General Motors UAW members, apparently forgetting they lost $58
billion unrecovered bucks in their last "strike," are threatening to
strike again -- this time with even less leverage than before!
Fearing reductions in their coveted but overpriced PENSIONS, the UAW
drones say they'll walk out if their generous-but-outdated-pension
funds are turned over to ... the UAW!
But these folks fail to remember that in these days of the globalized
economy people with 5th-grade educations can no longer demand
unaffordable pension and medical plans that add $2,000 to the price of
an American brand car or truck.
So let these fools strike, I say. The result will be cheaper cars for
consumers and gutted "plans" for strikers!
"GM Talks With UAW Go Past Deadline"
"Negotiations Move Into Morning With Hourly Extension"
By Sholnn Freeman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 15, 2007; D01
Negotiators for General Motors and the United Auto Workers union
continued to bargain past their midnight deadline this morning,
apparently signaling at least some progress toward a labor contract
that analysts have called pivotal for both sides.
The UAW's existing contracts with GM, Ford and Chrysler were to have
expired at midnight. The union agreed Thursday to extend its accords
with Ford and Chrysler but remained in intensive negotiations with GM,
pressing the nation's largest automaker to reach a deal or face the
possibility of a walkout by workers.
Shortly after the deadline passed, a local union official in Warren,
Mich., told Bloomberg News that the two sides had agreed to extend the
contract on an hour-by-hour basis.
The union had mobilized its membership yesterday in anticipation of
the deadline, union officials said. Local union leaders said they were
told that negotiations with GM had hit a "hangup" and that they were
instructed to be on alert for a possible strike.
"They just said we need to be ready," said Eldon Renaud, president of
Local 2164 in Bowling Green, Ky., where GM's Chevrolet Corvette is
Local officials have delegated strike captains and let people know
when they might have to walk the picket line, Renaud said. On Thursday
afternoon, workers from the local were making stakes for picket signs,
and at 4 a.m. yesterday, a union official returned to Kentucky from a
trip to Indianapolis, where he picked up the signs.
Renaud said UAW members in Bowling Green would walk the line in four-
hour intervals starting at midnight if they get a go-ahead phone call
from national union leaders in Detroit. Union members would have to
participate in order to qualify for $200 per week in strike benefits.
The picket is set to take place at the property line of the Bowling
Calls for union preparation for a strike are typical toward the end of
contract negotiations. Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at the
University of California at Berkeley, said the call represented not
only the union's desire to win a good contract but also a dramatic
reference point for the union.
"From the union point of view, it's an important symbol," Shaiken
said. "It's saying, 'We've walked this picket line many times.' This
ties the current negotiations into the last 70 years of what the union
Renaud said he wasn't told what issues were causing the greatest
concern. Sources close to the talks have said UAW President Ronald A.
Gettelfinger has opened up to the possibility of the union taking on
the payments for retirees' health plans, which the automakers now
handle. Collectively, the Big Three automakers have more than $90
billion in unfunded obligations for retiree health care, covering
about 1.5 million working and retired employees.
Analysts yesterday suggested that working out the details of a tax-
exempt trust known as a voluntary employees' benefits association, or
VEBA, was causing problems, though others close to the situation said
talks were continuing smoothly.
"The VEBA has been viewed as crossing the Rubicon," Shaiken said. "But
there's another river on the other side of the Rubicon. That's called
He said the level and the character of the funding remain sticking
points for the union. "Are we talking 80 cents on the dollar or 60?
Are we talking cash or GM stock? It makes a difference."
The last major auto industry strike was in 1998, when the UAW shut
down GM's North American production for 53 days. It cost GM billions
of dollars in profits, as well as U.S. market share that it has never
Analysts have said that a prolonged strike this year is highly
unlikely because it represented what one called "mutually assured
GM, like the other Detroit automakers, is undergoing a major overhaul
of North American operations. In 2005, GM worked out an agreement with
the union to reduce retiree health care liabilities by about 25
percent, yielding yearly savings of about $1 billion. The union also
agreed to a buyout program that reduced the number of GM's U.S. hourly
employees by 34,000. GM is closing 12 manufacturing facilities by 2008
and sold major assets as part of the overhaul.
GM officials say they still need deep cuts to health-care costs to
stay competitive with foreign automakers building cars and trucks in
the United States. GM has about 432,000 retirees, compared with the
1,200 for the foreign companies in the United States.
The UAW, for its part, has been losing members for years, and any
appearance of the UAW as a belligerent union could scare workers in
foreign-owned auto plants that the union is trying to organize.