The United Auto Workers’ internal battle over a tentative agreement is heating up as the Autoworkers Caravan, long-time critics of the union’s executive board, have begun to circulate a critique of the contract and called for its rejection.
The union has won several narrow ratification votes in recent years, but the margin of safety has been narrowing over the last decade as the UAW has been forced to make concessions in the face of tough economic times.
Dennis Williams, UAW president, told reporters last week he believed the new contract, which includes substantial pay increases for both first- and second-tier workers, would be ratified.
As it stands, long-term employees will be getting their first pay increase in 10 years and new workers hired since the recession appear unwilling to get entangled in even a brief strike.
However, the critique prepared by the Caravan, which is made up of outspoken critics of union policy and practice, said the contract did not go far enough in closing the gap between first- and second-tier workers and recovering the concessions made in agreements going back to 2007.
“We are stuck with two-tier for another four years. The 25% cap on the number of second-tier workers, which was supposed to go into effect at the end of the contract and bring a percentage of them up to top pay, has been trashed.” the critique noted.
“(Sergio) Marchionne says he believes in Equal Pay for Equal Work—but he thinks the legacy workers are too used to a ‘culture of entitlement.’ His plan is to keep a lid on second-tier pay and wait for the first-tier workers to go away,” the criticism of the proposed agreement said.
“By the end of the contract, the pay gap between the lowest paid and the highest paid—working side by side and doing the same work—will still range from $5-10 an hour,” it said.
(UAW moves contract to ratification stage. For more, Click Here.)
Most “in progression”— because with no path to the top they are not “entry level”— workers will not even reach top pay under this contract. This creates multiple tiers.
“FCA can hire all the Temporary Part-Timers (who make less than “in progression” workers) it wants—that’s another tier. If you read the actual language you noticed that Parts and Axle workers have an even lower top rate in the proposed contract,” according to the Autoworkers Caravan.
The inequality of benefits and pensions — which also affected skilled trades hired after October 2007 — has not been rectified and the alternative work schedule isn’t going anywhere. “Saturdays pay, however, will be at time-and-a-quarter instead of straight time. But how does that improve your family life, your social life or your health?” the critique noted.
(Click Here for more details about the tentative deal between FCA and the UAW.)
“They would like us to forget that Cost Of Living Allowance ever existed. Won in the 1950s, COLA was based on the just premise that our wages should keep up with inflation. That premise is treated as obsolete. Our real wages have fallen since our base rates were frozen and COLA was eliminated. Do they think we don’t know who’s pocketing the difference?
“Instead we get — and this is a big maybe — a bunch of bonuses that could amount to little or nothing if the targets aren’t met. Our signing bonus is even less than four years ago,” the criticism, which is being circulated via e-mail and social media noted.
(To see more about Marchionne’s promise of more money to workers, Click Here.)
Wendy Thompson, a long-time union activist, said social media has helped given critics of the UAW’s establishment.