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UAW says meetings with Pelosi and Reid are constructive; calls for immediate steps to aid auto industry


WASHINGTON -- UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said that meetings he and the CEOs of Chrysler, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors had today with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were "constructive discussions about the state of the auto industry and the steps government can take to help companies, workers and retirees."

"We want to thank Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid for putting this issue at the top of the legislative agenda," said Gettelfinger. "There is an urgent need for federal assistance -- not just for our members, but for millions of workers and retirees and for thousands of companies who depend on the auto industry for jobs, retirement benefits and revenue."

With the U.S. economy already in a severe downturn, said Gettelfinger, "it is essential that the federal government act to prevent further damage to a critical industry which supports billions of dollars worth of economic activity in cities and towns all across the country."

"The U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve can help immediately," said Gettelfinger, "by taking steps to provide liquidity to auto manufacturers so they can get through the difficulties caused by an across-the-board decline in auto sales."

The sales drop, said Gettelfinger, which has affected all companies in the industry, "is driven by consumer reaction to tough economic times and a lack of affordable credit for big-ticket purchases."

Congress should also act immediately, said Gettelfinger, to provide an additional $25 billion in loans so that auto companies can meet their health care obligations to more than 780,000 retirees and dependents.

"Strategic assistance to a critical manufacturing industry makes sense for U.S. taxpayers," said Gettelfinger. "The alternative is lost jobs, business failures and a shortfall in pension and health care obligations -- all of which will cost far more in the future than the assistance we are requesting now.

"We look forward to meeting in the near future with President-elect Barack Obama to discuss these same issues," said Gettelfinger. "He has been a leader in the U.S. Senate in working to provide assistance to the auto industry and U.S. manufacturing. We share his vision of a revitalized U.S. economy based on good jobs and good wages -- and timely assistance to the U.S. auto industry is a critical first step in achieving these goals."

Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise, UAW at Foxwoods announce historic agreement to negotiate under tribal law


The Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise and the UAW at Foxwoods have jointly announced today that they have reached a historic agreement to negotiate a union contract under tribal law, without either party waiving their rights under federal law.

Early this month the parties agreed to a 30-day period of discussions to determine whether an agreement could be reached to bargain under tribal law without either party waiving their rights under federal law.

During this period the parties had been reviewing and discussing tribal labor laws focused on ensuring the UAW and its members that their rights to be represented by a union and bargain for a union contract will be fully respected and enforced by tribal institutions.

In resolutions passed Tuesday, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council certified the UAW as the exclusive representative of a unit of table games, poker and dual-rate dealers and addressed other concerns raised by the union.

Both parties recognize the historic significance of this agreement and appreciate the fact that it could not have been accomplished without mutual respect for the legitimate concerns of all affected parties.

While today's agreement is not a collective bargaining agreement, it permits the negotiations to start. Both parties are optimistic that it will result in a constructive dialogue leading to successful negotiations.

If the parties are unable to reach an agreement within five months, either of the parties has the right to have unresolved issues submitted to binding arbitration under the tribal system which provides for a final decision by a neutral party agreed to by the employer and the union.

"The concepts of tribal sovereignty and self-government are very important to all Native American tribes," said Jackson King, general counsel of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. "We are very pleased to have come to an understanding that both acknowledges employees' rights to join unions and respects the rights of Native American governments."

"This is a very important agreement, and the first step toward achieving a contract for workers at Foxwoods," said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union's Technical, Office and Professional (TOP) Organizing Department. "It came about because both parties were willing to listen and address each other's concerns. The Mashantucket Pequots have set an extraordinary example by respecting the rights of workers, and we look forward to building a strong relationship in the future."

"Everyone at work is very excited," said Bonnie Forman, a 7 1/2-year dealer at Foxwoods. "This is exactly what we have been working for -- an opportunity to sit down with management so we can improve our workplace and make Foxwoods the best possible choice for our customers."

