United Auto Workers began nationwide strike at General Motors

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Serraph105

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#1 Serraph105
Member since 2007 • 34112 Posts

https://www.npr.org/2019/09/15/760979821/uaw-announce-nationwide-strike-to-begin-before-midnight-sunday

The United Auto Workers began a nationwide strike just before midnight on Sunday at General Motors after both sides failed to agree on a new contract over issues including wages, health care and profit-sharing.

Production across the U.S. is expected to be halted until a new contract is hammered out, affecting nearly 50,000 workers at 33 manufacturing plants in nine states as well as 22 parts distribution warehouses.

"At midnight tonight, the picket lines will go up," the UAW's Brian Rothenberg said at a news conference in Detroit on Sunday. "But basically, when the morning shift would have reported for work, they won't be there. The picket lines are being set up."

Night-shift workers at a plant in Bedford, Ind., that makes transmission castings and other parts shut off their machines and went home, Dave Green, a worker, told The Associated Press.

Green, who transferred from the now-closed GM car factory in Lordstown, Ohio, said: "This is not about us. It's about the future."

The strike is the first against GM since a two-day walkout in 2007.

On Saturday, union officials allowed their contract to lapse around midnight. GM leadership has sought to contain the company's health care costs, but union leadership said workers refuse to agree to a contract that makes health care more expensive for them.

"While we are fighting for better wages, affordable quality health care, and job security, GM refuses to put hard working Americans ahead of their record profits," UAW Vice President Terry Dittes said in a statement. "We don't take this lightly."

Officials at GM said in a statement to NPR that the company "presented a strong offer that improves wages, benefits and grows U.S. jobs in substantive ways and it is disappointing that the UAW leadership has chosen to strike."

Kristin Dziczek, vice president of the Center for Automotive Research, an independent research organization, said both sides are looking at the prospect of a weakening economy.

"The company and the union look at the very same set of economic fundamentals and see the same writing on the wall and have different motivations," Dziczek said.

"The company looks at that and says, 'Well, if we hit a downturn, we want to be able to have contingent compensation, so we don't get locked into paying higher costs if the market softens.' That same set of economic facts drives the union to want more guaranteed and certain compensation: base wage increases," she said.

Dziczek said the strike would have to last more than a month to affect inventory at car dealerships. But she said the impact will ripple fast across North America.

"There's great reliance on cross-border trade in engines and transmissions and other parts to support production in Canada and Mexico, so it wouldn't take long before Canada and Mexico were also shut down," she said.

Some of the major sticking points include the cost of health insurance and pay raises demanded by workers. GM made $8.1 billion in profits last year.

GM has announced closing four factories and the union has been fighting those decisions. GM says the average hourly employee makes about $90,000 a year. The UAW's Ted Krumm said the union will not make concessions.

"This strike is about us. It's about standing up for fair wages, for affordable, quality health care, for our share of profits and for our job security," Krumm said at a Sunday news conference.

The move to strike comes as legal troubles follow the union. A federal corruption scandal has led to guilty pleas by five people in the UAW. The FBI has raided the home of Gary Jones, the union's current president. Some workers have called on Jones to step down amid the probe, which has accused some union officials of hiding bribes and embezzling money from the union.

Well this is certainly interesting. In spite of the fact that we have significantly weakened union power in America over the decades, the United Auto Workers union is making a go of a strike to help benefit the workers in the US to get better benefits, better pay, and even re-open plants that were recently shuttered for work that went overseas.

I hope this works out for them, and I hope it helps to turn around the way people view unions in the country and support them for a change. Maybe we will begin to support teacher and nursing unions as well. A few years back in Wisconsin we chose to further break those particular unions, maybe this will be different.

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LJS9502_basic

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#2 LJS9502_basic
Member since 2003 • 167375 Posts

@Serraph105: Never understood why Americans take the side of the elite over normal employees. No CEO needs to make the money they make while taking from the labor.

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Serraph105

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#3 Serraph105
Member since 2007 • 34112 Posts

@LJS9502_basic said:

@Serraph105: Never understood why Americans take the side of the elite over normal employees. No CEO needs to make the money they make while taking from the labor.

