Category: Union News

By on September 10, 2021

With the Biden administration having announced that it would start requiring companies to vaccinate employees, automakers and UAW are finding themselves in a sticky situation. Unions had previously said they wanted to hold off on endorsing or opposing mandatory vaccinations until after they discussed things with the industry and their own members. Considering Joe Biden said he wouldn’t make vaccines mandatory less than 10 months ago, employers are getting caught with their pants around the proverbial ankles.

Automakers had previously been surveying white-collar workers to see what they wanted to do while upping on-site COVID restrictions, but operating under the impression that any hard decisions were likely a long way off and left entirely to their discretion. Now the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is planning a new standard that requires all employers with 100 (or more) employees to guarantee their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any unvaccinated workers to produce a negative test result on a minimum weekly basis.  Read More >

By on April 28, 2021

The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) has informed a Senate Commerce subcommittee on transportation that the Biden Administration’s penchant for electric vehicles is starting to get under its skin. The union is recommending that the United States avoid setting any timeline for the proposed banning of internal combustion vehicles because it might cost a staggering number of jobs.

Ann Wilson, MEMA’s senior vice president of government affairs, said vehicle restrictions were unrealistic before 2040 and would obliterate entire segments of the auto industry without providing concrete assurances that the environment would be improved. While the latter claim can be argued endlessly, the former is pretty difficult to refute.  Read More >

By on December 14, 2020

The U.S. Department of Justice has reached a proposed civil settlement with the United Auto Workers (UAW) in the gigantic corruption case that absorbed two former presidents and a slew of union officers over the last few years. With many involved already serving the first part of their prison sentence, the UAW has reportedly agreed to hold a referendum among the rank-and-file to change the way it elects the top brass. The proposal predictably includes some court oversight designed to catch any new instances of fraud coming from inside the union but doesn’t appear to address the corporate aspect.

As a positive, it’s not assumed that the union will see a complete government takeover. Like laundry, it’s already better to separate your alleged corruption to create legal buffer zones.

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By on November 18, 2020

Over the last few years, General Motors has been cautiously hinting that it wants to pull out the Korean market. In 2018, the automaker started worrying about regional bankruptcy and shuttered one of its South Korean facilities after noting that labor costs had been on the rise. While the government handed GM 850 billion won ($712.85 million) in industrial aid to stick around, the region is known for labor disputes. We even celebrated the fact that South Korean Hyundai failed to strike in 2019. General Motors was less fortunate, however.

The Detroit-based company is once again discussing abandoning the market and citing labor issues as the primary cause. Employees have been organizing limited daily strikes since October 30th. Despite only lasting part of a single shift, it’s impacting production and will only end once the automaker ends a wage freeze enacted during the aforementioned deal in 2018.

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By on November 10, 2020

Unifor members overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year contract with General Motors, effectively ending the union’s 2020 auto bargaining with Detroit automakers. Members backed the contract with 85 percent approval and secured meaningful investments into Canada’s automotive industry, including the $1 billion (USD) investment that saves Oshawa Assembly. It’s an important victory for the union and the Canadian auto workers it represents.

“This contract solidifies and boldly builds on GM’s Canadian footprint, with a $1.3 billion dollar investment that brings 1,700 jobs to Oshawa plus more than $109 million to in-source new transmission work for the Corvette and support continued V8 engine production in St. Catharines,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “Jobs at all three Canadian sites are secure for the life of this agreement, including at the Woodstock Parts Distribution Centre, which will also see upgrades.”

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By on October 14, 2020

Canada’s preferred choice in unions, Unifor, warned that contract negotiations with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles were progressing slower than anticipated over the weekend. By Wednesday, news of a strike had begun brewing over social media. Local 444 was issuing FCA-WAP bargaining updates on Twitter and Facebook that included marching orders in the event that the day’s discussions didn’t end in a handshake.

“To ensure we are prepared for a strike, or strike coordinators have been working to finalize the details needed in order to begin, if and when necessary,” the union wrote to members. “If a tentative agreement is reached by 11:59pm October 14th, without an extension in place, then Local 444 along with brothers and sisters across the country at all FCA facilities will be on strike. As the talks continue late into the night, any updates will be posted to our social media pages and web page.”

That scenario is looking increasingly likely, especially as Unifor has explained there was little progress to report all afternoon. It also opened this week suggesting contract talks were “not quite where we feel [they] should be with this limited amount of time left on the clock.”

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By on October 1, 2020

Dennis Williams, the former president of the United Auto Workers, pleaded guilty to embezzling union funds on Wednesday. His copping to the conspiracy charge comes after his successor, Gary Jones, similarly pleaded guilty to misappropriating more than $1.5 million from the UAW in June. They’re joined by numerous co-conspirators that have been caught in a gigantic federal probe hoping to address union corruption and appears to have hit pay dirt.

Appearing by video in the U.S. District Court in Detroit, Williams entered his plea and apologized about the current state of the UAW. “I want to close by apologizing to this court, to my family and to each and every hard-working member paying dues,” he said. “I hope by accepting responsibility for my actions and for my failures, this process might help restore the faith in our union.” Read More >

By on September 16, 2020

General Motors refuses to let the dismissal of its federal racketeering case against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles stand in the way of getting what it believes is true justice. On Monday, the automaker filed its latest claim with Wayne County Circuit Court in Michigan. These are separate from the New Jersey lawsuit it has targeting former board member and ex-UAW vice president Joe Ashton, who GM has accused of being a hired mole. However, Ashton was named in the trio of new court filings, along with Alphons Iacobelli  the man who pled guilty to embezzling union funds and kicked off a gigantic federal corruption investigation into the UAW.

