UAW, Unifor Strike Out Against Two-Tier Wages
Last weekend, 760 UAW workers at the Lear facility in Hammond, Ind. — where Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant receives its seats — went on strike against two-tier wages, winning a tentative contract that eliminates the system. This, in turn, may be a sign of more such actions to come as the union seeks to end the two-tier system throughout the industry.
Automotive News reports the last time a strike occurred was in 2007, when workers at General Motors gently applied the brakes on production for 41 hours after a concessionary contract that introduced two-tier wages to all of the automaker’s U.S. facilities. Since then, a hard recession and rough recovery have kept striking off the table.
In 2014, however, economic conditions have improved to the point where both UAW and Unifor are more than willing to throw down to get what they want. Unifor president Jerry Dias went so far as to threaten supplier Johnson Controls and GM with production stoppages and strike actions if the supplier went through with its plan to close an interior plant in Ontario. In turn, Johnson Controls kept the plant open and gave workers some additional bonuses.
As contracts between the Detroit Three and the unions come up for negotiation beginning in January 2015, the elimination of the two-tier system will be on the table. Whether striking will come into play depends on how willing the automakers are on keeping the system in place.
Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.
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