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UAW applauds bipartisan House vote on bridge loans; calls for immediate Senate action

12/11/08

"The U.S. House of Representatives has taken responsible action with a bipartisan vote to support bridge loans for the U.S. auto industry," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said.

"The Senate must now act on this critical legislation, which President Bush helped to draft and will sign. It's clear there is majority support in Congress for these emergency bridge loans, which will protect millions of jobs, thousands of businesses, and hundreds of billions in tax revenues at all levels of government.

"We can't let a minority in the Senate obstruct an urgent response to an economic crisis which threatens the long-term viability of our U.S. manufacturing base -- not when millions of jobs are at risk in all 50 states."

UAW backs bipartisan plan for emergency bridge loans to U.S. auto industry

12/10/08

The UAW strongly supports the bipartisan compromise to provide emergency bridge loans to the U.S. auto industry, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said today.

"The bipartisan compromise between congressional leaders and the White House provides critical support for Main Street manufacturing and sets in motion a process for restructuring our industry for the future," said Gettelfinger.

"We applaud the efforts of everyone on both sides of the aisle who has worked long and hard to develop this emergency legislation. We urge Congress to act without delay to pass this legislation to avoid devastating consequences for the entire U.S. economy."

If Congress fails to act this week, Gettelfinger said, one or more automakers will be forced to liquidate operations, due to the dramatic drop in auto sales caused by the current recession and the global credit crisis.

"Investing in America's manufacturing base makes sense," said Gettelfinger. "Otherwise, 3 million jobs are at risk, along with pension and health benefits for more than a million retirees. Thousands of businesses that supply the auto industry would be forced to close, and government at all levels would lose hundreds of billions in tax revenues -- far more than the assistance being requested."

The UAW supports the tough conditions included in the bipartisan legislation, including limits on executive compensation, a prohibition on dividends, an equity stake to protect taxpayers and ongoing federal oversight. The proposed bill also requires automakers to develop restructuring plans for long-term viability, which will involve shared sacrifice from all stakeholders, including management, directors, bondholders, shareholders, suppliers, dealers, UAW members and other company employees.

The initial source for the emergency bridge loans will be the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program. This green technology fund was created by Congress in 2007 to promote retooling of U.S. manufacturing facilities to build highly fuel-efficient vehicles of the future.

"The next Congress must replenish the green technology fund as soon as possible," said Gettelfinger. "We need emergency legislation today to keep America's factories up and running -- and we also need a long-term strategy to build the high-mileage, low-emission vehicles of the future here in the United States."

 

 

 

UAW delegates: We'll sacrifice to help U.S. auto industry

12/03/08

At a joint meeting of UAW Ford, GM and Chrysler National Councils today in Detroit, UAW delegates from auto assembly, stamping, engine, transmission and parts depots across the United States agreed to take major steps to help the industry move forward.

As UAW President Ron Gettelfinger prepared to testify in Washington Dec. 4 and 5 in support of urgent bridge loans for the auto industry, UAW Council delegates overwhelmingly approved a series of recommendations from the union's International Executive Board.

The joint council meeting included a comprehensive review and discussion of the emergency facing America's domestic auto industry, which will likely result in liquidation of one or more companies without federal assistance. The new measures include delaying company payments to the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA), the independent trust that is scheduled to take over payments for retiree health benefits in 2010, and suspension of the controversial "jobs bank" program. Additionally the council agreed to consider making further modifications to the 2007 national agreements.

At a press conference following the session, Gettelfinger outlined key sacrifices UAW members are willing to consider to help ensure the viability of the domestic automakers during the global economic crisis.

With council delegates looking on, the UAW president spoke to a large gathering of local, national and international news media who came to learn about the UAW's response to the auto crisis. Gettelfinger stressed that while the union will allow delayed payment schedule for the VEBA, the union would protect UAW retirees' health care.

"We are simply going to defer those payments until a later date at a guaranteed interest," he said.

The union's job security program, often referred to as the "jobs bank" has helped workers adjust to rapid downsizing in the auto industry, but as Gettelfinger acknowledged, it has become a lightning rod. He said the union's auto department vice presidents will begin working with the companies today on the mechanics of dismantling the program.

"We are well aware of the number of workers who are impacted," Gettelfinger said. "However, we think that it's a responsible thing for us to do."

Finally, said Gettelfinger, the union will convene UAW Chrysler, Ford and General Motors bargaining committees to meet with their company counterparts.

"We will immediately engage with our elected bargaining committees to work with our vice presidents and their staff," he said. "We will review the agreements and we are going to consider modifications."

UAW members, Gettelfinger emphasized, will have final say in any changes to union-negotiated agreements. "Any modifications that we make in those agreements we will take back to our membership for ratification."

Gettelfinger and the company CEOs testify at congressional hearings Thursday and Friday. The executives will offer detailed plans on how they will use a proposed $34 billion in emergency bridge loans to protect the companies from insolvency.

"We're looking forward to going," said Gettelfinger. "It will give us a chance to answer questions. I know that members of Congress appreciate us coming in and trying to help them better understand the concessions we've made."

Gettelfinger stressed that the tough times facing domestic automakers are not unique, but are affecting auto companies around the world. Virtually every other auto producing country -- including Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, South Korea, Brazil, Russia and China -- has provided or is considering billions of dollars in aid to its auto industry.

Sparking huge applause from UAW delegates, Gettelfinger said the domestic auto companies are critical to the health of the U.S. economy. "The real issue is the backbone of America -- an industry that does more for the economy than any other industry and, quite frankly, made the middle class what it is today."

 

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

11/06/08

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

10/31/08

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

10/28/08

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

10/28/08

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

10/28/08

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

10/10/08

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

10/04/08

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.