Unionized auto workers protest concession targets for bailout

January 11, 2009

Several dozen angry United Auto Workers union members marched with pickets outside the Detroit auto show on Sunday, protesting the givebacks the Bush administration is trying to squeeze from them in return for bailout funds needed by General Motors and Chrysler.


The $17.4 billion federal bailout of GM and Chrysler announced in December includes concessions aimed at the UAW, including lowering union wages and benefits to the same level as foreign carmakers’ U.S. plants by December 2009, and eliminating the jobs bank, in which idled workers receive pay and benefits. 


The group of some 50 or more workers marched up and down outside the conference center in chilly but sunny weather, chanting such slogans as “Bush says cut back, we say fight back” and holding signs including “No millionaire left behind” and “Out of a job yet? Keep buying foreign.”


The UAW, which made landmark givebacks on wages and health benefits in its 2007 negotiations with the companies, has called the conditions attached to the loans unfair and promised to work with the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama to have them removed from the loan agreements. GM officials said talks with the UAW about further concessions has begun.


“The concessions that Bush wants us to make are just a slap in our faces,” said Tammy Jones, a furnace worker at Chrysler’s Hamtramck axle plant in Detroit.




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Why is the tax payer bailing out any failing corporation, it is time for these troubled firms to re-structure. Too bad for the overpaid and underworked union workers, besides, call it political payback, they didn’t vote for Republicans, now they demand Bush give them something, they truly must be crazy.

Posted by Leroy Jenkins | Report as abusive

They never intended to make any concessions, they knew the Democrats would never force them to. And that 2007 labor contract? Applied only to NEW hires, existing workers and gold-plated retirement packages weren’t touched. Easy to “give back” on new hires when you know the autos aren’t going to be hiring for a long time.

The UAW will never give an inch to keep the Big 3 afloat. After all, why should they?

They know Obama and the Democratic Congress will force the taxpayer to cover them, they don’t have to give up a penny. Your new savior will raise taxes to pay for these goldbrickers in the teeth of a recession, and you will have to smile while he does it to you.

Posted by Joe | Report as abusive

It’s truly unfortunate that the UAW’s Job Bank is on the chopping block, about to go the way of the dinosaur. I never heard of such an powerful and innovative tool to keep jobs from being outsourced to foreign countries.
I wish more companies had them. There might be a lot less unemployed people if there were.

Removing the UAW’s right to strike is a Presidential preogative. I’m unconvinced that this is right use for it. It’s not like all transportation will grind to a halt like airlines or railroads strikes. This makes reasonable negotitations completely one sided.

I used to be against the UAWs position but as time drags on, I find myself rooting for the little guy. Hang tough guys! Not all of non UAW citizens are against you.

Posted by AS | Report as abusive

The senators from the southern states that are loaded with foreign factories, (subsidized by the states with taxpayers money) keep saying the Union must give up the “Legacy costs to Automakers” Why don’t they just use the proper word for legacy cost, which is retirees! The only mistake U.S. automakers made that makes them not totally competitive with foreign manufacturers was providing thousands of jobs for American workers for decades. Now they are being punished for being the only source of manufacturing in the U,S. The administration wants them to dump the retirees and put them on the Welfare and Medicaid roles to “level the playing field”. They have already discontinued the “Job banks”, and start workers at half the pay of the foreign plants. Now you want to raid the pensions? Why don’t we just put the congress and senate on social security. They would fix SS in a hurry, and the loss of their extravagent pensions, (100% for life), would provide money for other programs.

Posted by don baker | Report as abusive

Its time for auto workers to consider other professions. Only 12% of the country’s workers are unionized. While I don’t believe that unions are the sole reason for the domestic automobile meltdown I do think its a major contributor. Companies cannot afford to support their retired workers in the long term. Elimination of unions would bring cheaper cars to all of us.

Posted by Joseph | Report as abusive

Lehman, AIG, the list is long and the road is winding on how many fat-cat execs get your tax dollars with no job creation in their business, no real GNP addition, and no restrictions. So a few hourly people want help against a tough economic foe to prevent otherwise paying for their unemployment and health care, and people whine it is too much.

Posted by jammer | Report as abusive

The Free trade agreements have created a wage race to the bottom. Let the Politicians and Executives join that race not the middle class workers. The Middle class can’t maintain a decent standard of living or boost the economy right now. That $2.00 shirt at Wal-Mart seems cheap but the consumer only has a dollar to spend.

