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UAW on Offensive over its part in GM Restructuring

Reuther tells Congress news coverage and editorials are wrong.

by on May.29, 2009

Photo Leticia Quesada, courtesy of UAW Local 2244

The union, with uncharacteristic aggressiveness, took on the media.

The United Auto Workers Union yesterday told United States Representatives and Senators that recent news stories, editorials and op-eds about the restructuring plan at General Motors have a number of “inaccurate assertions” about the shares of equity in a New GM that will be distributed after it emerges from bankruptcy. has reported that the U.S. Treasury Department had revised an offer to angry, holdout bondholders, who claim that they are not being fairly treated in General Motors Corporation’s revised viability plan that gave them 10% of the new company to settle more than $27 billion in debt. Bondholders say the UAW is getting a better deal.

Treasury now challenges bondholders to accept the 10% stake in a reorganized GM as originally proposed by GM, and eventually another 15% of the new company will be offered by way of stock warrants.

The U.S. government will receive an initial allocation of 72.5% of the equity in the new company.

The UAW in its latest lobbying and p.r. push wanted to be sure that everyone understood that the bondholders not only will receive an initial allocation of 10% of the equity, but thee are now warrants that can result in their receiving “substantially more.”    (more…)

UAW Vote on Revised GM Contract Proceeding

Asian imports are not directly addressed in the agreement.

by on May.28, 2009

UAW Vice President Cal Rapson, photo: Rebecca Cook

Union protests appear to have stymied, for the moment anyway, GM's plans to import large numbers of cars from abroad.

Members of the United Auto Workers Union are expected to vote to accept more concessions as part of revised contract with General Motors Corporation, including a ban on strikes until 2015. GM needs the concessions to survive and the union has no choice but to give them, observed one local union leader. “Ron Gettelfinger and Cal Rapson did about as well as they could do,” he added.

UAW local union leadership representing UAW members at General Motors facilities across the country voted unanimously on  Tuesday to recommend for ratification a new settlement agreement that modifies the 2007 UAW-GM National Agreement as well as changes to the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association trust for retiree health care.

As usual, the UAW is not releasing details of the agreement until after the vote is completed later this week. The agreement reduces the number of skilled trade classifications – long a point of contention inside GM plants – to just three for electrical, mechanical and tool and die trades. The sweeping consolidation of skilled trade classifications had long been sought, unsuccessfully, by GM’s management.

While not part of the latest contract, union protests appear to have stymied, for the moment anyway, GM’s plans to import large numbers of cars from abroad. The new GM plan outlined for UAW officials this week also increases the chance that of the four additional assembly plants GM was planning to close, at least three will now be retooled for new products previously slated for GM factories in other countries. The shift came on the heels of intense lobbying blitz by the union that put pressure on GM, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Obama Administration.

GM assembly plants in Orion Township and in Pontiac, Michigan have been on a speculative list of plants targeted for closing, along with GM plants in Wilmington, Delaware, Spring Hill, Tennessee and Shreveport, Louisiana. In fact, union officials in Tennessee last week had publicly pronounced the former Saturn plant Spring Hill plant as good as closed.    (more…)

UAW Strongly Objects to GM’s U.S. Factory Closings

Negotiation deadlock spills over into public lobbying by union.

by on May.18, 2009

Kevin Melton, UAW Local 602, courtesy UAW

The implication is the Auto Task Force has told the union the closings will proceed.

With the 31 May deadline approaching for GM’s revised plan, the United Autoworkers Union on Friday sent a letter to members of the U.S. Congress objecting to the centerpiece of GM’s Viability plan – closing 16 plants in the U.S. and importing vehicles from low-wage, non-unionized countries.

The factory closings are not new, they have been in various versions of the plan since GM went to the U.S. government for bridge loans late, last year, but in bringing the argument over the closings public, the union is attempting to prevent some of them through political pressure after apparently being shut down at the bargaining table. The implication is that the Auto Task Force has told the union that the closings will proceed.

Alan Reuther, UAW Legislative Director, wrote Congress that “As the discussions continue concerning the restructuring of General Motors, the UAW wishes to restate our strong opposition to the company’s plan to close 16 manufacturing facilities in the United States, while at the same time dramatically increasing the number of vehicles it will be importing from Mexico, Korea, Japan and China for sale in this country. We urge Members of Congress to join with the UAW in urging the Obama administration to insist, as part of any further government assistance, that GM should be required to maintain the maximum number of jobs in the U.S., instead of outsourcing more production to these other countries.”

The Chrysler restructuring plan now being worked out in bankruptcy court in New York City also closes U.S. factories and turns the company over to off-shore based Fiat. The factory closings, though, are smaller in number and the small cars and engines that will be supplied by Fiat will be built in the U.S., Canada or Mexico. Furthermore, by getting access to Fiat’s overseas distribution system, exports of Canadian or U.S. made vehicles could increase, preserving or creating UAW jobs.

Subscribe to TheDetroitBureau.comThe core issue the union is raising – U.S. jobs — is an aspect of industrial policy debates that politicians from both the Democratic and Republican parties have ducked for decades. With unemployment at record levels and increasing, our lack of industrial policy is glaringly obvious. Every major nation in the world has policies, laws, tariffs and non-tariff regulations that protect jobs and encourage the export of goods and services into the large, profitable and unrestricted U.S. market.   

U.S. employment continued to decline in April as another 539,000 jobs evaporated to total 13.7 million out of work people, and the unemployment rate rose from 8.5% to 8.9%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since the recession began in December 2007, 5.7 million jobs have been lost. In April, job losses were large and widespread across nearly all major private-sector industries. Overall, private-sector employment fell by 611,000. Over the past 12 months, the number of unemployed persons has risen by 6.0 million, and the unemployment rate has grown by 3.9 percentage points.