UAW Extends Contracts with Ford and FCA

Marco Green
September 14, 2019

A strike against General Motors looms large as contracts with the United Auto Workers and Detroit's three automakers is about to expire.

The pattern contract is being negotiated with General Motors Co.

"There is with little question a higher probability than in recent years of a strike, which is positively not saying there will be a strike", Harley Shaiken, a labor relations professor at the University of California at Berkeley, told CBS MoneyWatch.

"At that time we will have a statement whether there is a proposed tentative agreement, an extension or a strike".

When negotiations between the UAW and GM started in July, the sides were far apart on issues including wages and job security, Shaiken said. Contracts expire this weekend and the investigation is having repercussions as the UAW tries to assure its members that their interests are top of mind.

A strike would idle 14,465 hourly workers at 13 GM plants in MI. The UAW says members' wages have dived 16% in inflation-adjusted terms since 2010.

Strikes at GM by the UAW have lasted a couple of day to weeks in past years.

- The union also wants new products for four factories GM wants to close. "I think there's really going to be a big problem down the road in matching the expectations of the union and the willingness of General Motors to be able to give the membership what it wants".

Automakers strive to have at least a 60-day supply of vehicles, and GM now has a 77-day supply, Shaiken noted.

If there is a strike, it would be the union's first since a short one against GM in 2007.

Four GM plants remain in Flint, one which builds trucks, an engine plant, a metal center, and a tool and die shop.

The Pearson complaint unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Detroit details "an embezzlement scheme whereby UAW officials hid their personal use of UAW money without any legitimate union business goal". GM, however, is readying for an economic slowdown in coming years and is resisting UAW efforts that would increase its long-term costs.

The corruption probe initially focused on the misuse of worker training funds by union and FCA officials, but it has now spread to a probe of senior union officials improperly spending money on themselves, the source told the Free Press.

Agents seized $30,000 from Jones' home during nationwide raids last month of UAW-affiliated individuals, according to the Pearson complaint referencing Jones as "UAW Official A". The corruption investigation has so far led to the convictions of eight people.

Pearson, who succeeded Jones as head of a 17-state region stretching from Missouri to California, was arrested Thursday in Missouri and faces six charges ranging from embezzlement of union money to money laundering.

"While these allegations are very concerning, we strongly believe that the government has misconstrued any number of facts and emphasize that these are merely allegations, not proof of wrongdoing", the UAW said in a statement Thursday.

Tensions have been running high ever since GM announced in November it would idle four US plants and the talks are complicated by an FBI investigation that resulted in fraud charges against a UAW official in the GM division along with an investigation of a lavish junket involving UAW President Gary Jones and former President Dennis Williams.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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