"This Is The Motor City. This Is What We Do."
VW Labor Talks Hit Snag
Trucks Save UAW's "Green Car Compromise"
During the government’s bailout of General Motors, the UAW agreed to a number of concessions, including management’s ability to use “Innovative Labor Practices” in order to build a fuel-efficient subcompact car in the US. As a result, the 1,600 workers at the firm’s Lake Orion plant had a choice: the 800 most senior workers would return at the $28 “tier one” wage, while another 500 workers would be able to return only if they accepted a 50% pay cut, pushing them into the union’s “second tier” of wages. Workers forced into the tier two, which typically applies only to new hires, were not allowed to transfer to other Michigan plants, and could neither vote on the agreement, nor strike because of it. After all, the bailout’s green-tinged sales pitch meant that building a subcompact in the US was a politically necessary move, even if it went against every UAW principle… which is why it’s awfully ironic that the safety valve for this deteriorating situation is a factory building trucks.
Quote Of The Day: The UAW's Last Stand Edition
Quote Of The Day: Bring It! Edition
UAW To Protest Two-Tier Wages At NAIAS
As the biggest week in the American auto industry, the annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit regularly attracts a sideshow of protesters bent on sending a message to the hordes of executives and analysts who cram Cobo Hall. In 2009, UAW members marched against the possibility that the auto bailout (then still a work-in-progress) would require union concessions. Last year, Tea Party groups rallied to protest the government’s ownership of GM and Chrysler, while UAW members counter-rallied in support of the bailout (apparently those concessions weren’t so bad). This year will be no exception to the trend, as dissident UAW members will be protesting the union’s two-tier wage system, a pre-bailout concession that has created considerable controversy of late. And they’ll be getting support (if only in word, not action) from across their friends from the North, as the Canadian Auto Worker boss has recently called for an end to the two-tier system, saying
That has to be a strategy of the UAW to gradually get out of the two-tiered system. I don’t know if it can happen overnight, but they’ve got to start sending signals to future employees that the low, tiered wages are not something that can sustain families long term
Fiat's Italian Renaissance Draws (More) Labor Strife
With some 60k Italian jobs and a $20b investment at stake, Fiat’s “Fabbrica Italia” renovation of its home-country production plans are crucial to the integration of Fiat and Chrysler. And rather than negotiating a national labor agreement with Italy’s fractious unions, Fiat has been revamping its Italian plants on a case-by-case basis. This strategy has already backfired at the firm’s Naples-based Pomigliano plant, where the Italian metalworker’s union Fiom decried Fiat’s plans as “discriminatory.” Since then, Fiat has moved onto its Mirafiori plant in Turin, where Fiat wants to build the next-generation Compass/Patriot models for Chrysler and a derivative SUV for Alfa-Romeo on the firm’s new “Compact Wide” platform. And once again, Fiom is up to its old tricks. The WSJ reports that every other union has approved the new Mirafiori deal with Fiat, except Fiom, which has been banned from representing workers at the plant, pending a January vote by workers. However, Fiom represents some 22 percent of Mirafiori workers, and the union has announced an eight-hour strike for January 28.
UAW Recruits Activists For Transplant Assault
As Bob King and the United Auto Workers gear up for their January organizing campaign aimed at converting transplant automakers to the union way, the UAW is picking up support from outside the automotive industry. Automotive News [sub] reports that Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition has expressed its interest in organizing the non-union auto assembly plants, and that the Detroit bureau of the NAACP has pledged assistance as well, offering to request assistance from its national leadership. Even the Ohio-based Farm Labor Organizing Committee, which organizes migrant farm workers, has said it would join the fight if King asks. And though AN’s writeup uses the imagery of conflict to describe King’s “soldiers,” King insists that its strategy is not confrontational. As far as the President of the UAW is concerned,
Transplant workers in the South will want to be part of this “winning team,” King said.
Detroit Drops $305m On UAW Retiree Bonuses, Scrooges Actual Workers
GM: Buyouts Are Back
UAW Protest Targets Hyundai, Ignores Hypocrisy
Unable to provide meaningful representation to its dwindling membership, the United Auto Workers is continuing its post-bailout strategy of poking its nose into everyone else’s business with a protest planned for today at the Hyundai America Technical Center in Ann Arbor, MI. While its own workers face the aftermath of a bailout that saw tens of US plants shut down, the UAW opines on the Korean situation in a release which notes:
Frustrated by their temporary status, auto workers at a Hyundai Motor Co.mpany plant in Ulsan, South Korea, declared a strike on Nov. 15, and one desperate worker set himself on fire in protest of the company’s refusal to offer secure jobs. About 500 workers have since led an occupation of various plants in the Hyundai compound… To anyone interested in workplace fairness, the resolution of the Ulsan Hyundai workers’ strike is critical. It could either speed up progress toward ensuring global living wages, or provide a green light on the race to the bottom the auto industry began years ago – — with Toyota and Hyundai getting a head start.
One must, however, point out that the UAW has made its fair share of contributions to recent declines in auto worker wages. After all, it forced nearly half of GM’s Orion Assembly plant workforce to take a 40 percent wage cut in order to build a politically-popular fuel-efficient subcompact (the next-gen Aveo) in the US. Not only did this represent an unconscionable screwing of its own union “brothers” but it also directly hurts the Korean workers the UAW now so self-righteously defends by by stealing jobs using the very same “race to the bottom” that it decries. Besides, the labor situation in Korea is a bit more complex than the UAW’s Manichean moralizing makes it out to be…
Flush From GM's IPO, UAW Targeting New VW Plant
GM’s stock may be hovering near its IPO price of $3/share, but the UAW doesn’t need much more growth to cash out with every penny it wanted from GM. The UAW’s VEBA account has banked $3.4b in stock sales so far, and Forbes reports
The VEBA will break even on its investment if it can sell the remaining 206 million shares at an average price of $36.96.
Taxpayers, meanwhile, need GM’s stock to top at least $52/share in order to break even on the bailout that it funded. Because it’s just not a bailout unless the least deserving benefit the most. Meanwhile, with its accounts once again flush with cash, the UAW is turning South in hopes of accomplishing what it has never accomplished before: unionizing at ransplant auto factory in a right-to-work, Southern state.
UAW Boss: "People Want To Reward Our Members"
Let me say this as clear as I can, I do not think there will be any concessions in 2011. People want to reward our members and it will be a key component of the 2011 bargaining. When the industry comes back, just like we’re sharing in the downside we’re going to share in the upside. That’s a key foundation of what we’re doing in 2011.
UAW President Bob King gives his best “we will fight them on the beaches” impression, telling Reuters that his union has sacrificed enough, thanks. And though the people who want to reward UAW members are notably absent from public debate, that assertion wasn’t nearly as double-take-worthy as King’s opinion that
There’s no competitive gap between Ford, GM and Chrysler right now
Quote Of The Day: The UAW Goes Global Edition
Even though Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne’s disparaging comments about its over-reliance on Italian manufacturing have opened the door for more US manufacturing opportunities, United Auto Workers boss Bob King wants to make it clear that he won’t be taking advantage of Fiat’s rift with its Italian unions. Fiat tells Automotive News [sub] that failure to secure Italian union agreement with its new manufacturing plan could send increased production to Serbia, Poland and even the United States. King’s response [via Michigan Public Radio]:
They (automakers) won’t be pitting one worker in one country against another. We’re going to be part of working with our global partners in other unions and building a global middle class – and rebuild the American middle class, really.
Yes, in the brutally competitive international labor market, there is a way for everyone to win… really.