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UAW members overwhelmingly ratify new contract at Volvo Trucks North America


UAW workers at Volvo Trucks North America overwhelmingly approved a new contract for hourly and salaried workers at the New River Valley, Va., plant, with 93 percent in favor of ratification.

The vote on the new three-year contract took place on March 15, and covers 2,600 members of UAW Local 2069.

"UAW Local 2069 members can be proud of a winning a solid economic package, improving job security and maintaining good health care benefits for active workers and retirees," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said.

"These are hard-working people who were forced out on strike on Feb. 1, even though they wanted nothing more than a contract that would help them feed their families and return home safely to them every night," said UAW Vice President General Holiefield, who directs the union's Heavy Trucks Department. "They are an amazing example of solidarity."

The contract also includes a $2,000 lump-sum payout now and 2 percent wage increases in the second and third years of the agreement. In addition, workers won increased vision and hearing benefits and protected recall rights for UAW members for the life of the agreement.

Members of UAW Local 2069, on strike since Feb. 1, will return to work on March 24.

The new contract expires at midnight, March 16, 2011.



UAW at Foxwoods' union election upheld


HARTFORD, Conn. -- In an important victory for workers rights, NLRB Administrative Law Judge Raymond P. Green today upheld November's overwhelming vote by casino dealers at Foxwoods to form their own union.

This ruling dismisses all of Foxwoods' objections to the election and clears the way for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to certify the union election results.

"We are thrilled that Judge Green affirmed that our election was a free and fair measure of the will of the dealers," said Denise Gladue, a dual-rate dealer in Table Games. "We have won every ruling and we won our election by a decisive margin. We have waited long enough. Management needs to respect our majority, recognize our union, and negotiate a fair contract."

Casino dealers voted Nov. 24 by a 3-to-2 margin in favor of unionization. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and Foxwoods filed objections to the election, trying to get it overturned. The charges claimed that voters did not understand the ballot or the meaning of the union election. They also alleged misconduct by the union including threats and intimidation. All of the allegations were dismissed.

"We speak many languages, but we all know how to say, 'Union Yes!' And everybody who works here knew exactly what our election was about: We want a union!" said Wei Ching Siu, a part-time Table Games dealer. "My coworkers and I want a healthy workplace, wages and benefits we can count on, and we want respect. We all knew what we were voting for - a huge majority of us worked hard to win our union."

"Gaming employees have a definite home in our union," said Elizabeth Bunn, secretary-treasurer of the International Union, UAW. "The dealers at Foxwoods join a growing tide of casino workers standing together and standing up for a voice on the job."

The UAW represents more than 8,000 gaming employees nationally, including workers in Atlantic City, N.J.; Newport, R.I.; Evansville, Ind.; and Detroit.

"We are very proud to stand with the Foxwoods workers in fighting for good jobs in southeastern Connecticut," said Bob Madore, director of UAW Region 9A. "From the beginning, the Foxwoods dealers have been very impressive in standing together.

"The Foxwoods dealers are already acting as a union, standing up publicly against unhealthy levels of secondhand smoke," added Madore.

Since the start of this legislative session, casino dealers have been urging passage of Senate Bill 419, which would remove the exemption of casinos from the state smoking ban.

"We won. It's decided. We are not going to wait another year of appeals, for more broken promises, more erosion of our health benefits, and more people getting sick at work," said Jack Edwards, a dealer who has worked at Foxwoods for 11 1/2 years.

"Management has more to lose than to gain by continuing to drag this out in the courts. It is time for management to come to the bargaining table," concluded Edwards.

On March 25, the NLRB will begin a hearing investigating 35 unfair labor practice charges that have been filed against Foxwoods.



UAW supports Boeing protest on flawed tanker contract


DETROIT -- The award of a $35 billion U.S. Air Force contract to a European-based company is "a bad deal for U.S. taxpayers," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said today.

"UAW members fully support Boeing's decision to challenge this award before the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress," Gettelfinger said.

