By on September 17, 2014

UAW Lear Strike

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.

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31 Comments on “UAW, Unifor Strike Out Against Two-Tier Wages...”

  • avatar

    Perhaps it’s time for more buyouts to bring in more of the tier 2 wages earners…

    What is the union proposing, that the tier 2 earners get a giant raise in the next contract? That the cost structure improvements of the last contracts be wiped out, putting Detroit automakers again at a disadvantage?

  • avatar

    Hey Hammond, Indiana UAW: sit on it!

  • avatar

    Funny how two tier wagees were a great idea when it meant current UAW members didnt have to take a haircut on wages. Some union members are apparently more equal than others

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly, the union wanted 2-tier as it only impacted future hires (not them).

      So is the strike against UAW as they agreed to 2-tier?

      • 0 avatar

        By now there’s enough 2nd tier workers to mount a force to complain that they make too little in comparison to their first tier counterparts. The first tier counterparts will stand in solidarity behind them. So really, it’s the ever growing number of 2nd tier workers that weren’t part of the union at the time of the agreement making this push.

        The UAW doesn’t pay them, the company does. So naturally they’re going after the people who hold the keys to the piggy bank, no matter who actually agreed to what.

        • 0 avatar

          Out of curiosity, why don’t these workers just stop paying dues since the UAW sold them out? If I was a worker I would not pay a single dime in dues until my interests were represented.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      This is how I remember it, also. These guys have only to look at their leadership.

      Ultimately, the company holds all the cards. The union could abolish the 2-tier system, but they do it at the risk of their own jobs. Eventually, the company can just move the plant if they don’t like what they see.

    • 0 avatar
      Rick T.


  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    2 tier > no tier

    Seriously, I get that the 2-tier thing kinda sucks (why should a young guy make XX% less than an old guy for the same job?) but the other option is that the old guy take a haircut down to what the young guy makes, and I get why that is politically and practically difficult. Allowing the old guard to float along at their higher salaries until retirement seems to me even a bit overly generous, so maybe STFU and be happy with the present that you received. Forklift driving and screwdriver turning are just not $75k/yr jobs with OT anymore, so fighting for that wage is a losing battle.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    This fight will become interesting…..

    Will it turn around the UAW’s fate? Or will it turn out to be a new “Battle of the Bulge”?

    Stay tuned. As a fellow poster here likes to say: bring the popcorn!

  • avatar

    As a retired GM Canada auto worker, I can’t speak for the UAW.

    In the 2007-2009 time period, the CAW “agreed” to the two tier deal, and whole lot more concessions. We opened the contract three times.

    I took the package in Dec 2008. I was, however at the meeting in June 09. The CAW was faced with two choices at that time. Take further concessions, including expanding two tier. The other choice? We shut the doors and go home. There was no third choice on the table.

    • 0 avatar
      onion head

      Why was there no third choice like bringing every body to a wage somewhere in between 1 and 2 to maintain unity. Also,”the close the doors and go home” comment is just that…a comment meant to instill fear.It carries no weight without information to back it up.

  • avatar

    That guy’s sign reads “Unfair labor practice.”

    You want to talk about fairness?

    How’s it fair to the company shareholders to have to keep this guy’s striking ass on the payroll because he thinks he’s entitled to more money than the several-times-free-market-labor rate he’s already getting for his daily efforts.

    In a just system, the company could simply boot these people out the door and hire new personnel.

    You don’t like your job, then quit and go find another one. The company exists to make money, not to provide people with jobs.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Is it just me, or do the folks photographed in UAW picket lines and that People of Wal-Mart website always look the same?


  • avatar

    If everyone paid same, it sounds no respect to craftsmanship of experienced worker’s job.
    If the car designed to be assembled by anyone with average skill, that pretty much sounds to be an appliance product.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      What GM/F/Chrysler vehicle ISN’T an appliance product? MAYBE the Corvette, Viper, and certain Mustangs, but even with those the magic is in the engineering, not the assembly. Some jobs benefit from experience; once you get past a year or two, the average manufacturing job isn’t one of them. The guy installing his 500,000th widget isn’t worth much less than the guy installing his 5,000,000th or 500,000,000th.

      • 0 avatar

        Bit of sarcasm.
        your S2000 might had went through lots of handcraft process at Takamisawa plant, and F20C engine’s intake port were hand polished by experienced worker. not something anyone can do.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          But the plant workers aren’t striking there. They’re striking at the plant where Explorer seats are made. Soo….

          • 0 avatar

            Just saying decent product can be better finished with skilled hands.
            bundling all skill level labors into same per hour salary, and payment decided only by the amount of time they worked doesn’t sound right to me, regardless who is trying to head to that direction.

  • avatar

    One important consideration that hasnt come up in the comments section is that Michigan is now a “Right to work state”. This is a pretty recent development and the Unions have managed to skirt around it be characterizing all their new/amended contracts as “extensions” of existing contracts even despite what are obviously new terms. This means that union dues are deducted from paychecks as they always have been.