In November 2007 the National Labor Relations Board conducted an election among dealers at Foxwoods, and a majority voted for representation by the UAW. The tribe has challenged the NLRB's jurisdiction over activities on the reservation, and that lawsuit is pending in the United States Court of Appeals.

Both parties extend their thanks to the regional and national offices of the NRLB, which have agreed to stay proceedings while this matter proceeds. Litigation in the U.S. Court of Appeals will also be stayed pending the outcome of negotiations.



McCain 'out of touch and uninformed' about U.S. auto industry, says UAW


Republican presidential candidate John McCain is "out of touch and uninformed about the U.S. auto industry," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said today.

Gettelfinger was responding to comments made Monday by McCain economic advisor Carly Fiorina during a visit to the Detroit area.

"The auto industry," Fiorina said, "cannot be saved from its own bad bets," adding that government assistance to industry "should not take away the fundamentals of risk-taking."

"Blaming auto companies at a time when auto loans and auto sales have dried up due to the worldwide credit crisis and a severe economic downturn reveals a shocking level of ignorance about the true state of our industry and the real problems that face American workers and American companies," said Gettelfinger.

"John McCain's key economic advisor certainly knows how to shelter herself from risk," added Gettelfinger. Fiorina left Hewlett Packard in 2005 with a $21 million severance package; she was forced out as CEO after a sharp decline in the company's stock price and heavy job losses.

"Apparently John McCain thinks it's OK for a CEO to get a golden parachute after failing her shareholders and her employees," said Gettelfinger. "But he doesn't believe American workers and retirees deserve protection during a time of economic crisis.

"The contrast between John McCain and Barack Obama could not be clearer. Instead of hurling criticism from the sidelines, Obama has been a leader in the U.S. Senate in seeking support for the auto industry and American manufacturing. He's shown a steady hand during the current crisis – and his forward-looking energy and economic policies will help create a sustainable future for U.S. industries and U.S. workers."

The jobs of workers at thousands of auto supply companies, auto dealerships, engineering and research firms and other auto-related businesses are dependent of the future of auto manufacturers, said Gettelfinger.

In addition, Gettelfinger said, more than a million retirees and their dependents receive pension and health care payments from domestic automakers. If any of the automakers were unable to meet their obligations to retirees, it would impose severe financial burdens on the federal pension guarantee program and federal health care programs.

"Strategic support for a key U.S. manufacturing industry is a smart move for U.S. taxpayers," said Gettelfinger. "The alternative is lost sales and revenue for thousands of business owners, lost jobs for workers, and higher costs and lower tax revenues at all levels of government."

The $25 billion in low-cost loans recently approved to accelerate introduction of advanced-technology vehicles "is an excellent start on a long-term effort to retool our industry for fuel efficiency," said Gettelfinger. "But it is not an adequate response to the credit and economic crises that are undermining the viability of an industry that accounted for 3 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) last year."

"The federal government needs to step forward now to help the auto industry meet these challenges," said Gettelfinger. "The Treasury Department and Federal Reserve should use the tools at their disposal to provide urgently needed liquidity for auto manufacturers, dealers and consumers. Congress should also provide additional assistance to help the auto companies weather the economic downturn that has severely depressed auto sales. Taken together, these actions by the federal government can help the auto industry and its workers and retirees, and stimulate our overall economy during this critical period.

"John McCain's failure to support these efforts shows that he simply doesn't understand what's wrong with the American economy - or how to make it right."

UAW sues auto supplier ZF Boge for breach of contract; plant closing violates 2007 agreement


PARIS, Ill. -- The UAW filed a federal lawsuit against auto supplier ZF Boge today, stating the company's decision to close its Paris, Ill., manufacturing plant is a breach of contract.

"We had a very straightforward agreement with the company,"said Gary Abernathy, Local 2343 bargaining chairman. "If they agreed to keep our plant open, we would modify our contract.

