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Possible Strike For U.A.W.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The United Auto Workers Union might go on strike for the first time since 1970, according to the New York Times:

The United Automobile Workers union, in an unexpected move late Sunday night, set a strike deadline of this morning in negotiations with General Motors.

The action signaled that there had been a major snag in talks that had appeared to be heading toward a new contract. The U.A.W. set a deadline of 11 a.m. Eastern time, the first such move since its contract with G.M. expired nine days ago.

The Times further reported:

Union officials criticized G.M. for continuing to pay bonus compensation to its executives, while pressing U.A.W. members to make concessions. (G.M. did not pay cash bonuses to its top officials last year, but gave them stock awards and other perquisites.)

“This is our reward,” said Cal Rapson, a union vice president and director of the union’s G.M. Department, adding that G.M. was demanding that “our members accept a reduced standard of living.”

But as always workers (as well as management) want to avoid strikes at all cost, their last (non-national) strike back in 1998:

lasted seven weeks and shut down nearly all of G.M.’s operations in North America. G.M., which had 31 percent of the American market before the strike, has never recovered — it now has less than one-quarter of the American market.

Analysts had widely predicted that G.M. and the U.A.W. would avoid a strike. By setting a strike deadline, the U.A.W. is wielding the single most dramatic threat that it can make against an auto company.

In a press release U.A.W. President Ron Gettelfinger stated:

 “We’re shocked and disappointed that General Motors has failed to recognize and appreciate what our membership has contributed during the past four years…Since 2003 our members have made extraordinary efforts every time the company came to us with a problem: the corporate restructuring, the attrition plan, the Delphi bankruptcy, the 2005 health care agreement. In every case, our members went the extra mile to find reasonable solutions.

“Throughout this time period…it has been the dedication of UAW members that has helped GM set new standards for safety, quality and productivity in their manufacturing facilities. 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.”

The press release continues:

“This is our reward: a complete failure by GM to address the reasonable needs and concerns of our members,” said UAW Vice President Cal Rapson, director of the union’s GM Department. “Instead, in 2007 company executives continued to award themselves bonuses while demanding that our members accept a reduced standard of living.

Image From:
United Auto Workers Union 

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