Global Investing

More auto worker protests over Bush concessions

Around 200 union workers and some local politicians protested wage cuts and other givebacks required by the Bush administration’s bailout of General Motors and Chrysler.
    
“The call for wage cuts is an attack on the middle class,” said Rex Lux, a truck driver at Chrysler who said he had come to the rally to show his support for organized labor. “The middle class send their kids to college, they buy cars and they keep the American economy going.”
    
“Why break the middle class?” he asked.
 
The protest in Warren, Michigan, came two days after a smaller rally (pictured above) outside the Detroit auto show by members of the United Auto Workers union.
 
The $17.4 billion federal bailout for the U.S. automakers includes concession targets such as making union-represented workers’ wages competitive with foreign manufacturers by December 2009 and eliminating the union jobs banks, which pays laid-off workers.

(Photo/Reuters)

Sen. Corker to Chrysler: best hope is merger

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker (right, in the driver’s seat next to Mark Fields, Ford’s president of the Americas), who pushed for tough conditions on the $17.4 billion U.S. government bailout for General Motors and Chrysler, said at the Detroit auto show that he hoped Chrysler would find a merger partner to survive.

“Chrysler probably needs to merge with somebody, not necessarily disappear from the standpoint of existence,” said Corker, who added the automaker owned by Cerberus Capital Management was not making the needed investment to remain competitive. He spoke to reporters as he toured the show before meeting with executives for GM, Chrysler and Ford.

Corker, whose home state includes the U.S. headquarters for Japan’s Nissan, also said he felt GM’s debt load was too heavy and it may not meet the restructuring targets set out under the $13.4 billion loan granted to the company by the Bush administration.

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.”