Gettelfinger 'shocked and disappointed' in GM, UAW set to strike at 11 a.m.
The United Auto Workers plans to strike at 11 a.m. today if a deal has not been reached with General Motors Corp. by then, the union told its members late Sunday.
Nine days have passed since the UAW's contract with GM expired and though the two sides have been negotiating every day since, they have been unable to agree on a deal. The new deadline comes two days after UAW President Ron Gettelfinger sent a letter to members saying the union hoped to avoid a walkout.
In a statement sent around 1:30 a.m., Gettelfinger said he is "shocked and disappointed" in GM and that the automaker has failed to recognize recent sacrifices made by the union.
"Since 2003, our members have made extraordinary efforts every time the company came to us with a problem," he said, listing the landmark 2005 health care deal, last year's massive buyouts and the Delphi Corp. bankruptcy settlement earlier this year. "In every case, our members went the extra mile to find reasonable solutions. And in this current round of bargaining, we did everything possible to negotiate a new contract, including an unprecedented agreement to stay at the bargaining table nine days past the expiration of the previous agreement."
There hasn't been a strike at GM since the UAW walked out in Flint in 1998.
Over the weekend, GM pressed the UAW for significant concessions, including controversial two-tier wages, in addition to a deal that would shift responsibility for retiree health care costs to the UAW.
The two sides closed in on a new labor pact over the weekend, but continued to wrestle with some major issues after nearly three weeks of continuous negotiations.
In addition to wages, GM is pushing the union to give ground on factory competitiveness and job security.
As of late Sunday, bargainers were still discussing pensions, GM's U.S. investments and outsourcing, along with retiree health care, sources familiar with the negotiations said. The talks were expected to continue through the night.
"We will continue focusing our efforts on reaching an agreement as soon as possible," GM spokesman Dan Flores said moments after the new deadline was set.
A company-financed, union-run trust to pay for retiree medical expenses is expected to be the core of a new contract, with GM and the UAW agreeing last week on a framework for the trust, known as a voluntary employees' beneficiary association. Through the weekend, the two sides were still negotiating financial agreements related to the VEBA.
But retiree health costs represent only about half of GM's estimated $25-to-$30-per hour labor cost gap with Japanese automakers and GM is looking for other ways to save money.
"If the union sets a deadline, that tells me they've got a deal," said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.
GM wants structural changes in the way plants are run, how workers are paid, and what they are entitled to when they're laid off, sources close to the talks said.
GM also wants changes to the jobs bank -- a program that allows laid-off workers to continue collecting pay and benefits -- that would make it easier for the company to place those workers into new jobs.
The jobs bank isn't the hot-button issue it used to be for either side after tens of thousands of UAW workers accepted buyout offers and early retirement as part of GM's restructuring, but the automaker is still expected to push for some changes.
And GM wants to cut the number of factory job classifications and make it easier to hire nonunion labor for jobs not directly tied to building vehicles.
In years past, any of those demands could have been a flashpoint issue in negotiations. But this year, they've been overshadowed by the VEBA, which has been at the center of intense debate and was the cause last week of a two-day standoff between the GM and the union.
GM wants to shift $50 billion in retiree health care obligations to the union through the VEBA. Before a deal can be finalized, the two sides must agree on key aspects of the trust, including the level of funding GM will contribute, where that money will come from and what happens if the fund goes dry or health care costs drop significantly. To resolve those issues, GM and the UAW must strike deals on the key economic issues of wages, benefits and job security.
Armed with a litany of statistics, both the union and GM have laid out their arguments on cost competitiveness.
GM points to retiree obligations and medical costs as barriers to its ability to compete with foreign automakers that operate in the United States. GM estimates its $5 billion annual health care bill is growing by almost 15 percent a year.
In addition to health care and retiree costs, GM estimated it spent more than $300 million in 2006 on cost-of-living allowances, where foreign automakers paid none. GM gives its workers 20 days vacation, compared to Toyota Motor Corp.'s 16. And GM's active workers contribute about 7 percent to their medical coverage, compared to 25 percent for Toyota workers.
The UAW contends that labor costs account for only 10 percent of the cost of building a vehicle.
