UAW Solidarity House | 8000 East Jefferson Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48214 | p. (313) 926-5000
© Copyright 2014 UAW. All Rights Reserved.
DETROIT - Last night we heard President Obama issue a call to the nation and Republicans in Congress to work together to solve the nation's unemployment crisis and focus on strengthening the middle class by strengthening manufacturing. The president has demonstrated his commitment to creating an economy 'built to last' by restructuring the U.S. auto industry for the 21st century, while Republican opponents were willing to let it die and see millions of jobs lost. The recovery of the American automotive industry is one of our country's greatest economic success stories.
General Motors Co. is back as the world's No. 1 automaker, Chrysler Group LLC is outpacing its U.S. competitors in sales growth and Ford Motor Co. continues to make large investments in its U.S. plants. All three domestic automakers are bringing jobs back to the United States from other countries. Thanks to the Obama administration's commitment to U.S. manufacturing, the domestic automakers have added nearly 160,000 jobs to the economy. The president says he bet on U.S. workers. That bet paid off, as we had no doubt it would.
To those who say unions chase jobs out of the country, the facts prove them wrong. President Obama reminded us last night of yet another U.S. manufacturer that is insourcing rather than outsourcing. We're proud that Master Lock, a UAW-represented workplace, has decided it makes more business sense to bring jobs back to the United States. Today, Master Lock's plant in Milwaukee is running at full capacity.
We agree with the president that if we level the global playing field for U.S. manufacturers and insist that the wealthy pay their fair share to rebuild our country, America's future is hopeful, and the state of our union will always be strong.
Let's keep that message alive as we work to re-elect President Barack Obama in November.
Click here to read President Obama's State of the Union Address.
DETROIT - Today UAW members across the United States showed their solidarity at Hyundai Motor Co. dealerships to demand the reinstatement of Ms. Park, a contract (“temp”) worker for a subcontractor at Hyundai’s Asan facility in South Korea who was terminated for reporting sexual harassment.
Holding banners that read, “Stop Sex Discrimination at Hyundai” and “Reinstate Ms. Park,” UAW members from Los Angeles to New York, at more than 75 different dealerships, informed American auto buyers about an injustice to an autoworker on the other side of the globe.
“Though we may work for different companies and in different countries, as workers, we support each other’s struggles and know that one of the best ways to hold our employers accountable is through consumer action at dealerships,” said Mike O'Rourke, an 33-year employee and president of UAW Local 1853 at General Motors’ Manufacturing Facility in Spring Hill, Tenn.
The Korean Metal Workers Union (KMWU) called upon autoworkers and their unions to participate in the Global Day of Action by standing in front of Hyundai dealerships in their home countries and demanding that the company direct its subcontractor to reinstate Ms. Park and hold the offender responsible. With the help of the KMWU, Ms. Park filed a complaint of sexual harassment with the National Human Rights Commission of the Republic of Korea in 2010. In response, Hyundai’s subcontractor fired Ms. Park for “harming the company’s reputation.”
The commission ruled in favor of Ms. Park, finding that the retaliatory discharge was illegal. It also ordered the company to pay damages and hold the perpetrator responsible. When Hyundai’s subcontractor refused to comply with the commission’s ruling, Ms. Park began a demonstration in the capital, where she has been holding vigil since June 22, 2011.
“The UAW has embraced a global vision of social justice and will mobilize its membership to defend labor rights here and in other parts of the world,” said UAW President Bob King.
“We stand in solidarity with our sister in Korea, the KMWU and with workers’ movements which challenge employers who try to silence workers who have the courage to challenge workplace injustice,” added King.
For immediate release: Oct. 26, 2011
A majority of UAW Chrysler members vote in favor of contract ratification
UAW International Executive Board follows UAW Constitutional process and declares agreements ratified
DETROIT - A majority of UAW members at Chrysler Group LLC have voted in favor of ratification of the tentative agreement between the UAW and Chrysler. The results of voting conducted over the past two weeks are as follows:
Total Hourly Bargaining Unit (HBU), including skilled trades
54.75 percent voted for the agreement; 45.25 percent voted against the agreement.
