friday, 20 september of 2019


Ex Ford CEO Fields says UAW corruption probe makes rank-and-file union members skeptical of any deal

Former Ford CEO Mark Fields said that the United Auto Workers corruption probe will make it harder for union leaders to get their rank-and-file members to sign off on any potential new labor deal with Detroit automakers.

“When you reach a tentative deal, the [companies] are relying on the union leadership to sell that to their rank-and-file,” Fields said on CNBC’s "Closing Bell." "So it doesn’t weaken the UAW’s negotiating power, but what it does do is weaken the loyalty and the trust that the rank-and-file have in the leadership."

He said General Motors has taken a hardball approach in negotiations this year. "At a minimum, it doesn’t build good will with the rank-and-file, and at worst, it angers them and makes them dig their heels in," Fields continued.

The UAW’s Region 5 Director Vance Pearson, who’s also a member of the union’s International Executive Board, was arrested last week and charged with embezzling union funds.

It’s the latest in a four-year probe that’s led to the convictions of eight union and company officials affiliated with Fiat Chrysler as well as Michael Grimes, a retired senior official with the union’s GM division.

On Monday, the union launched its first company-wide strike at GM in 12 years, saying negotiations towards a new deal that would cover about 48,000 hourly workers had stalled.

GM outlined its offer to the union in a statement Sunday saying the deal included "solutions" for assembly plants in Michigan and Ohio that are currently idle, $7 billion in U.S. investment and a signing bonus totaling $8,000 per worker. GM also said the union would retain its “nationally leading” health care benefits.

Ratification of tentative agreements traditionally hasn’t been a problem. However workers with Fiat Chrysler four years ago rejected an initial deal – which sent negotiators back to the table.

Ahead of the current negotiations, industry analysts cautioned that the ratification of any agreement could be challenging as the federal corruption probe reaches into the UAW’s highest ranks.


More than 49,000 union workers for General Motors walked off their jobs Sunday, 15/09, night at and went on a nationwide strike after negotiations for a new labor contract hit a stalemate.

During a news conference in Detroit on Sunday morning, 15/09, United Auto Workers spokesman Brian Rothenberg said GM workers across the country would form picket lines at 11:59 p.m., 24 hours after a four-year labor contract expired.

"At midnight tonight, the picket lines will go up," Rothenberg said. "But basically, when the morning shift would have reported for work, they won´t be there. The picket lines are being set up."

UAW confirmed in a one-sentence statement at 11:59 p.m. that the strike had begun. Workers were filmed marching outside a GM assembly plant in Hamtramck, Michigan, at midnight.

GM officials said they have offered the UAW promises to invest more than $7 billion in the United States, add more than 5,400 jobs and improve benefits.

"We presented a strong offer that improves wages, benefits and grows U.S. jobs in substantive ways and it is disappointing that the UAW leadership has chosen to strike at midnight tonight," GM officials said in a statement Sunday. "We have negotiated in good faith and with a sense of urgency. Our goal remains to build a strong future for our employees and our business.

A strike was called after UAW leaders from across the nation met in Detroit on Sunday morning to consider what action to take after the workers´ labor contract expired.

Union leaders claimed that GM officials "refused to give even an inch" to reach a new agreement contract.

"We stood up for General Motors when they needed us most. Now we are standing together in unity and solidarity for our members, their families and the communities where we work and live," said UAW Vice President Terry Dittes in a statement after a strike was authorized by union leadership.

Union leaders have argued that GM workers deserved a bigger slice of the company´s record profits, which they say have totaled $35 billion in North America over the last three years. In August, GM reported solid second-quarter earnings with income up $2.4 billion, an increase of 1.6% over the previous year.

Union members are calling for higher wages, retention of a health insurance plan in which workers pay about 4% of the costs, an improved pension plan and assurances that GM -- the makers of Buick, Cadillac, GMC and Chevrolet -- will not close four plants in Maryland, Ohio and Michigan.

While the UAW let the GM workers´ contract expire, the union leaders signed indefinite extensions of the current contract with Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) workers.

The strike comes nearly a year after GM announced it was laying off 15 percent of its salaried workers and shuttering five plants in North America. At the time, the company said it was "transforming its global workforce to ensure it has the right skill sets for today and the future, while driving efficiencies through the utilization of best-in-class tools."

(Published by CNBC and ABC News, September 20 2019)

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