Tough Times For Tier Two

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
tough times for tier two

In 2007, the United Auto Workers came to a defining decision: rather than sharing sacrifice equally in the spirit of solidarity, the union divided its membership into two tiers. Tier one was the old guard, existing UAW workers who continued to receive relatively generous wages. Tier two was made up of all new hires, who were paid about half what their tier one “brothers” made. As the bankruptcy and bailout of GM and Chrysler brought the UAW’s internal divisions to the fore, second-tier workers have become more and more vocal about their second-class status. The excellent Changing Gears project (a “public media conversation about the future of the industrial Midwest”) speaks with several second-tier workers about the challenges and frustrations of earning half as much as their union brethren. In the words of one worker

There’s a joke within the two tier people, that if two two-tier people died in a fire, they’d say “one GM employee lost.” You feel like half an employee… It’s not like we have to wear a badge.. or drink out of a seperate drinking fountain, it’s just, you know every day that when you go in there, the life these people have made for themselves is something you’ll never have.

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  • Disaster Disaster on Sep 23, 2010

    The union and the auto companies have added a second problem to their first one, high labor costs. Like people have mentioned, when people work side by side, doing the same job, and get paid half as much, they get resentful. This resentment effects the quality of their work. Now you've got old guys who make too much and can't get fired so they scr_w off, alongside new guys, who are p_ssed that they make less and therefore scr_w off. High labor cost coupled with low productivity. Yeah!!! Here is an interesting read about how even monkey's have an innate sense of fairness.

  • Jmatt Jmatt on Sep 23, 2010

    So, GM willingly pays half of its staff twice as much as the market will bear. Every penny GM overpays its tier one UAW employees is a penny of value that doesn't get put into the car. Which would account for their horrible reliability record. And which is why I woul never buy a GM product. Perhaps if they build cars that can compete with the foreign automakers, after 25 or 30 years people will start to trust them again.

  • Ihatetrees Ihatetrees on Sep 23, 2010

    I find it hard to sympathize... These guys knew the conditions when they took the job. Don't get me wrong - the situation sucks - it has to be a cancer on workplace relationships and functionality. And that says something about the sub-species management types that agreed to such a charlie-foxtrot pay system. Does anyone know bankruptcy case law? Are 2 tier pay scales normally part of bankruptcies???

  • AaronH AaronH on Sep 24, 2010

    The new hires have much lower wages because they are carrying about 8 other retired "brothers" each...They are not brothers...They are slaves of the retirees...Bet they don't even have a clue that they are slaves....LOL!