Skilled Trades only
44.41 percent voted for the agreement; 55.59 percent voted against the agreement.
Salaried Bargaining Unit (SBU)
68.80 percent voted for the agreement: 31.20 percent voted against the agreement.
Because a majority of UAW skilled trades members voted against the tentative hourly agreement, under the UAW Constitution, the UAW International Executive Board (IEB) investigated the reasons skilled members voted against the proposed agreement and determined that these reasons were predominantly economic and not unique to skilled trades members. Accordingly, the IEB declared the agreements ratified under the UAW Constitution.
The contract is the third and final agreement ratified with the domestic automakers in the 2011 auto talks.
"With this agreement, we have made significant progress in times of economic uncertainty," said UAW Vice President General Holiefield. "We were able to make headway in bridging the gap between the New Hire pay and that of the existing workforce, return some of the benefits that members previously gave up to help the company survive, and win new jobs and investment in UAW plants."
"It's not everything our members deserve, but we did the best we could in these uncertain times and negotiated an agreement that will ensure Chrysler's viability so that we can share in its economic success once it has regained financial stability. I'm extremely proud of the membership in ratifying this contract. It affords opportunity for us to build some of the best products and enhances opportunities for Chrysler workers in the future," Holiefield added.
"In less than three years, Chrysler, through the dedication and hard work of its UAW-represented workers, has emerged from bankruptcy and repaid its federal loans six years early. Now through this collective bargaining agreement, we are adding jobs and helping to rebuild America," said Holiefield.
"This agreement adds 2,100 new UAW jobs which, together with jobs added at GM and Ford, mean more than 20,000 direct manufacturing jobs will be added to our economy," said UAW President Bob King. "The Center for Automotive Research estimates the multiplier for other jobs created from an auto manufacturing job is 10, so these 20,000 direct auto manufacturing jobs, will create another 180,000 jobs in devastated communities across America. The UAW and the domestic auto companies are jump-starting the nation's economic recovery," King added.
The tentative agreement includes $4.5 billion to produce new and upgraded vehicles and components by 2015.
Jobs, investment and product guarantees in the tentative agreement include:
Here are the details of the agreement and a complete list of plant investment.
The UAW reached a tentative agreement with General Motors Co. on Sept. 16. The agreement was ratified by UAW members on Sept. 28. The UAW reached a tentative agreement with Ford Motor Co. on Oct. 4, and the agreement was ratified on Oct. 19. The tentative agreement with Chrysler was reached Oct. 12.
The UAW represents 26,000 employees at Chrysler, including 3,000 salaried employees, at 48 Chrysler facilities in the United States, making vehicles and components with the Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Mopar and Ram Truck brands.
OWS and Labor Movement Work Together
A Los Angeles Times story focused on protesters joining forces with the Los Angeles teachers union to link the nationwide Occupy protests to budget cuts and layoffs in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Occupy South Bend protestors joined with union members to call for bridge repairs. The South Bend Tribune story focused on Indiana’s unemployment rate as well was the number of bridges in the state rated as structurally deficient.
Local Government, Police, and Protesters
Several stories highlighted the peacefulness and lawfulness of Occupy groups and the good relationship with local government and police. Other stories examined the tensions amongst the groups.
A Los Angeles Times story reported that the 17-day Occupy Los Angeles movement has not led to any arrests and police said the group has been both “cooperative” and “respectful.”
According to the Charlottesville Daily Progress, Occupy Charlottesville easily obtained a three-day permit for protests: “Processing the permit was a straightforward affair.” Several councilors expressed support for the protest, but they asked protestors to file for a permit. A Richmond Times-Dispatch story highlighted the “good dialogue” between Richmond police and the protestors, even though the police have reiterated their request that protestors with Occupy Richmond remove their tents from the city park. The ACLU of Virginia issued a statement asking the city to allow demonstrators to camp overnight and express their First Amendment rights.
