Saturday, September 17, 2011

GM Deal

The NY Times has a thin-on-background article today about the first union-management deal (tentative) between GM and the UAW since the bankruptcy. A few choice excerpts:
The deal will help G.M.’s 48,500 union workers share in the company’s turnaround and should give them more job security, two top priorities for the U.A.W., though the tenuous nature of the economic recovery will continue to inject some uncertainty.
Wha? The economy may actually affect job security? It didn't during the greatest recession since the great depression caused exclusively by Bush, so why would it going forward? Of course like all evil management fascists, GM wanted job security tied to making better products, although one has to wonder if either considers ignoring warranties on cars purchased under the "old GM" as a good way to gain consumer trust. Oh well, in just a few years they would have been void anyway!
The union said in a statement that it had successfully fought G.M.’s proposals to weaken retirement benefits and obtain major concessions to health benefits.
Two same two areas are killing the post office, another large union entity backed by the government (difference being that GM has a fairly sustainable business model while the USPS is on par with the pony express). At least this agreement seems to maintain some kind of profit-sharing productivity/quality incentive, something gleaned from reading between the lines as it wasn't part of King's talking points.

Not to bash every union auto worker--they need their jobs like everyone else and many are surely working hard to turn around their companies and save their futures--but the union leadership needs to get real about who turned around' GM, a company that would currently be out of business if they weren't so large and connected and essential, like the evil AIG.

Anyway, with a GM agreement in hand they move on to the other two..
In its tradition of pattern bargaining, the union is expected to seek similar terms from Chrysler and Ford. But it is likely to have more difficulty doing so than in the past, given the disparate conditions of the three companies. The union is expected to focus on achieving a deal at Chrysler before turning to Ford.
Ford (quality is job one) is going to be the real challenge since they didn't take the bailout-bankruptcy route and just recently made a commercial mocking that very thing...

Wonder, were those fighting words? Both GM and Chrysler workers agreed not to strike through 2015 but Ford workers are not bound to such an agreement.

Unsurprisingly the Times made no mention of the UAW's stake in GM through the VEBA health care trust, which seems to own over 12 percent of the company. Of course, the AP didn't either, but they did mention comments from King about the goal of organizing the non-union auto plants across the country at some point.

No shocker--that's what unions do--but the question is how they'll do it in a new political environment where the president seems OK with union leaders threatening to 'take out' their adversaries--even if those adversaries are fed-up taxpayers who bailed out their companies. King is demanding direct UAW board representation at the big three, including Ford, so it should be interesting to watch.

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