“DETROIT (AP) - Thousands of United Auto Workers walked off the job at GM plants around the country Monday in the first nationwide strike during auto contract negotiations since 1976.
UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said the union launched the strike after "one-sided negotiations" failed to reach an agreement.
"It was going to be General Motors' way at the expense of the workers," Gettelfinger said. "The company walked right up to the deadline like they really didn't care."
Workers walked off the job and began picketing Monday outside GM plants after the 11 a.m. UAW strike deadline passed. The UAW has 73,000 members who work for GM at 82 U.S. facilities, including assembly and parts plants and warehouses.
Included in the negotiations was a groundbreaking provision establishing a UAW-managed trust that will administer GM's retiree health care obligations. GM pushed hard for the trust - known as a Voluntary Employees Beneficiary Association, or VEBA - so it could move $51 billion in unfunded retiree health costs off its books. GM has nearly 339,000 retirees and surviving spouses.
"This strike is not about the VEBA in any way shape or form," Gettelfinger said at an afternoon news conference in Detroit.
"The No. 1 issue here is job security," Gettelfinger later said, adding that the union also was fighting to preserve workers' benefits.
Gettelfinger said the union and GM's management would return to the table later Monday.
GM spokesman Dan Flores said the automaker was disappointed in the UAW's decision to call a national strike.
"The bargaining involves complex, difficult issues that affect the job security of our U.S. work force and the long-term viability of the company," he said. "We remain fully committed to working with the UAW to develop solutions together to address the competitive challenges facing GM."
It remained to be seen what effect the strike would have on the automaker and consumers. The company has sufficient stocks of just about every product to withstand a short strike, according to Tom Libby, senior director of industry analysis for J.D. Power and Associates.
Worker Anita Ahrens burst into tears as hundreds of United Auto Workers streamed out of a GM plant in Janesville, Wis.
"Oh my God, here they come," said Ahrens, 39. "This is unreal."
Ahrens has seven years at the plant, where she works nights installing speakers in sport utility vehicles. She waited outside the building Monday for her husband, Ron Ahrens, who has worked there for 21 years.
The couple has three children, including a college freshman, and Ahrens worried about how they would pay their bills.
"This is horrible, but we're die-hard union, so we have to," Ahrens said. "We got a mortgage, two car payments and tons of freaking bills."
Gettelfinger said he believed the UAW's leadership owed "our membership an answer as to why they're out there."
"This is as serious as anything that any of us do," he said. "There's not one person on this stage ... that wanted to see these negotiations end in a strike. Who wins in a strike? But again, you can be pushed off a cliff, and that's what we feel like happened here."
Despite the strike, GM stock rose a penny to $34.95 in midday trading.” Taken from WXYZ.com
I have popped off about the unions before. Anyone who has read me long enough knows my stance. For any new readers unaware of my stance on most labor unions and the UAW specifically, I am a wonderful mix of Andrew Carnegie and Allan Pinkerton. For my overseas readers that means I am violently opposed to them and wish them great bodily harm resulting in death and or dismemberment.
So today I turned on the TV to have what I thought was going to be a severe weather alert or amber alert crawling across the screen. Instead it was informing that the over paid whiney bitches of the UAW have initiated a nationwide strike. The funny/great/amusing thing is that they did this at the most inopportune time to make their point. The Michigan unemployment rate as of August was at 7.4% which is a .4% increase for the year, with a combined loss of 56,000 jobs over the past year (source). This is what happens when people with a high school education at best are put in charge of a labor union. What they fail to realize is that there is a glut of people willing to do their jobs for much less than they the union lazy asses are being paid. If GM is smart, they will simply cut their losses, break from the union, and hire all scab labor. Tell everyone who wants to come back to fuck off. They made their bed, time to lay in it.
GM has been steadily losing market share over the years due to the fact they can’t price their cars into the market the way the foreign auto makers can. Why? Because some swingin dick off the street can walk onto the assembly line with nothing more than an elementary education for $18/hr plus full benefits to push a button or turn a couple screws. That’s the STARTING wage. While most of the Asian auto makers have plants in America they do this to avoid an AMAZINGLY large tariff placed on foreign manufacturers that do not have a working plant in the US. So by building an entire line of cars in one plant in Tennessee or any other “right to work” state, allows them to import 10 other lines of cars without paying a tariff and thus price their shit so competitively low that the US auto makers can’t keep up. The overhead in payroll and pensions and health care alone make it near impossible for us to price in the range of Kia and Toyota or Honda.
The children at the UAW don’t understand this, all they want is “more more more”. They say this whole thing is about “job security”, but as far as I can see, and hope, is that they just shot themselves in the foot. While I make great money delivering pizzas if GM offered me $13/hr plus minimum benefits to jump on their line, guess who’d be turning a screw or pushing a button? This guy. It’d be a pay cut, but I’d have benefits and weekends off.
All I have to say is, Ron Gettelfinger I thank you for helping deal this death knell to the one organization that has been slowly killing this region over the last 6 years due to their collective greed and gross incompetence. You sir, are a true American. Plus, when all these assholes finally lose their jobs the housing market alone will explode even more than it is. While this will drive housing prices lower in some regions but hey, this will allow first time home buyers a chance to own at a lower price in a better area. Man, I wish everybody had my crystal ball, the world would be a great place then. Anyhow, fuck the UAW, if GM wants to hire me in an Allan Pinkerton-esque role, I would be more than happy to appease. Viva Detroit!