A meeting between the mayor of Denver and four protesters elected to represent Occupy Denver, “opened the line of communication,” according to a Denver Post story. Nevertheless, the mayor maintained that protesters are welcome to stay on sidewalks outside the park, but may not camp there.
A Cincinnati affiliate of MSNBC focused on Occupy Cincinnati’s plan to march to City Hall today to demand that City Council remove a city law “limiting freedom of speech in public space.” The law requires people to leave parks when they close between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. – 241 citations have been issued at the park so far. Protesters have filed a federal lawsuit over park access, and a federal judge has issued a temporary stay on the issuing of citations.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he consulted with Chicago police before police moved in to arrest 175 Occupy demonstrators, according to a Chicago Tribune story.
A Colorado local NBC story focused on security costs of protests, citing that occupy rallies have cost some cities “hundreds of thousands of dollars in security costs” and “around $8300 in police overtime in Grand Junction,” Colorado.
OWS and the Tea Party
A Fox affiliate in Chicago highlighted a civil exchange between founder of the Chicago Tea Patriots and a middle-aged union electrician Occupy Wall Street protestor.
GOP PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
There was a GOP presidential debate Tuesday night, and the participants reflected broader Republican ambivalence toward, and possibly fear of, the OWS movement. While Herman Cain was skeptical of OWS (“They might be frustrated with Wall Street and the bankers, but they're directing their anger at the wrong place [. . .] "Wall Street didn't put in failed economic policies. Wall Street didn't spend a trillion dollars that didn't do any good. [. . .] They ought to be over in front of the White House taking out their frustration."), others were either more positive or avoided engaging.
“Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) criticized Cain for blaming the people who have been hurt by the financial crisis through no fault of their own. “I think Mr. Cain has blamed the victims," he said. "There's a lot of people that are victims of this business cycle. We can't blame the victims. But we also have to point -- I'd go to Washington as well as Wall Street, but I'd go over to the Federal Reserve. They create the financial bubbles."
Frontrunner Mitt Romney notably sidestepped reinforcing some of his recent attacks on OWS and instead “said Americans should focus frustration with the economy on President Obama and “talk about what’s happened over the last three years” rather than the circumstances that led to the financial collapse.”
Gingrich was explicitly ambivalent at last week’s debate.
Labor’s Support of Occupy
The conservative Heritage Foundation posted a blog that pointed to AFL-CIO spending money on Google ads to support Occupy protests. The same post also claims that recent polls show that the Occupy protests’ views and goals are “far outside the mainstream of American public opinion,” in the same way that “Big Labor’s political platform” is.
Occupy Protestors are Radical, Not Smart, and Unethical
Right-wing media continues attempts to dismiss OWS protesters as out of line with Mainstream America or ignorant.
Conservative blog Red State posted a profile of organizer Lisa Fithian in an attempt to push back against the “empathetic meme toward the occupiers and their faux agenda” used by mainstream media and its “useful idiot supporters and sympathizers” (links to video of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor saying that Republicans agree that too few people control too much wealth in America) to show that the “real organizers and supporters” are “certainly not 99% of America.”
A story from conservative blog Daily Caller hones in on a potential “ethics violation” by NPR-host Lisa Simeone who is supposedly acting as a spokesperson for Occupy DC. Conservative blog Daily Caller included a story of the arrest of an Occupy Seattle man who was accused of exposing himself to children at least five times across Seattle
Government versus Wall Street
Conservative media is still trying to push the meme that government is more to blame than Wall Street institutions or corporate greed. A guest post on conservative blog Daily Caller argued that crony capitalism is to blame for the income inequality decried by Occupy protests:
The income inequality decried by the Occupy Wall Street protesters results from this crony capitalist system that allows policymakers to distribute economic favors to special interests in the form of bailouts, preferable tax treatment and favorable regulations. Conversely, capitalists like Steve Jobs who rely on free markets, private financing, American ingenuity and hard work create more prosperity for more people.
