your friendly Buickman. thanks for the tune dude. :)

    yeah…we’ll have us a “Seeger” session.

    jd

  • avatar
    tparkit

    The devil is in the details; look for government bridging to make the deal work by keeping the long-timers whole. Look also for long-term contracts to keep the plant’s buyers whole. This deal will float on taxpayer cash and guarantees, funneled through multiple conduits. Unlike NUMMI, there’s no Toyota here for Ray DaHood to shake down for $250 million, so the rest of us will pick up any slack.

    Think of it like Section 8 housing. Washington puts slumlords in business, and guarantees them an income – paid by the taxpayers – to give housing to Washington’s eternal clients.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Robin Williams said it best, “Reality, what a concept.” I’m in Indianapolis also. The media has really done a poor job on this story. The workers are in a difficult, maybe no-win position, and there’s been no sympathy whatsoever. The local officers didn’t want the sale to come up for a vote. The national (or regional at least) union wanted it to come for a vote, so there was a power struggle. Personally, I hope it comes to a vote. The rank and file workers are being painted as greedy bastards who will lose their jobs instead of “losing their fifth week of vacation”. This is a slanted and incomplete view of the issues. If there is a reasonable compromise to be made, I think the workers will make it.

    It seems to me that there are some old hands that are tired and want to make a last stand and go out in a blaze of glory. Some may be the “gypsies” talked about in a previous post. Others are willing to make concessions to keep the plant open, but at some point there has to be a limit as to what is acceptable.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      The plant is closing as a GM plant (in December 2011?). It is owned by Motors Liquidation Corporation (NOT General Motors Company – the “new” GM) and is on the list of properties to be disposed of.
      The Illinois company (Norman) is offering to buy the plant (and operate it) IF the workers wages are adjusted.

  • avatar

    Solidarity is more than a slogan or a song. it represents the literal blood, sweat, and tears of individuals and families who suffered, endured, and toiled to make middle class America what it is, or should I say…has been. the Union makes us strong today is an unfortunately bullshit phrase sung by disillusioned quasi-patriotic satiated fools who fail to realize and capitalize on the hard won gains and unity of their forefathers.

    today it is well past time to form a new representative group for the workers, as the UAW has become corrupt and inept except to serve as a company operation without concern for workers well being. Now is the time to cast aside the company cooperative that disguises itself as a union. Reuther himself would denounce the obvious duplicity and conflict inherent in a union so corrupt that it has failed to recognize itself for the illegal, immoral entity it has become.

    Solidarity Forever still means something to me. when you’re ready to form a new union, I’m ready to assist in organizing. let’s make old Walter proud of us. he did it…so can we. Soldiers of Solidarity replaces UAW (United Against Workers). we have nothing to lose. Mondragon cooperative builds Buicks in Flint….hey can’t fault a guy for dreaming can you? it’s all your fault Laney and Lare.

  • avatar

    Solidaity Forever might be the greatest song of all time.

    ‘cept today it’s “The Union did us wrong”!!!

    time for a new union… “Soldiers of Solidarity” I am proud to be part of what is to come my brothers and sisters. I am with you!

    Solidarity is more than a slogan or a song. it represents the literal blood, sweat, and tears of individuals and families who suffered, endured, and toiled to make middle class America what i…t is, or should I say…has been. the Union makes us strong today is an unfortunately bullshit phrase sung by disillusioned quasi-patriotic satiated fools who fail to realize and capitalize on the hard won gains and unity of their forefathers.today it is well past time to form a new representative group for the workers, as the UAW has become corrupt and inept except to serve as a company operation without concern for workers well being. Now is the time to cast aside the company cooperative that disguises itself as a union.

    Reuther himself would denounce the obvious duplicity and conflict inherent in a union so corrupt that it has failed to recognize itself for the illegal, immoral entity it has become.Solidarity Forever still means something to me. when you’re ready to form a new union, I’m ready to assist in organizing. let’s make old Walter proud of us. he did it…so can we. Soldiers of Solidarity replaces UAW (United Against Workers). we have nothing to lose. Mondragon cooperative builds Buicks in Flint….hey can’t fault a guy for dreaming can you? it’s all your fault Laney and Lare.

  • avatar

    workers unite. God is with you and so am I.

  • avatar
    Superduty

    When I read stories like this and think about some of the rumors I have heard in the plant(I work at a large assembly plant for one of the big 2.8) it motivates me to save as much of my pay as I possibly can. I have over 15 years in with my employer, but sometimes I wonder if I will be making less with them in the end than I was at the begining. I have a four year degree, but chose to work on the assembly line like many others at my plant. The pay and benefits are very good and I actually enjoy the work.
    My co-workers and myself are not greedily demanding ever increasing perks. I think most of us would just like to keep the pay and benefits we agreed to work for when we started (that includes cost of living increases that enables our wages to keep up with inflation).
    I realize that it is sort of a catch 22 situation. Mexico, India, China,etc… labor cost are a small fraction of what American labor cost are. There are many things to consider besides labor when deliberating where to produce a vehicle. However I for one have no desire to compete with these countries on labor cost. There is no way anyone in the United States could live on wages comparable to Asia, Mexico…
    I made the choice to work where I do istead of putting my degree to work, but now that I am getting older (45) I think it would be just plain immorall for the company with or without the unions complicity to say surprise! we are cutting your wages in half. That is what I am preparing for though. Hopefully I will make it to retirement with the compensation agreed to both contractually and implied.
    I know many people think so what if auto workers wages are halfed and they lose their benefits, its a free market, but dont fool yourseles. Today its the unskilled factory worker, but next year or sometime in the not too distant future it could be anyone. After all there are plenty of universities and tech schools in China and India churning out doctors, scientist, and other professions who would be all too happy to work for a lot less than most Americans

  • avatar
    tced2

    Apparently it’s “settled”. It has been reported that the workers will not vote on the contract.

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