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Despite Fears of Rejection, Workers at Ford, GM Ratify Contracts

Approval frees union leaders to shift focus to new organizing efforts.

by on Nov.21, 2015

GM and UAW officials shown on July 13, 2015 marking the opening of contract talk.

Workers at both Ford Motor Co. and General Motors voted to accept each of their new four-year contract offers, in the process ending what had turned into an unexpectedly contentious round of negotiations – workers at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles soundly rejecting their own first contract offer.

A variety of offers pitted not only the United Auto Workers Union against Detroit’s Big Three but also saw the UAW having to fend off more militant members of the union. Starting with President Dennis Williams on down, Autoworkers leaders mobilized to sell a revised Chrysler contract. But they continued to run into trouble even with more lucrative offers from GM and Ford.

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At the smaller of the two, 51.3% of production workers and 52.4% of Ford’s skilled tradesmen voted for the contract. Among other things, that vote will earn 53,000 Ford workers ratification bonuses of $8,500.

“Through a fair and democratic process UAW-Ford members have delivered job security and strong economic gains for their families and communities,” said Jimmy Settles, vice president of the UAW’s Ford department.

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UAW Declines to Pick Target for Talks

UAW's Williams says negotiations with makers on track.

by on Sep.08, 2015

UAW President Dennis Williams said talks with the automakers were "about where we should be" during Detroit's Labor Day parade.

With contract talks entering their final week, the United Auto Workers is holding off naming a target company for finishing off the talks by next week’s deadline, marking a significant change from past contract discussions.The union’s labor contracts with Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and FCA U.S. all expire at 11:59 p.m. Sept 14. Neither the union or the automakers have said much about the negotiations through the summer.

The union usually picks one company as the focus of the negotiations as the deadline approaches. The decision to name a target not only expedites the negotiations, but also allows both sides to clarify key objectives and issues.

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During the Labor Day parade, workers handed out leaflets calling attention to the need to eliminate the two-tier wage system and both workers on the first and second tier a pay increase. Senior workers haven’t had a pay increase in 10 years, the leaflet noted, and have lost purchasing power in the last two contracts. (more…)

Top Labor Negotiators Leave GM, FCA

Departures highlight differences in upcoming union talks.

by on Jun.11, 2015

Cathy Clegg is taking over as the lead negotiator for GM in its talks with the UAW for the recently retired Rex Blackwell.

Even as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne pushes for merger talks with rival General Motors, the two companies are on different paths when it comes to negotiations with the United Auto Workers.

GM has carefully orchestrated a series of announcements of new investments in plants in places such as: Pontiac, Lansing and Grand Rapids, Michigan, plus Arlington, Texas, and Kansas City, Kansas, in recent weeks.

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In each case, the announcement, which have involved several GM executives, including GM CEO Mary Barra, have underscored the company’s commitment to preserving and even adding jobs at plants in the U.S., covered by the automaker’s labor contract with the United Auto Workers. (more…)

Will UAW Accept More Profit Sharing?

As union opens pre-bargaining conference, automakers set their own strategy.

by on Mar.23, 2011

UAW President Bob King has a tough round of negotiations coming up.

After granting billions of dollars in concessions to help Detroit makers survive the U.S. auto industry’s worst downturn in decades, union workers are looking for some givebacks when they return to the bargaining table this year.  But they may have to share the risks, rather than simply get the enhanced pay and benefits workers could have traditionally expected, observers caution.

The United Auto Workers Union’s senior leaders are gathered in Detroit, this week, to lay out their demands – and work out strategy to go up against makers who are now pushing back into the black while still professing serious financial problems.

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The challenge for the UAW’s new President Bob King will be to navigate a narrow path that would make workers happy, keep Detroit’s Big Three healthy – and head off a potential confrontation that could sour what has become the most positive working relationship between labor and management since the union gained a seat at the table, following the angry confrontations of the 1920s and ‘30s.

“It’s not going to be easy for Bob,” said a well-placed union source asking for anonymity prior to the start of the UAW convention.  “He clearly understands that the auto companies are not out of the woods.  But he also knows he can’t go back to workers and expect them to approve contracts that don’t make up some of their losses.”

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UAW Aiming to Recover Big Three Concessions

Union setting course for Detroit contract talks later this year.

by on Mar.17, 2011

Bulldozed by Caterpillar?

As the United Auto Workers prepares to talk about future strategy, the UAW’s course may have already been staked out during the union’s recent negotiations with Caterpillar Tractor Co., in Peoria, Illinois.

While Detroit workers may be hoping to get back some of the big concessions they’ve made over recent years, the union agreed to a contract with Caterpillar including no raises for long-term or first-tier employees and a substantial boost in health care premiums.

Caterpillar workers ratified the new six-year contract, which doesn’t expire until 2017, at the beginning of March.  The settlement sets out a bargaining pattern just as the UAW’s leadership prepares to turn its attention to talks with General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group – negotiations set to begin over the summer.

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The Caterpillar contract has served as the template for changes in the union’s contracts with Detroit’s automakers. Two-tier wages, the Voluntary Employee Benefit Association, or VEBA, as well as the wider use of temporary workers were all ideas first introduced during the union’s often contentious bargaining at Caterpillar.

In addition, all three automakers are certain to come under heavy pressure from Wall Street to match the terms won by Caterpillar in its new labor pact with the UAW – even though union leaders have been making noises suggesting they will push to gain back some of the concessions they’ve already given to Detroit’s Big Three..

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Autoworkers Plan Auto Show Protest

Disgruntled workers want bigger share of industry turnaround.

by on Jan.04, 2011

UAW activists want the newly-resilient Detroit automakers to share some of their wealth.

Disgruntled auto workers are planning to demonstrate outside the North American International Auto Show again this year just as United Auto Workers President Bob King is scheduled to launch a charm offensive the union’s top brass hope will coax workers from non-union plants into joining the UAW.

The demonstration is set for January 9, the day before the Detroit Auto Show’s official press days.

The disgruntled workers are demanding greater militancy from King and the rest of the union leadership, which has committed to finding a way to compromise with executives at General Motors, Ford and Chrysler as well as other automakers.  The UAW has made numerous concessions since 2007, when the last round of domestic contract negotiations took place – and the protests will argue that workers now deserve some of those concession back in light of the profits being rolled up by Detroit’s Big Three.

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Automakers, on the other hand will be under pressure to protect their new profits in order to pay off debt and to satisfy investors, looking for their own share of the carmakers income.

The contrast on display at the auto show is very likely to shape the union’s approach to the negotiations with the domestic carmakers later this year. King is expected to ask for a larger share of company profits in an effort to appease his critics inside the union.

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