That meme was pushed by another post on Daily Caller which looked at private emails they obtained from Occupy Wall Street protestors. The author found that organizers are “luke-warm” at best on Obama and aren’t satisfied with his performance in office.
OP-EDS AND COMMENTARY
“Democrats should be moving boldly…to claim the issue of economic justice as their own,” Eugene Robinson writes in an op-ed for the Washington Post.
On BlackAmericaWeb.com, Stephanie Robinson writes that the message of OWS is “crystal clear”: “people are fed up and things have to change.” She also writes about how the protests are starting to look more like 99% of America with more African America, Latinos, and unions joining in. She highlights the formation of a new group called “Occupy the Hood,” which started after its organizers saw the lack of representation of people of color. Robinson isn’t surprised that the just-formed group already has 7,800 followers on Twitter, given that:
“…inequitable policies on Wall Street and in the banking industry have had an especially tragic impact on communities of color in the form of foreclosures, defaulted loans, joblessness and depressed local economies.”
Moderate Bergen Record Columnist Alfred Doblin argues that we need to “Occupy Main Street,” not Wall Street. He argues that corporate greed isn’t a good enough goal and warns that leaderless movements are eventually co-opted by people with money and power. The focus should be on Main Street and jobs and revitalizing communities.
The Bergen Record also included commentary from Immanual Wallerstein, senior research scholar at Yale University, who argues that the Occupy movement is making a big difference and will leave a lasting legacy just as the 1968 uprising did, even if the protests lose steam.
UAW Local 2110 Vice President Booker Washington shows Solidarity with the Occupy movement | Photo courtesy of Region 9A
Dave Elsila is a retired UAW Local 1981 (National Writers Union) member who is part of the nationwide Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement.
Elsila was assistant director and Solidarity magazine editor in the UAW Public Relations Department from 1976 until he retired in 1998.
We’ll reprint his future reports on the Occupy Wall Street section of uaw.org.
Here are Elsila’s first three installments detailing his experiences on the ground amid the OWS rallies:
Oct. 12, 2011
Report #1 from New York City
Energizing and inspirational are words that describe the scene at Occupy Wall Street.
I was there last night along with 1,000 or more others who are speaking out, displaying signs, performing music, painting posters, silk screening T-shirts, sending out electronic updates, serving donated food and keeping NYC’s Zuccotti Park [in lower Manhattan] clean with a volunteer sanitation crew. Participants are going out of their way to deny police any excuse to crack down, and the atmosphere is festive yet peaceful. I was also there Wednesday when 30,000 people from unions, environmental, faith-based, community and other groups marched from Foley Square to Zuccotti Park. I plan to go back later today.
The participants have published two issues of a broadsheet “Occupied Wall Street Journal” and distributed them throughout the city. There’s a big mix of people: You see everything from IWW signs to people wearing Ron Paul T-shirts. A double-decker Grey Line tour bus went by while I was there; the tourists sitting on the open-air top deck cheered and applauded the occupiers.
It seems that participants perceive that the building of a large popular opposition movement of resistance is the best way to effect change and make politicians of all stripes sit up and take notice. Perhaps Todd Gitlin said it best in Sunday’s New York Times when he quoted a historian as saying: “This is the Obama generation declaring their independence from the administration.” Gitlin went on to write, “By allying itself with the protest, the left at large is telling the president that a campaign slogan that essentially says ‘We’re better than Eric Cantor’ won’t cut it in 2012. ‘We are the 99 percent’ would be more like it. If President Obama takes this direction, the movement’s energy may be able to power a motor of significant reform.”
Unfortunately, my vintage Macbook laptop doesn’t want to recognize my little iPhone camera, so I can’t send you any photos. (Go to Democracynow.org for good photo and video coverage.) However, here are some of the signs I saw that give a flavor of the scene:
I hope you have a chance to participate in this new movement wherever you are. There are Occupy Wall Street spinoffs in several hundred areas around the United States. Look for one in your community.
Perhaps the “Arab Spring” that we all cheered has now given rise to the “American Autumn.”
