Unionized auto workers protest concession targets for bailout
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.