That reality alone will make GM's push for deep concessions beyond the VEBA a tough sell to the union. Add rich executive pay packages and sacrifices made by the union in recent years, including health care givebacks, and a contract offer that includes significant concessions on top of a VEBA likely would be shot down, said Harley Shaiken, a UAW expert at the University of California-Berkeley.
Additionally, GM likely will have to agree to a certain level of investment in its U.S. plants to ease auto workers' primary concern: keeping their jobs. Members connected to a dissident union group on Sunday circulated an anti-VEBA, anti-concessions flyer.
Meanwhile, the automaker and union are discussing a signing bonus that could help sell a tough contract to members.
"If GM had the same incentive structure as Toyota, it would be making money now," Shaiken said. "Ultimately, the work they're going to need to do is in the marketplace, not simply at the bargaining table."
"GM needs cars that people are excited about buying and are willing to pay full sticker price for."
So that's why a $25,000 car costs $80,000 !!!
The union IS the problem!
Originally Posted by 6 Shooter
Erik S. Klein
NCRS Member #: 11661
Corvettes Anonymous Charter Member 003
All Options 1972 LT-1 Air Coupe
UAW strikes GM
The United Auto Workers launched a national strike today against General Motors Corp. after 10 days of marathon bargaining failed to produce a new labor pact for the automaker's 73,000 hourly U.S. workers.
The UAW hasn't staged a national strike against General Motors since 1970.
At 11 a.m. officials at Local 599 in Flint got on their cell phones, called in plant reps and said "Take them out."
A few minutes after calls were made, workers began streaming into the local hall, where picket signs were laid out on folding tables in front of huge murals that celebrate this union's militant background of sit-down strikes and mass marches.
The stunning move came after the union told its members on Sunday they were to walk off the job unless they heard otherwise by 11 a.m. That word never came, and now GM is facing its first strike since the UAW struck the automaker's operation in Flint in 1998.
Perspective on Business vs Unions
All anyone has to do is look at what working conditions were like before labor unions came into existence. Unless you've been hiding in a cave for the last 100 years you've heard the term "sweat shops". That's what they were to! Long working hours with no job protection, no health care benefits, no benefits of any kind for that matter!. Labor unions went a long way in raising the living standard of the working class in this country and the working class is the backbone of any society because these are not only the people who make products-they buy them! I will say though that there have been abuses on both sides but one thing that gripes me is that big business always wants to kick the little guy who wants nothing more than to do his job and go home at the end of the day and enjoy the fruits of his labor (if he can) just so big business can pay some outrageous salary with all kinds of perks and benefits to some suit who probably never had a speck of dirt under his fingernails his entire life! Do I think people who work hard and apply themselves to advance in life deserve to be rewarded? Absolutely but let's use some common sense while we're at it. Does anyone need to make 50 million dollars a year? I seriously doubt it. Do I believe in socialism? Absolutely not! Free enterprise will undoubtly set people free to become all they can be but again lets use some common sense. One thing bad about labor unions is that they protect the jobs of people who aren't worth 15 cents a day which makes a drain on productiveness which is just as bad as overpaying some suit in my opinion. Do we need big business? Absolutely! Do we need labor unions? Only as long as big business refuses to treat people like people and not as an expendable commodity. We can all win if we can learn how to work together and view each other as a necessary partner and not as a competitor. My 2 cents. You are entitled to your opinions as well.
There was a time when labour unions served a good and useful purpose but that day passed decades ago. Western nations now have labour laws which serve that same purpose.
Instead of shrinking to a minimal role of negotiating and representing their membership, unions became political entities who use union fees and voting power to influence politicians... and using their monopoly on labour to extort ever increasing wages and benefits with zero responsibility for the consequences to the companies.
In all honesty I didn't notice how old this thread was until after I responded however, I think the same mentality exists now that did before this all started with the struggle between business and labor and I am doubtful that it will ever change. I think Mac has pointed out a very valid argument about what is wrong with labor unions today. They have become a business within themselves and I wonder if they have forgotten the reason they were able to come into existence in the first place. With all the rip-offs carried out by business during the last few years I don't see any change in their attitude either.
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