Oct. 14, 2011
Report #2 from New York City
Photo courtesy of Region 9A
Occupy Wall Street participants beat Mayor Bloomberg to the punch Thursday (Oct. 13). After Bloomberg announced that city workers would begin evacuating protesters in order to “clean” the park, dozens of volunteers started scrubbing down the area with soap and water and scrub brushes, eliminating any excuse that the city had for its “cleanup” scheme.
“Today we clean up our community, tomorrow we clean up Wall Street” read several signs that I saw. We saw volunteers with scrapers cleaning up chewing gum from the pavement, polishing brass plaques and making the park cleaner than many of the surrounding streets or, as several members of the city council noted, cleaner than a lot of other parks in the city.
The occupiers also mobilized supporters, who came together by the thousands at 6 a.m. to show solidarity. In particular, New York unions were a strong presence. When I went to the park, the first sign I saw, held by an Ironworker, read: “I’m union, I vote, I’m pissed, so I’m here.” Other union signs bore the logos of the AFT, AFSCME, IATSE, UAW, Public Employees Federation (PEF) and more. And the AFL-CIO sent out an emergency message on the Internet yesterday asking people to sign a petition or to telephone or e-mail Bloomberg to stop the evictions.
The result of all this activity led to a big victory this morning. As you’ve probably heard by now, the city backed down and the owners of this “public-private” park have, for the time being, withdrawn their request for the cleaning. Had the city gone through with its plan, protesters would have been allowed back but without sleeping bags, tarps, tents and other supplies they needed to keep up the round-the-clock protests. People are jubilant.
Tomorrow they are planning a 3 p.m. march across town to Tompkins Square Park. In the meantime, it’s been announced that there are more than 1,100 occupations taking place in cities and towns across the United States. The protests are getting more and more media attention and this morning were the lead stories on many TV news shows.
The protests seem to be spawning a good deal of creativity: In Chicago the other day, 40 people dressed as Robin Hood took to kayaks on the Chicago River, with supporters lining the banks. If there’s a protest where you are, take some time this weekend to get involved.
For Detroit friends, don't forget to show up at 4 p.m. today at the Spirit of Detroit statue downtown. We’ll be going to Philadelphia tomorrow to visit our son and his family, and we plan to be part of “Occupation Philadelphia” on Sunday.
Oct. 17, 2011
Report #3 from Philadelphia
Photo courtesy of Region 9A
Sunday morning (Oct. 16) when I went down to visit Occupy Philadelphia with my grandsons, a sea of colorful tents ranging in size from small pop-ups to full-size camping models filled the plaza in front of City Hall and an area halfway around the side. Today’s edition of Metro, the free Philadelphia daily, made the Occupation its lead story and reported that the number of tents had exploded during this second weekend to 322. That’s a remarkable and impressive number.
Also impressive was seeing a large number of people of color and people who appeared to be homeless becoming part of the Occupation – an indication that this movement is growing not only in numbers but in breadth. Several people were distributing copies of “One Step Away,” a newspaper “produced by those without homes for those with homes.”
Many of the signs were handmade and bore slogans similar to those seen at Occupy Wall Street. One new sign declared, “I want bread and roses, just like my grandmother did.”
At a round-circle meeting of about 30 participants in the lower courtyard, a woman described two favorite slogans: “Our politicians are the best that money can buy,” and “Occupy your mind.”
There are tents for food and beverage distribution, for medical care, for media and outreach, and even for a book exchange. Signs reflect the presence of several unions and faith-based community groups. A Jewish group has erected a sukka, a structure for observing the Jewish holiday of succot, and there is an area identified as “Evangelicals for justice.”
There is also a family area and an “Idea Wall” where children have written such slogans as “fair,” “love for everyone” and “food for everyone.” Like other Occupations, this one seemed to have no political “demands” but rather a list of concerns: “Nothing indicates change; we still have the same problems; we’re still trying to be heard,” one occupier said.