It's hard to fathom, but honestly I think it's a mindset that's highly based in class. Fast food workers *don't deserve* to be paid more, teachers are part of the lower class as well despite that fact they are highly valuable, auto workers are more middle class so maybe they deserve a bit more in people's minds (maybe), rich people are part of the elite class and because they give other people jobs (sometimes) they are worth far more protection than the rest of the schlubs so make sure they get richer and stay part of the elite class of people.

We really need to do a better job of understanding that there is a class system in our country, and do a much much better job of making it easy for mobility between the classes.

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Master_Live

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#4  Edited By Master_Live
Member since 2004 • 19747 Posts

Well, one's gotta do what one's gotta do.

Regarding this:

GM has announced closing four factories and the union has been fighting those decisions.

Fighting how? By giving concessions regarding benefits so those plants stay open? Otherwise, you don't get say on whether a factory closes or not (unless it is written in their contracts that they get an input?).

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comp_atkins

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#5 comp_atkins
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not knowing any of the details of their current ( or former ) contracts...

"average hourly employee makes about $90,000 a year"

but damn... that is not too shabby.

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phbz

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#6 phbz
Member since 2009 • 4715 Posts

@LJS9502_basic: To me it seems like a by-product of the cold war and the propaganda used during that time. Those times are long gone but much of the discourse is still very present in the collective thinking. Even the way some people react to the idea of "free" education and health as "this sounds like communism to me" but not to the trillions spent on the military.

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#7 Solaryellow
Member since 2013 • 5197 Posts

@comp_atkins said:

not knowing any of the details of their current ( or former ) contracts...

"average hourly employee makes about $90,000 a year"

but damn... that is not too shabby.

For an assembly line job, no, it seems quite generous.

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#8  Edited By LeicaM6
Member since 2019 • 131 Posts

@LJS9502_basic: It has a lot to do with the fact that the left in America has been dead for 50 years, and the myth of the “American dream” has fooled the lower and middle classes that they are not actually part of the proletariat, but “temporarily embarrassed millionaires”. This also explains why you’ll have individuals who are just barely scraping by still voting for low taxes on the rich, because they seem themselves as one day “making it big” and joining the upper class. So they themselves don’t want to pay those higher tax rates.

Obviously, we know this not to be true. Social mobility in the US has all but evaporated in the present day and it’s all but certain that the social class that you are born into, will be the same one that you die in. The rich in the US have managed to manipulate the system so much they have poor people fighting other poor people while the rich plunder the pockets of everyone else.

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joebones5000

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#9 joebones5000
Member since 2016 • 2797 Posts

Private union? I don't care. I hope they get what they want out of GM.

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Sevenizz

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#10 Sevenizz
Member since 2010 • 4091 Posts

I’ve only ever purchased GM cars. It’s one of my favourite brands. This strike does not sit well with me. Employees already make a ridiculously high wage compared to others in the manufacturing industry. Also, with Mexico continually looking more attractive, it’s a dangerous game to bite the hand that feeds you. Does Mexico even have a automotive union?

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LJS9502_basic

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#11  Edited By LJS9502_basic
Member since 2003 • 167375 Posts

@Sevenizz said:

I’ve only ever purchased GM cars. It’s one of my favourite brands. This strike does not sit well with me. Employees already make a ridiculously high wage compared to others in the manufacturing industry. Also, with Mexico continually looking more attractive, it’s a dangerous game to bite the hand that feeds you. Does Mexico even have a automotive union?

Wages aren't the sticking point per se. Healthcare is one issue.

Edit: And if Mexico is looking more attractive why doesn't the CEO et al take less? Also congrats on wanting to be a third world country with your comparison to Mexico.

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Serraph105

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#12 Serraph105
Member since 2007 • 34112 Posts

@Sevenizz said:

I’ve only ever purchased GM cars. It’s one of my favourite brands. This strike does not sit well with me. Employees already make a ridiculously high wage compared to others in the manufacturing industry. Also, with Mexico continually looking more attractive, it’s a dangerous game to bite the hand that feeds you. Does Mexico even have a automotive union?