"We kept our end of the bargain -- and now they're closing our plant anyway. That's a breach of contract. We're suing to enforce our agreement, plain and simple," he said.

In May 2007 during the term of an existing collective bargaining agreement, ZF Boge management informed the UAW that it was planning to consolidate the Paris facility and a nonunion plant in Hebron, Ky.

Only one of the two facilities would remain open, according to company officials, who requested modifications in the UAW contract. In a letter to UAW members at the Paris plant dated May 15, 2007, plant manager Marc Vonderlage stated:

"[N]o changes that we negotiated with your elected representatives for approval by Union members will take effect unless this plant is chosen to stay open."

In June 2007, Local 2343 members ratified an agreement which froze their pension plan and reduced working hours. ZF Boge management then advised the union that the Paris facility would remain open and implemented the contractual changes. In November 2007, some equipment and work was transferred from the company's Hebron, Ky., plant to the Paris facility.

In April 2008 ZF Boge management reversed course, and announced that the Paris facility would be closed, and the Hebron plant would stay open instead.

"We know that times are tough in the auto industry," said Abernathy. "That's why we agreed, mid-contract, to changes that would save the company millions of dollars. In exchange, they promised to keep our plant open."

"ZF Boge got exactly what they asked for from us -- but they did not live up to the written agreement they signed. That's why we're in court," he said.

"We're going to hold ZF Boge accountable," said Dennis Williams, director of UAW Region 4, which includes Illinois. "We're not going to let them rip up a contract that was negotiated in good faith. Our members made sacrifices to help this company; now the company has to live up to the commitments it made to our members and their families."

The lawsuit, filed in the Urbana Division of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, calls for the Paris plant to remain open, and for workers to be made whole for the damages they suffered as a result of ZF Boge's violation of the signed labor agreement.


UAW radio ads support key Senate candidates


DETROIT -- A multi-state UAW radio advertising campaign, sponsored by the union's Voluntary Community Action Program (UAW V-CAP), will support candidates for the U.S. Senate in key battleground states, the union announced today.

The ads, which focus on jobs, trade and Social Security, will support union-endorsed candidates in Kentucky, Minnesota and North Carolina.

"Members of our union will be working hard during the next eight days to elect Barack Obama as the next president of the United States," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. "We want to be sure he has a strong team of legislators working with him to implement his progressive agenda: tax cuts for working families, affordable health care for all Americans, and revitalizing our economy with good jobs, good wages and strong support for U.S. manufacturing industries."

In Kentucky the UAW is supporting Bruce Lunsford, a business leader whose father was a union member at General Electric, and who has spoken out strongly in favor of the right to organize and bargain.

"Working people are really hurting right now, and we need a senator from Kentucky who will listen to our concerns," said Kirk Gillenwaters, a retired member of UAW Local 862 and vice chair of the UAW CAP Council in Kentucky's 3rd and 4th Congressional Districts. "Mitch McConnell has been in Washington for 24 years, but every time I have tried to speak to him, he has constantly refused to meet with us. We deserve better representation."

In Minnesota the UAW is backing Al Franken -- a member of four different entertainment unions -- who is committed to keeping good-paying industrial jobs in the United States.

"We recognize Al's commitment to workers in the manufacturing industry and retaining manufacturing jobs," said Dan Manuel, a vice president of UAW Local 125 and chair of the UAW Minnesota CAP Council. "We're committed to working with him to beat Norm Coleman and John McCain and their policies that attack workers and working families."

In North Carolina the union has endorsed State Sen. Kay Hagan, who has been ranked as one of the 10 most effective legislators in the state by the non-partisan North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research.

"Elizabeth Dole has been in Washington a long time, but she hasn't gotten much done for working families," said Bob Riggins, president of UAW Local 5285 and chair of the North Carolina UAW CAP Council. "Kay Hagan helped pass an $840 million tax cut for families in North Carolina, and that's what she'll do in Washington -- get rid of Bushs tax cuts for the rich and get some relief for the middle class."