    In Michigan plants, you actually may see some UAW backlash against abolishing the 2 tier wage system for this reason. If significant changes are made, there may be some push by members or management to characterize it as a new agreement thus requiring all UAW members to forward checks monthly to the UAW for Dues, which of course are voluntary meaning they could see significant reduction in dues collected. Not a position the UAW wants to be in. It is probably bound to happen at sometime down the road, but I know for a fact the Michigan Unions would love to keep on getting “Extensions” that keep the union dues deducted from paychecks for as long as possible.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    It’s pretty simple. The UAW should ask for whatever compensation Honda and Toyota are paying for comparable jobs at their U.S. plants. Compensation in excess of that risks the long term health of their employer.

    • 0 avatar

      Ah, the sweet taste of irony! UAW thugs trying to leverage the excellent compensation of RTW transplants in order to keep their serfs complacent. I love it. Too bad the long term health of their employers has already been flat-lined by UAW legacy costs, which is why they can’t afford to pay a strong wage for new hires.

  • avatar

    Boring misconceptions about two-tier wages abound. I’m not about to sit here and respond to these perceptions because frankly I don’t have the time and energy. Suffice to say the two-tier wage system was implemented as a stop-gap measure by the automakers that was designed to appease the unions only in the nature that it prolonged this theoretical ‘inevitable’ but as we’ve seen these plants aren’t closing down and after getting a slow but resolute win in Chattanooga attacking the two-tier system is pretty spot on for the direction that organized labor is going.

    Simply put the left is more open to supporting organized labor again, in fact it shrunk during the last recession even further but unionization is on the rebound and with the right’s political ambitions suffering major setbacks due to demographics this is a prime time to strike.

    Now to be interesting, if conservatives didn’t lash out right after WWII there is scientific conjecture that the US would look much more like the Scandinavians in terms of social conditions which is intriguing. Basically it came down to the desperation of capitalists to slow and reverse unionization which put the center-right back in balance in this country and now nearly 70 years later are we finally teetering back towards center-left.

    Please banter amongst yourselves about union ‘greed’ and all the ‘plants rushing to Mexico’ now.

    • 0 avatar

      It wasn’t those mean old conservatives who prevented the U.S. from becoming a gigantic version of Sweden. Aside from the differences in demographics, ethnic make-up of the population and lower population densities, any attempt to imitate Scandinavia was pretty much lost once the restrictions on immigration were lifted in the mid-1960s. That effort, by the way, was not spearheaded by conservatives. Even Scandinavian nations don’t look as much like the Scandinavian nations of the past (particularly Sweden) because of immigration over the past few decades.

  • avatar

    Two tier wage platforms ( or multiple tiers) are common practice in other unionized industries ,such as service jobs.
    That’s just the reality of today’s America. Sad, but true.
    Oh, and right to work legislation is going to wreak havoc on the union I belong to, the UFCW. My local is expecting up to 50% opt out when the current contract expires. But they got no one to blame but themselves.The UFCW has been shoving sub-par contracts down the rank and files throats for decades.
    It is to the point now that new hires can get better wages and benefits at a nonunion work place because the so called union won benefits are so paltry. Pathetic.

  • avatar

    “It is to the point now that new hires can get better wages and benefits at a nonunion work place because the so called union won benefits are so paltry.”

    Do tell!

    I have heard of such, but Xeranar is never in the mood to tell us all more about it. And he specializes in this discipline! Or so he says.

    • 0 avatar

      And you’re exactly why I don’t bother. Anecdotal evidence in various positions is anecdotal. I’m actually very sure I gave you the EXACT reasoning atleast a half-dozen times before I simply stopped bothering. I mean frankly you’re a white middle-class conservative, you’re the exact people who are unlikely to care and I’ve heard your sob story of how unions kicked your puppy and ruined EVERYTHING for you and yet I can’t help but point to my own story where my parents were unionized and received good wages and my father tried to unionize his company but came up shy and suffered for it.

      So please, do tell me again HDC why you’re so rich and powerful and how the economy is just a Horatio Alger story waiting to happen for everybody!

      But seriously, you dislike my view but you never can find a valid citation to justify your position outside of some right-wing think tanks. You aren’t exactly batting 1.000 here…

  • avatar

    I’m not white collar ( obviously, I have belonged to a union for almost 35 years) but I do tend to lean towards the conservative side, more so now as I get older. I have watched my union relinquish work place gains with every single contract while encouraging the rank and file to accept the contracts as “the best package achievable under the current economic conditions” The rep will visit the stores ,touting the miniscule wage gains to get approval of the package. It is only later that language buried in the contract comes to light, negatively affecting employees. To those employees hired in the last 10 years or so, the union is viewed as completely irrelevant and nothing more than a annoying cash deduction ( union dues) on their take home pay.
    Once the rest of the long term employees (like me) retire (with a pension, something done away with in the last contract) the union will probably serve almost no purpose and will have significantly reduced strength as those left opt out.

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