How do you stand by the idea of wanting the economy to do better, but not having the people in it get to also do better as a result? Is it just fear of people asking for a raise that the people in charge responding in an extra shitty way about it?

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mrbojangles25

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#13 mrbojangles25
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@Serraph105 said:
@LJS9502_basic said:

@Serraph105: Never understood why Americans take the side of the elite over normal employees. No CEO needs to make the money they make while taking from the labor.

It's hard to fathom, but honestly I think it's a mindset that's highly based in class. Fast food workers *don't deserve* to be paid more, teachers are part of the lower class as well despite that fact they are highly valuable, auto workers are more middle class so maybe they deserve a bit more in people's minds (maybe), rich people are part of the elite class and because they give other people jobs (sometimes) they are worth far more protection than the rest of the schlubs so make sure they get richer and stay part of the elite class of people.

We really need to do a better job of understanding that there is a class system in our country, and do a much much better job of making it easy for mobility between the classes.

This. The problem with the whole class system is that no one is just "a little poor". Usually you are catastrophically poor, to the point where you simply shouldn't even bother trying to make it to the middle class.

Likewise, the ocean you have to cross to get from blue-collar middle class to white-collar upper-middle class (and from white-collar middle class to the 1%) is simply massive.

Pride is another factor: I make an OK wage and work hard for it. If I find out a fast-food worker is being paid as much as I am, well, that would piss me off.

My issue should be with my company not paying me enough, but that's generally not how it would be handled as.

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Horgen

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#14 Horgen  Moderator
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@mrbojangles25: You should also ask yourself how a company can value a fast food worker so much. He must do something extraordinary. :P

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#15 Sevenizz
Member since 2010 • 4091 Posts

@LJS9502_basic: Hey, Mexico is already a big threat to the US and Canadian automotive industry. Denying reality is just stupid.

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#16 Jacanuk
Member since 2011 • 19038 Posts

@Serraph105: Well, this is interesting especially when they work in an industry where the companies can save a lot of hassle and also money by simply closing the planet and moving it to Mexico or Asia.

But good luck to these workers.

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#17 Jacanuk
Member since 2011 • 19038 Posts
@comp_atkins said:

not knowing any of the details of their current ( or former ) contracts...

"average hourly employee makes about $90,000 a year"

but damn... that is not too shabby.

Nope, which is why I bet that you will see this plant and more close within the next 5 years and move abroad.

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#18 mattbbpl
Member since 2006 • 17529 Posts

First the coal miners wanting their pensions to be honored, and now this. Who do these workers think they are? They're not supposed to be economic beneficiaries.

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#19 HoolaHoopMan
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@comp_atkins said:

not knowing any of the details of their current ( or former ) contracts...

"average hourly employee makes about $90,000 a year"

but damn... that is not too shabby.

I would need to put that number into context. Is that close to the industry average? GM posted 8.1 billion dollars in profit. 90k is certainly higher than your average American salary, but that doesn't mean they're being under/overpaid for their industry.

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#20 comp_atkins
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@HoolaHoopMan: yup. i don't know how it relates to industry averages. on the profit side, the raw number is pretty meaningless w/o additional context ( how much revenue, etc... )

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#21  Edited By SaltSlasher
Member since 2015 • 1346 Posts

@Serraph105: Except average folk don't decide what people should be. I don't know anyone who thinks teachers make too much money. Everyone already knows its fucked up that they have to buy their own supplies. Having to try and entertain kids, isn't cheap.

It would be amazing if schools had to draft teachers the way they sports do with athletes. Cause really, better teachers mean better community. It's not like we submit our taxes with where we feel they should go. I have no answers, but would be nice if someone fixed everything.

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#22 Serraph105
Member since 2007 • 34112 Posts

@saltslasher: "I don't know anyone who thinks teachers make too much money. Everyone already knows its fucked up that they have to buy their own supplies."

Sure, people say that, but the story has remained the same over the decades. Some might believe that the people just keep getting duped by politicians over and over, but personally I believe that our collective actions speak louder than our words.