The UAW-endorsed Senate candidates, said Gettelfinger, "are very qualified individuals who will represent the public interest." The candidates they are running to replace, he said, "have shown during their years in Washington that they are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

"Mitch McConnell has for many years been one of the loudest voices in the U.S. Senate against working people and our unions," said Gettelfinger. "Elizabeth Dole was ranked at the bottom -- 93 out of 100 -- in terms of effectiveness in the U.S. Senate. And Norm Coleman campaigns as an 'independent,' but once he got to Washington, he voted with George Bush more than 80 percent of the time.

"Incumbents usually have an easy time getting re-elected," said Gettelfinger. "But each of these races is very close. Members of our union are proud to support Bruce Lunsford, Al Franken and Kay Hagan -- because each of them will work hard in Washington on behalf of working people."

The UAW radio ads, which began running on Saturday, Oct. 25 and will run through Election Day, are paid for by UAW V-CAP. UAW V-CAP is funded by voluntary contributions from UAW members and their families.

This portion of this Web site is paid for by the UAW V-CAP (Voluntary Community Action Program), with voluntary contributions from union members and their families, and is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.


UAW casino dealers and Foxwoods enter discussions


The following joint statement was released today by the UAW and the Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise:

The UAW and the Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise agreed to enter into discussions for 30 days to determine if an agreement can be reached to bargain under tribal law without either party waiving any of their rights or legal positions under the National Labor Relations Act.

The parties further agreed that they will not discuss the status of negotiations during this 30-day period.



Mitsubishi workers ratify new four-year agreement


A majority of the members of UAW Local 2488 in Normal, Ill. have voted in favor of ratifying a new four-year contract with Mitsubishi Motors North America.

"The bargaining team delivered an agreement that will protect jobs and provide four years of stability for our members and their communities," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

"Job security and the viability of the Mitsubishi plant in Normal remained a priority during these talks," said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, director of the union's Transnational Department. "This contract addresses those needs and creates opportunities for our members and Mitsubishi to move forward in these uncertain economic times for the auto industry and the nation."

The new agreement expires Aug. 30, 2012 and covers 1,264 UAW members at Mitsubishi.


UAW says rescue package was needed; implementation must protect taxpayers and homeowners


DETROIT -- UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said today that the action taken by Congress to stabilize the nation's finances was an "unfortunate necessity," and cautioned that the rescue package must be implemented to provide maximum protection to taxpayers and homeowners.

"Eight years of deregulation and lax oversight by the Bush administration has resulted in a financial fire that had to be put out," said Gettelfinger. "The action taken by Congress today is an important step to restore confidence in our financial markets and liquidity to our credit markets.

"Credit is essential to the functioning of our economy -- especially for working families. Consumers need credit to purchase automobiles and homes. Students need credit to pay for college. Companies large and small need credit to maintain and grow their businesses, and to increase job opportunities."

When President Bush first proposed the rescue package, the UAW demanded it be renegotiated to include: full transparency; public equity in the companies that participate so taxpayers can be repaid by companies that succeed; a cap on executive compensation; and real mortgage relief for homeowners, to help working families avoid foreclosure. In addition to these four principles, the UAW pressed Congress to enact an economic stimulus package to create jobs and to extend unemployment insurance to laid-off workers.

"The stabilization bill that passed the House today includes all of the principles we sought," said Gettelfinger, "but we are disappointed that opposition from President Bush and Republicans in Congress made it impossible to make these pro-consumer, pro-taxpayer provisions even stronger.

"It's also unfortunate," said Gettelfinger, "that Senate Republicans blocked a job-creating economic stimulus package and an extension of unemployment insurance. Congress must return to these proposals soon, because there is no long-term solution to our nation's current economic crisis that does not include putting more money in the hands of workers and consumers."

The final bill leaves tremendous discretion to the secretary of the treasury, including when and how much equity to demand from participating companies and how many homeowners will be helped to avoid foreclosure.