"Instead of buying a tested refueling tanker, made in America by American workers, the Air Force is proposing to spend billions of our tax dollars on an untested plane, to be built by a government-subsidized European consortium," Gettelfinger said.

The Air Force announced on Feb. 29 that it would award a contract for a new refueling tanker to a consortium led by the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) and Northrup Grumman. The EADS/Northrup Grumman plane will be manufactured in Europe and then "finished" in a facility, not yet constructed, to be located in Huntsville, Ala.

"Why should our tax dollars be used to send jobs to Europe, and then subsidize the construction of a new plant when we've got existing plants and existing workers who can do this job?" said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, who directs the union's Aerospace Department. "This decision puts 40,000 good-paying U.S. manufacturing jobs at risk -- but it does not deliver a better product to our military."

EADS and Northrup Grumman won the contract, Settles noted, even though neither company has ever built a tanker with a refueling boom. Boeing, by contrast, has been building refueling tankers for the U.S. military for more than 75 years.

"Boeing's proposal is for a plane which is smaller and can land at more military bases," said Jim Wells, director of UAW Region 5, home to thousands of UAW-represented aerospace workers and their families. "Boeing's plane is more fuel-efficient, has lower emissions, and already fits with 99 percent of the Air Force's existing equipment.

"We look forward to the GAO investigation," said Wells, "because the U.S. military and U.S. taxpayers are not served well by this decision."

The UAW, one of the nation's largest and most diverse labor unions, represents more than one million active and retired workers, including about 4,000 workers at Boeing and its supplier firms in California and Oklahoma.



UAW members reach tentative agreement with Volvo


Members of UAW Local 2069 reached a tentative agreement this evening with Volvo Truck North America in Dublin, Va.

The agreement, if ratified, will conclude a strike by 2,600 UAW members at Volvo that began on Feb. 1.

"The solidarity and discipline of members of UAW Local 2069 is what made this agreement possible," said UAW Vice President General Holiefield, who directs the union's Heavy Truck Department.

Details of the agreement will be provided to union members prior to a ratification vote.


UAW members fight for jobs at American Axle


DETROIT - UAW members on strike at American Axle said today they are fighting to preserve good-paying U.S. manufacturing jobs at the company.

"Our union is a responsible organization, and we've worked through complex problems at Chrysler, Ford, GM, Delphi, Dana and other companies," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. "But negotiations can' be a one-way street."

"We have repeatedly proven that we will work with this company, during these negotiations and during previous negotiations," said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, who directs the union's American Axle Department.

"The plain fact is, the company has not appropriately responded to our significant and serious proposals, and that's what caused this labor dispute," said Erv Heidbrink, president of UAW Local 2093, representing some 800 UAW members at American Axle's manufacturing facility in Three Rivers, Mich.

"Nobody likes a strike," said Heidbrink, "but the company continues to make unreasonable and unnecessary demands which attack our wages, pensions and health care -- and they haven't provided us the information we need to evaluate their proposals.

"Our members are getting terrific support from all over the UAW and we're standing strong," said Heidbrink. "We're ready for serious bargaining at any time, and we want to get this dispute resolved as soon as we can."

American Axle was created in 1994 when GM spun off five U.S. plants making axles and drive line components, employing approximately 6,500 UAW members.

Since 1994 industry-leading quality and greatly increased productivity in UAW-represented facilities has created significant profits for AAM, leading to expansion of the company to 29 facilities worldwide. But operations at facilities in North America covered by the UAW American Axle master agreement have been reduced, now employing approximately 3,500 workers.



UAW members at Chrysler Financial ratify agreement


UAW workers at Chrysler Financial Services Americas LLC voted 98 percent in favor of a new contract for salaried workers in two financial units.

The ratification vote for the four-year contract took place Feb. 23, and covers 341 salaried workers, including accountants, accounting clerks and customer service representatives.

It is the first agreement with Chrysler Financial Services as a separate company from Chrysler LLC.

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger commended the bargaining committee for its hard work. “Our negotiating team took on the difficult challenge of bargaining with a new entity,” said Gettelfinger. “They stayed strong and they came away with an agreement they can be proud of.”