Posted by t jefferson | Report as abusive

Thanks AS we appreciate the support from knowledgeable non union citizens such as yourself. We have been demonized by a disgruntled Media and Americans that lay their frustrations of a mismanaged economy on the autoworkers of America. I personally worked at the award winning most efficient plant in North America and no it wasn’t a nonunion Toyota plant it was the Toledo Jeep Plant (UAW). So this talk of lazy goldbrickers is a load of bunk fed by a non thinking public. The job bank is not an American union icon, it is a practice that the American domestic Automakers adopted from the Japanese when they transformed the old ways to the new ways. I’ve never partaken in any job bank as I would say over 95% of UAW members did not either. So all you union haters think about what you say and from where you get your information.

Posted by wolfman | Report as abusive

I understand the frustration of the folks walking the picket line. Our own government has been cozy with all the transplants coming to the US, and we turn a blind eye to the US workers and it’s time everyone wake’s up or there will be no jobs for your’s or my children. I was once skeptacle about the UAW but know I am on their side. It has got to stop and all the banks CEO’s get off scot free and we the back bone of this country keep getting pushed further and further down the economic scale. Again, make a stand and call all your political leaders today, support american dollars not the YEN, and this is what happens with foriegn companys, all the profits go back over sea’s the $$$$$ does not stay in America.
Things to think about:
Congress term limits 2 terms
Stop Congress on voting for their own raises
Stop paying for health care for all elected leaders, after all they are part time employees.
No full time retirement for Senators or Congress when they leave, we dont get it after 10-20-30 years on a job.
Make congress pay into social security
Stop all compainies from paying CEO’s outraeous salaries, make them adjustable to reflect performance.

Posted by norman50 | Report as abusive

These big ailing companies have to fix their own problems and not rely on taxpayers to do it. Instead of a bailout how about they call for bringing an end to world trade organizations that are the main part of the root-cause of this dilemma. They should be screaming for trade policy change, national sovereignty and sound congressional monetary practices not for handouts from an over-taxed/inflated money supply. $17.4 billion dollars is a heck of alot of money. The fact that we see billions being tossed around like the flight of a one winged bumble bee should not diminish the real meaning behind this amount of money. Perhaps everyone should pull out of the UAW and form a new union corporation and buy-out these handout-reliant bums that sit nicely on their private jets as they go to meet with our elected officials. Washington has their finger on our abilities in our nation. We used to be more self-reliant meaning we produced over 90% of what we consumed. We don’t need steel from china. We don’t need food from China. We don’t need crops picked by foreign work forces. We don’t need oil from the middle east. We don’t need another $40,000 new car. We don’t need world organizations setting our playing field for us. We are Americans and certainly capable of handling our own responsibilities. We’re just extremely out of practice with the concept of individual responsibility and very well versed in government dependence. We need to bring it home to our people and set the example or just go ahead and write our Delcaration of Dependance: When in the course of human events….

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

Ah, capitalism at work -NOT!. Why doesn’t Congress along with the auto manufacturers look at all the causes of the problem, which, as I see it are the following just to name a few: building vehicles that aren’t competitive, wages that aren’t competitive, blue sky for executive’s total compensation (is anyone worth what they make and do they need corporate jets for jaunts about the country?). How about American vehicles (yes, I realize that “foreign” autos are built here and “American” autos are build everywhere but) that actually fill the NEED of buyers when those needs are actually researched? How about wages AND BENEFITS that are compatible with the amount of work done and the training needed to prepare for that job whether it is on the line or in the executive office? Come on, politicans, how about spending OUR money as you would spend your own, if you had as little left as we do after feeding, clothing and housing your families, educating them (I use the term loosely) using the public education system, paying for our own transportation (whether vehicles, airfare, etc.) How about us paying taxes that would be just enough to cover the expenses of all the government than we NEED if it was spent wisely?
Now I will go out and bury my head in the snow so I can cool off.

Posted by Carolyn | Report as abusive

This article should have read…

“Several dozen thankful United Auto Workers union members marched with thank-you pickets outside the Detroit auto show on Sunday thanking the Bush administration for saving their cushy over-paid jobs…”

No matter how much money the government throws at them – the market will destroy these companies. The number of consumers that have no interest in supporting this sloth is only growing (I’ve worked in three different automotive plants first hand – so please save the typical union BS for someone else).

Really, their behaviour is beyond disturbing – did their parents not teach them anything?

Posted by Dan Barnes | Report as abusive

There is more than an 80% probability that GM will have to go chapter 11.

Posted by don wilson | Report as abusive