"The next treasury secretary will have enormous power to determine whether this plan provides real help to working Americans, or whether it will primarily help large financial institutions," said Gettelfinger.

"Since it is the action -- and inaction -- of President Bush and his appointees that caused the current credit freeze, it's hard to have much confidence that a similar set of players with a similar 'let the markets rule' philosophy will provide the economic direction our country needs.

"Barack Obama, by contrast, has offered steady leadership throughout this crisis, and has laid out a detailed plan to cut taxes on the middle class and to secure the good-paying jobs that are the foundation of long-term economic growth.

"Members of our union will be hard at work during the next month to elect Barack Obama, because we are confident that his administration will stabilize our nation's finances and grow our economy in a way that will benefit working families and Main Street America."


Foxwoods dealers win bargaining order from labor board


NORWICH, Conn. -- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ordered management at Foxwoods Resort and Casino to bargain with the dealers and assistant floor supervisors represented by the UAW.

The board, in a Sept. 30 decision, ordered Foxwoods to recognize the union as the lawful bargaining representative of poker and table games dealers and assistant floor supervisors, and to bargain upon request with the union.

"We are gratified, but not surprised by the board's action," said Denise Gladue, a 14-year Foxwoods dealer and assistant floor supervisor. "We are calling on Foxwoods management to accept this result and meet with us to bargain a fair union contract."

The Foxwoods dealers won their union in a Nov. 24, 2007 election by an overwhelming majority. The UAW requested to bargain with management in July immediately after certification of the union by the NLRB. Foxwoods refused to bargain, and the regional director of the NLRB charged Foxwoods with unfair labor practices and sought the bargaining order.

"Over the last year, Foxwoods workers have grown stronger in their determination to win collective bargaining rights," said Bob Madore, director of UAW Region 9A, where Foxwoods is located. "Foxwoods management should respect the decision by a majority of the workers, respect the labor board's order, and come to the bargaining table."

Foxwoods management announced on Oct. 1 that over the next 17 days it plans to lay off 700 employees.

"We recognize that times are tough all over," said Steve Peloso, a 16-year Foxwoods dealer. "We want a secure future and so does the company; we think we can get there if we work together."

The UAW, one of the nation's most diverse labor unions, represents 8,800 casino workers in Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Rhode Island.



Advanced technology vehicle manufacturing program approved by Congress will boost jobs for American workers


DETROIT -- The advanced technology vehicle manufacturing program approved today by Congress will help to ensure vehicles of the future are produced in the United States, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said today.

"It's a huge victory for our members, for U.S. manufacturing companies and for American consumers," said Gettelfinger. "This is a smart investment that will speed the introduction of more fuel-efficient vehicles and also create tens of thousands of good-paying U.S. manufacturing jobs."

The UAW has championed the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Incentive Program (ATMVIP) as a Marshall Plan to reinvest in the U.S. auto industry since 2004 when a University of Michigan study showed that support for building more fuel-efficient vehicles in the U.S. would create tens of thousands of jobs and largely pay for itself.

The energy bill passed by Congress in 2007, with bipartisan support, authorized $25 billion in low-interest loans for manufacturers that build advanced technology vehicles and their key components in the United States. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives appropriated funds for the program; the Senate followed suit today.

Michigan Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin and U.S. Rep. John Dingell played a key leadership role in moving the legislation through Congress, said Gettelfinger, with strong support from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

Obama's strong record of support for American manufacturing, said Gettelfinger, is a sharp contrast with the dismal performance of the Bush administration. Bush's Department of Energy said on Friday that it might take up to 18 months to put regulations in place before loans are available to automakers and parts suppliers.

"There is absolutely no reason to delay this vital program, and it shows why America needs a change in direction," said Gettelfinger. "This administration knows how to move fast when it wants to; it's a disgrace that they can' be bothered to take decisive action to help American workers and American companies."