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#23 Gatygun
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@Master_Live said:

Well, one's gotta do what one's gotta do.

Regarding this:

GM has announced closing four factories and the union has been fighting those decisions.

Fighting how? By giving concessions regarding benefits so those plants stay open? Otherwise, you don't get say on whether a factory closes or not (unless it is written in their contracts that they get an input?).

Dropping work at the other plants, and basically let them go bankrupt while they are at.

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#24 PraetorianMan
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I’d be careful if the 90k average hourly salary figure. GM never specified what “hourly worker” meant, and that number likely includes and is being inflated by people who are pretty high up on the corporate ladder who work “hourly”.

Also this event pretty much tells you everything you need to know about how well the corporate tax cut and “trickle down economics” actually works for normal people

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LJS9502_basic

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#25 LJS9502_basic
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@PraetorianMan said:

I’d be careful if the 90k average hourly salary figure. GM never specified what “hourly worker” meant, and that number likely includes and is being inflated by people who are pretty high up on the corporate ladder who work “hourly”.

Also this event pretty much tells you everything you need to know about how well the corporate tax cut and “trickle down economics” actually works for normal people

Yeah I think that's too high so I googled it and according to GM their assembly line workers average 30,000 a year. Big difference.

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#26 Horgen  Moderator
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@LJS9502_basic said:
@PraetorianMan said:

I’d be careful if the 90k average hourly salary figure. GM never specified what “hourly worker” meant, and that number likely includes and is being inflated by people who are pretty high up on the corporate ladder who work “hourly”.

Also this event pretty much tells you everything you need to know about how well the corporate tax cut and “trickle down economics” actually works for normal people

Yeah I think that's too high so I googled it and according to GM their assembly line workers average 30,000 a year. Big difference.

It would also be interesting to know the median income in this case.

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#27 comp_atkins
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@LJS9502_basic said:
@PraetorianMan said:

I’d be careful if the 90k average hourly salary figure. GM never specified what “hourly worker” meant, and that number likely includes and is being inflated by people who are pretty high up on the corporate ladder who work “hourly”.

Also this event pretty much tells you everything you need to know about how well the corporate tax cut and “trickle down economics” actually works for normal people

Yeah I think that's too high so I googled it and according to GM their assembly line workers average 30,000 a year. Big difference.

it is also possible the $90K number is total "compensation" not just salary. taking into account things like healthcare benefits, retirement matching, etc....

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#28  Edited By JimB
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It is not only current workers costs figured in the cost of a car but retirees. Also the hourly pay is affected by your employment date. Before 2007 the hourly pay range was $28 to $38 an hour. after 2007 it was $12 to $20 an an hour. That is before any benefits are factored in which constantly changing. In 2009 the government had to bail out GM and Chrysler. GM could not get rid of employees they no longer needed they reported to a room and killed time for eight hours getting full pay benefits and vacation. I think that was eliminated after the bailout in 2009.

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#29 ronvalencia
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@Serraph105: This is why GM is not competitive and driving GM into another cliff.

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#30 Master_Live
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#31  Edited By Nuck81
Member since 2005 • 7803 Posts

@comp_atkins:

@comp_atkins said:
@LJS9502_basic said:
@PraetorianMan said:

I’d be careful if the 90k average hourly salary figure. GM never specified what “hourly worker” meant, and that number likely includes and is being inflated by people who are pretty high up on the corporate ladder who work “hourly”.

Also this event pretty much tells you everything you need to know about how well the corporate tax cut and “trickle down economics” actually works for normal people

Yeah I think that's too high so I googled it and according to GM their assembly line workers average 30,000 a year. Big difference.

it is also possible the $90K number is total "compensation" not just salary. taking into account things like healthcare benefits, retirement matching, etc....

As an employer, all of those things are considered compensation. It's more than just the check you give them every week

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#32 foxhound_fox
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Just what GM wants, so they can justify shuttering all the factories on US soil and move all production to China.

But then again, companies like Toyota are opening NEW factories on US soil despite the industry's "high income workers" making "demands" for more money, so it really makes you wonder just how profitable GM really is these days.

They should never have survived the recession.