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UAW says Chrysler-Fiat alliance offers new opportunities


The alliance announced today between Fiat and Chrysler "offers Chrysler new opportunities to compete in the U.S. market and the global marketplace," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

"As the U.S. auto industry undergoes a restructuring process, this alliance has the potential to preserve a wide range of choices for U.S. consumers, as well as good-paying manufacturing jobs for our communities," said Gettelfinger.

"We're going to work with Chrysler and Fiat in the days and weeks ahead, and UAW members will have a voice as this new alliance takes shape," said UAW Vice President General Holiefield, who directs the union's Chrysler Department. "Our focus is going to be on preserving good jobs and building great vehicles.

"Throughout various changes in ownership and management in recent years, one thing has remained constant: UAW members at Chrysler are dedicated to quality and committed to delivering the best possible cars and trucks to our customers," said Holiefield. "That's not going to change."

UAW says labor board 'made the right call' with complaint against NTN-Bower


Ball bearing company treats members of UAW Local 1990 unfairly

HAMILTON, Ala. -- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has made the right call by issuing complaints against precision ball bearing manufacturer NTN-Bower Corp. for violating U.S. labor law and denying workers their protected rights to engage in union activity, said UAW Region 8 Director Gary Casteel.

More than 225 members of UAW Local 1990 have been treated unfairly and illegally by NTN-Bower since July 23, when workers agreed to return to their jobs after being forced into a year-long work stoppage. The complaints stem from how the company treated former strikers who wanted to return to work.

"These workers have faced threats and intimidation simply because they have exercised their rights," Casteel said.

The NLRB has alleged that NTN-Bower has refused to bargain in good faith; tried to enforce unfair work rules; refused to reinstate workers after the strike ended; threatened workers who formed, joined and assisted the union, and tried to coerce workers to sign away their protected rights to due process.

"This is an unjustified attack against hard-working men and women who want to go to work every day so they can feed their families and support their community," Casteel said. "These workers deserve better. Our community deserves better. We will continue to seek a full measure of justice for violations of law by this employer."

Also, said Casteel, the union has asked the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to investigate complaints that NTN-Bower is subjecting its employees to an unsafe and hazardous work conditions.

"Our members at NTN-Bower have some very serious health and safety concerns," said Casteel. "But instead of working together to solve the problem, the company slammed the door and refused to allow OSHA to complete an investigation that could help remedy the situation."

A hearing on the complaint issued against NTN Bower by the NLRB has been scheduled for Feb. 9 before an administrative law judge.

"Our union stands 100 percent behind NTN-Bower workers in their fight for a safe workplace and fairness on the job," Casteel said.



UAW applauds auto loans, but says workers must not be singled out for unfair conditions


DETROIT -- "We're pleased that the Bush administration has acted today to provide urgently needed emergency bridge loans to America's auto companies and to pursue a process for restructuring outside of bankruptcy," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. "This will keep the doors of America's factories open, keep Americans working and prevent the devastating economic consequences for millions of Americans and thousands of businesses that would have resulted from a liquidation of operations by one or more auto companies."

The UAW, Gettelfinger said, is reviewing the documents released today. "All stakeholders -- management, directors, bondholders, suppliers, dealers, workers -- will have to participate in shared sacrifices to help the industry move forward," he said, noting that UAW members have already made substantial sacrifices to help make the domestic auto companies more competitive.

"While we appreciate that President Bush has taken the emergency action needed to help America's auto companies weather the current financial crisis, we are disappointed that he has added unfair conditions singling out workers," said Gettelfinger. "These conditions were not included in the bipartisan legislation endorsed by the White House, which passed the House of Representatives and which won support from a majority of senators.

"We will work with the Obama administration and the new Congress to ensure that these unfair conditions are removed," said Gettelfinger, "as we join in the coming months with all stakeholders to create a viable future for the U.S. auto industry."



Evansville casino dealers' union is official


UAW dealers and Casino Aztar to begin bargaining

EVANSVILLE, Ind. -- UAW members at Casino Aztar have reached an agreement with management to begin bargaining for a first contract for more than 200 casino dealers.

"This is a great start and we're happy to be moving forward to the bargaining table," said Salli Rackley, a dealer at Casino Aztar since opening in December 1995 and chair of the bargaining committee.

Dealers at Casino Aztar voted 106 to 59 on Oct. 27, 2007, to form a union and seek UAW representation. The UAW represents nearly 9,000 gaming workers in Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut, Indiana and Rhode Island.

Casino Aztar management, however, appealed the results of the election, delaying the start of bargaining until the agreement announced today.

Casino Aztar has agreed to accept the results of the election and bargain with the union, while the UAW has agreed to withdraw unfair labor practice charges filed with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board relating to unilateral changes casino managers had made to health insurance coverage for dealers. Under U.S. labor law, management cannot make unilateral changes to terms and conditions of employment -- including health care coverage -- once workers have elected to form a union and bargain with their employer.

As part of the agreement, Casino Aztar has agreed to compensate workers to offset increased heath insurance costs resulting from unilateral management changes.

Support from the Evansville community was important in bringing the parties together, said Mo Davison, director of UAW Region 3, which includes Indiana and Kentucky.

"We applaud the encouragement that Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel offered to the parties to resolve our differences," said Davison. "And we are looking forward to assisting workers at Casino Aztar in winning what they have long deserved: a first contract which will improve their jobs and improve their workplace."

Negotiations are expected to begin in the coming weeks.

"We are happy to start negotiations with Casino Aztar and expect that this is the beginning of a cooperative and productive relationship," said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union's Technical Office and Professional Organizing Department. "Working together, employers and workers can ensure that Casino Aztar continues to be a vital and thriving part of the Evansville community."



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


"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


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


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


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."