The automaker also named some of the banks it claimed were involved in the union scandal and continues to allege that FCA “provided millions of dollars to co-conspirators via numerous undisclosed offshore bank accounts and utilized such accounts to purchase the support and silence of numerous high-level UAW officers and FCA executives.” Fiat Chrysler’s assumed goal? Forcing General Motors into a merger or destroy it if the merger failed by negotiating favorable terms with the union and encouraging leadership into adopting positions that would harm GM.

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By on September 9, 2020

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Unifor has selected the Ford Motor Company as its target for collective bargaining. Once negotiations conclude, the union will be using the terms established with the automaker to lay the groundwork for pattern deals with General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

While the talks have not yet begun, we already know Unifor wants to cement production commitments in Oakville, Ontario, where Ford is rumored to be ending Edge assembly. It would also like to secure deals for FCA plants in Brampton and Windsor. Naturally, the union will also be demanding wage increases  though this is sometimes the most contentious issue. Contract talks from 2016 became stuck in the mud over higher pay until Ford insisted employees remain subject to a 10-year wage grow-in that union members had been split on. It’s unclear if that will remain the case in 2020 but we genuinely haven’t had high hopes for the Union pulling out anything that resembles a major victory.

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By on April 21, 2020

Image: UAW

With very little going on in the automotive realm amid the pandemic, we decided to check in on the United Auto Workers to see if another chapter had been added to the organization’s ongoing corruption scandal. Not much news on that front, though the union did announce its pick for presidential candidate. On Tuesday, it publicly embraced Joe Biden.

While Biden has long been the presumed UAW favorite, a March confrontation with a Detroit factory worker over the former vice president’s 2nd Amendment policies briefly resulted in a cadre of union members pushing back against the candidate over social media. At the time, the situation looked to have done real damage to his prospects of getting union endorsements in the Midwest. However, it seems the outrage was short-lived. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has taken great strides to appeal to factory workers living in states like Michigan and Ohio — measures that clearly helped get him elected in 2016.

Recall the UAW came out rather aggressively against Trump prior to the last election and ultimately endorsed Hilary Clinton. With that in mind, it would be almost unthinkable to see the union change course. It was probably always going to be Biden; the union just needed to make an the obligatory announcement.  Read More >

By on April 1, 2020

Image: UAW

Hoping to bounce back from its ongoing corruption scandal, the UAW announced the placement of its new independent ethics officer on Wednesday. The union group expressed a need for an independent ethics officer after Rory Gamble took over for defamed former UAW President Gary Jones late last year.

“As the acting president, I’m committed to putting in place the right mechanisms to safeguard our union, regaining the trust of our members, and ensuring the misconduct that has recently come to light will never happen again,” Jones explained in November. “That is why I am ordering immediate actions that will lay the foundation for a more transparent, more accountable, and more responsible future for our union.”

The UAW then launched an national search for an ethics officer. This week, it settled on former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board Wilma Liebman.  Read More >

By on January 16, 2020

Image: UAW

Gerald Kariem has been unanimously selected by the UAW’s executive board to become its new vice president and director of the Ford department. Kariem, 63, has been a board member himself for almost ten years and currently oversees Region 1D. His placement frees up Rory Gamble to handle more presidential duties (Gamble having taken on the top role in November after former UAW President Gary Jones resigned amid a federal corruption investigation).

“Gerald brings a wealth of leadership in contract implementation, and he will be able to pick up on the recently ratified Ford contract,” Gamble said in a statement. “His experience in implementing the merger of Regions 1C and 1D and building teamwork through his leadership will be invaluable as we implement reforms within the UAW.” Read More >

By on December 17, 2019

The Detroit Fire Department has been going back and forth on the July 13th fire at the United Automobile Workers’ headquarters since its investigation began. Arson was initially on the table before being swiftly ruled out, and the probe continued by private investigators contending with insurance claims, seemingly free of suspicion.

Investigators now believe the fire could have been set intentionally, without attaching any conviction to those claims.

“I was told at the time that they did not think it was arson,” Detroit Fire Department Deputy Commissioner Dave Fornell told Automotive News in an interview from Monday. “That wasn’t a final verdict … When I did some inquiries with the press, I asked investigators and they were saying at that point it was ruled out.”  Read More >

By on December 4, 2019

Image: UAW

United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Matthew Schneider, has said new details about the ever expanding UAW corruption probe have been trickling in. But he’s also criticizing the union for not providing adequate cooperation throughout the multi-year investigative process. Schneider indicated there was new evidence included additional details of malfeasance from former UAW President Gary Jones shared by the union in November. While the prosecutor did not offer details, he said it was the type of information that should have been reported to his office, not publicly.

Automotive News surmised he was likely referencing details released late last month by the union’s executive board in an effort to remove Jones and Region 5 Director Vance Pearson. That report included allegations that Jones let his daughter use a UAW-rented townhouse in Palm Springs, California. Sources familiar with the situation have confirmed that the union publicly released information against the two at roughly the same time it was handed it over to the U.S. attorney’s office.  Read More >

By on November 5, 2019

With UAW President Gary Jones taking a leave of absence during a broadening corruption probe into the union, acting head Rory Gamble is attempting to reassure members that there’ll be no more funny business.

“I know recent events concerning members of our leadership have disappointed and angered many of you. I am angry as well, but I am not here to pre-judge anyone. I am here to take this union forward,” he wrote in a letter.

The message, published Tuesday, saw Gamble take a firm stance on corruption and a slightly softer one regarding previously accused (or convicted) union leaders. Read More >

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