“The ratification margin says it all,” said UAW Vice President General Holiefield, who directs the union’s Chrysler Department.

“Our members won a contract with strong economic gains, language that protects seniority and transfer rights and a new formula that allows members to share in the profits they help produce.”

The new contract includes a $3,000 settlement bonus and a Christmas bonus of up to $600 for eligible workers. Also, eligible workers will receive annual bonuses of 3 percent in 2008 and 4 percent in 2009 and 2010. Pension and health care benefits packages identical to those in the 2007 UAW Chrysler LLC National Agreement.

The new contract expires at midnight Nov. 4, 2011.

UAW members strike at American Axle and Manufacturing


UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and Vice President James Settles announced that members at American Axle and Manufacturing (AAM) began an unfair labor practices strike at 12:01 a.m. today following expiration of the previous contract.

Talks broke off Monday with major issues unresolved. The company is demanding wage reductions of up to $14 an hour as well as elimination of future retiree health care and defined benefit pensions for active workers.

“The UAW has a proven record of working with companies to improve their competitive position and secure jobs,” said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. “But cooperation does not mean capitulation. Our members cannot be expected to make the extreme sacrifices American Axle is asking for with nothing in return.”

Despite demanding that workers accept substantial reductions in benefits, the company has failed to provide the union with the information it needs to evaluate the merits of its proposals. This unfair labor practice has forced workers to strike.

The union has made comprehensive proposals that would reduce AAM’s labor costs significantly and grant it operational flexibility. AAM, however, continues to move work to Mexico if the union does not agree to its demands.

“We’ve been negotiating in good faith for some time now,” said Settles, who directs the union’s American Axle and Manufacturing Department. “We want a settlement that works for everybody. But the company does not appear to be on the same page.”

The UAW represents approximately 3,600 members at AAM in Michigan and New York.


UAW mourns passing of Doug Fraser


It is with deep sadness that the UAW announces the passing of former UAW President Douglas Fraser. Fraser died Saturday at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Mich. He was 91.

“It’s a huge loss,” said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. “Doug was a friend, a mentor and a counselor to so many within the UAW and the larger labor movement. His integrity and his enduring commitment to protecting the rights of workers will continue to inspire us.”

Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1916, Fraser moved to Detroit with his family when he was six years old. He went to work at the Chrysler DeSoto plant and soon joined the UAW. He was elected president of Local 227 in 1944. His astute negotiating and leadership skills led Walter Reuther to appoint Fraser his administrative assistant in 1950. Fraser served as co-director of UAW Region 1A and in 1962 became director of the union’s Chrysler Department. He was elected vice president in 1970.

Fraser served as president of the UAW from 1977 to 1983. During his term he helped engineer the historic federal loan guarantees and the subsequent financial turnaround of Chrysler Corp. He later served on the company’s board of directors.

As a tribute to Fraser, after he retired, the UAW established the Douglas A. Fraser Community Services Swift Award, which recognizes individuals possessing the qualities of persistence, integrity and achievement.

After retiring from the UAW, Fraser began a second career as a distinguished university professor of labor studies at Wayne State University. Fraser also was a lecturer at Harvard, Notre Dame and other universities.

In November 1997, the College of Urban, Labor and Metropolitan Affairs at Wayne state University created the Douglas A. Fraser Center for Workplace Issues. Housed at the university's Walter P. Reuther Library, it is a fitting tribute to the man who always focused his career and energies on improving the economic and social well-being of working Americans.

Regarded as labor’s statesman, his first concern was always the membership. “He never forgot that we were working for our active and retired members,” said Gettelfinger. “We will continue to draw encouragement from his life and his legacy.”

The UAW extends its deepest sympathy to Doug’s wife, Winifred, and their family.



UAW, union retirees file proposed settlement establishing VEBA trust


The UAW, along with UAW retirees, has filed a proposed settlement of health care claims against General Motors. If approved by the U.S. District Court, the settlement will establish an independent Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) trust, which will pay health benefits for current and future UAW GM retirees, including all seniority employees on the active rolls at GM as of Sept. 14, 2007.