“I care about local issues. How are my kids going to be educated in Philadelphia? How are jobs going to be created in Philadelphia?” they added.
Some political groups are suggesting answers to these questions through literature distribution, information tables and teach-ins, but, as in New York and elsewhere, no one group seems to be dominating the discussion or controlling the movement.
The Metro reporter quotes another occupier: “In order to peacefully change the status quo, you have to celebrate while you’re doing it. Revolutions have to be celebratory. They can’t solve things with simple anger.”
It’s encouraging to read that the Occupation movement has spread to so many places. Back here in New York, I’ve heard from friends in Durango, Colo., in San Mateo, Calif., in St. Clair Shores, Mich., and, of course, in Detroit, that Occupations are under way in all those towns plus hundreds more.
I hope you’re participating wherever you are.
The UAW has a long history of fighting for and protecting its retirees, and through the years, we have been able to bargain good pensions, Christmas bonuses, pension increases, health care benefit improvements and other improvements for our retirees. We accomplished all these gains for retirees even though many years ago a Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that we do not have the right to strike over retiree issues.
In 2008, when the economy collapsed and General Motors and Chrysler were teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, many Republicans wanted to strip retirees of all health care benefits and throw our pensions to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC). If they had succeeded, GM and Chrysler pensions would have been reduced to about 65 percent of the basic pension, and retirees would have been left without any health care. The UAW fought for retirees in the congressional hearings, through lobbying, protesting and many other activities. GM and Chrysler retirees’ pensions and health care were saved as a result.
In the current round of auto bargaining, we were faced with two insurmountable obstacles to winning the gains we wanted for our retirees. First, in the past we were able to fund pension increases and Christmas bonuses out of the UAW Big Three pension funds because the pension funds were either fully funded or, in some years, even overfunded. This year, we face the worst shortfall in our history of pension underfunding. Because of Wall Street’s continuing problems, the GM, Ford and Chrysler hourly pension funds are all underfunded. Obviously, because of this shortfall, we could not use the pension funds to pay for the Christmas bonuses or any other improvements.
The second insurmountable obstacle to winning Christmas bonuses for retirees is the current retiree to active member ratio. The current active UAW membership at GM, for example, is 48,000 members to 405,000 UAW GM retirees, making it nearly a 10-to-1 ratio of retirees to current working members. During these negotiations, the UAW also explored the idea of paying for retiree Christmas bonuses by having each active member contribute to a fund to pay these bonuses. With the almost 10-to-1 ratio of retired to active workers in GM and similar ratios at Chrysler and Ford, funding a $600 retiree bonus for GM retirees would require nearly $6,000 contribution from each active UAW GM member. The problem is similar at Ford and Chrysler. At Ford, the retiree to active ratio is about 3.5 retirees to each active, and at Chrysler, there are almost four retirees to every active member. Obviously, it is not possible in these economic times with these ratios to fund retiree lump sums out of active members’ earnings.
Finally, we were able to negotiate and ratify a 10 percent contribution from active members’ profit sharing that will be diverted to the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA). This diversion helps to make possible the modified dental and vision coverage that will be restored by the VEBA for our UAW Big Three retirees in January 2012.
Our hope is that all of the Big Three – with the continued dedication of our UAW members – will return to being a strong and viable company which will help the profitability and stock of these companies rebound, and that the economy and our pension funds will also rebound, making it possible to win yearly bonuses for our retirees in future negotiations.
DETROIT – Yesterday the UAW and General Motors agreed to extend the current collective bargaining agreement while we continue negotiating toward a tentative agreement.
The current contract was set to expire at midnight Sept. 14, 2011.
The UAW will not provide further comment regarding negotiations or speculate about timing or the potential outcome these negotiations at this time.
DETROIT – Yesterday the UAW and Chrysler Group LLC agreed to extend the current collective bargaining agreement while we continue negotiating toward a tentative agreement.
The current contract was set to expire at midnight Sept. 14, 2011.
The UAW will not provide further comment regarding negotiations or speculate about timing or the potential outcome of these negotiations at this time.