“This proposed settlement will put into effect what we negotiated in 2007,” said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. “Through hard work and hard bargaining, we have negotiated an innovative way to secure health care benefits for UAW GM retirees.”

The VEBA trust, said Gettelfinger, “will be managed by independent trustees with expertise in health care, investments, finance and other key areas. We are confident it will have sufficient assets and sufficient cash flow to pay benefits to our retirees for the next 80 years.”

The class action, UAW and Henry v. General Motors Corporation (Case No. 07-CV-14074), filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, is an outgrowth of the collective-bargaining agreement between the UAW and GM in 2007.

A similar case was filed in 2005, when the UAW and GM agreed to modify health care benefits for retirees. Under the terms of U.S. labor law, modifications of benefits for retirees cannot be finalized at the bargaining table and are subject to litigation and court approval.

Class action litigation will also be required to implement the independent VEBA trusts negotiated in 2007 for UAW Ford and UAW Chrysler retirees.

The proposed settlement, a copy of which will be mailed to approximately 295,000 UAW GM retirees and surviving spouses, includes the agreement that will govern the independent VEBA trust for retirees.

The VEBA trust will be funded by contributions of billions of dollars in cash, stock and other assets from General Motors. It will be governed by a board of 11 independent trustees, including five appointed by the UAW and six public trustees. Under terms of the proposed settlement, which is subject to court approval, GM will continue to pay retiree health care benefits until Jan. 1, 2010. The independent VEBA trust will pay benefits beginning on that date.

The independent trust, pre-funded by GM, provides long-term security for UAW retirees, said UAW Vice President Cal Rapson. “GM can’t cut benefits for our retirees, or threaten to cut them. And since the money for our benefits will be paid up front, our retirees will have important protections in case of changes in GM's financial condition.

“The VEBA trust will protect our retirees. That’s why we negotiated it last year, and that’s why we’re supporting this proposed settlement.”

U.S. District Court has scheduled a hearing June 3 in Detroit to consider approval of the proposed settlement.


UAW opposes Blues Cross Blue Shield bills


DETROIT – The UAW said today that health care legislation proposed by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan would be a “step backward” for health care in Michigan.

“The market for individual health insurance in Michigan is broken,” said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, “but these bills are not the fix we need.”

For decades, Gettelfinger said, Michigan citizens have been able to secure affordable health insurance in the individual market without regard to their health status. The Blue Cross Blue Shield proposals linking insurance premiums to health status “would shift costs to the chronically ill and the aged – those most in need of health insurance. That’s not an acceptable solution to our health care crisis.”

The proposed legislation claims to guarantee access to health care, offering a so-called high-risk pool to those who will be rejected because of their medical history. “The high-risk pool is actually a high-price pool, and many individual customers will not be able to afford it,” Gettelfinger said. “There’s no guaranteed coverage if you can’t afford it – a fate awaiting many of our most vulnerable citizens.”

While pushing aggressively for so-called “reform” legislation, Blue Cross Blue Shield has not provided data on how the proposed bills would affect the premiums paid by individual purchasers of health insurance.

“It would be irresponsible for state legislators to vote on these bills without knowing how it will affect the health insurance bills paid by consumers,” said Gettelfinger. “Without that information, deliberations on this proposal should not continue.”

The UAW also opposes a companion bill sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield that would allow the company to expand its business to include other forms of insurance.

“Blue Cross Blue Shield has no significant expertise in these areas of the insurance market,” Gettelfinger said. “It would be counterproductive for the Blues to divert capital and other resources from their primary mission of providing quality health care at an affordable price to Michigan citizens.

“The challenges of the individual health care market in Michigan cannot be borne by any one company, but must be equitably shared among all insurers. UAW members will work with the insurance industry, employers, consumers and other stakeholders to ensure that quality, affordable insurance is available to everyone in Michigan.”