July 25, 2011

by Gary Walkowicz

UAW President Bob King said that the union leadership supports profit-sharing, but not wage increases, for Ford, GM and Chrysler workers in the new contract.

If our wages stay the same for the next 4 years, while prices go up, that means our purchasing power is steadily going down. If we can’t buy as much 4 years from now as we can today, then our standard of living has gone down. Let’s say it like it is – a wage freeze is a wage cut.

After years of concessions, autoworkers have already fallen far behind the cost-of-living. Ford workers have had one base wage increase in the last 9 years, while prices for gas and food and clothing and almost everything else has gone up and up. Can we afford to go another 4 years falling further and further behind?

Profit-sharing instead of raises?

We need our raises and our COLA back. We need something that is guaranteed. Depending on profit-sharing means letting the companies tell us what they are going to pay us. Do you trust the auto companies? Do you really think profit-sharing will pay as much money as getting a raise every year?

The history of profit-sharing shows what a scam it is. For Ford workers, we have had profit-sharing in the contract for the last 28 years. In 8 of those years, our profit-sharing was a big fat ZERO. In 5 more years, our profit-sharing was between $160 and $600 (before taxes). That means, almost half the time our take home pay from profit-sharing was less than $400.

The auto company executives themselves are calling for profit-sharing instead of raises. So if the companies are pushing for profit-sharing, who do you think profit-sharing will benefit, us or them? And when their promises of big profit-sharing checks don’t materialize, who is going to help us pay the electric bill, the mortgage and our car note? We can’t live on promises.

Competitive with who?

Bob King says that we can’t demand raises from the auto companies because we have to help them stay “competitive”. Competitive with who? Ford just had one of their most profitable years ever. Was Ford being competitive when Alan Mulally and Bill Ford were each paid $26.5 Million last year? And, oh yeah, Mulally and Bill Ford were also given a total of $98.9 Million in stock options last year. How competitive are they?

For years, they have used this talk about being “competitive” to justify taking tens of thousands of dollars in concessions from autoworkers. Now that the auto companies are making big profits again, they want to sell us the same old crap about being “competitive”. Hey, Bob King, autoworkers need “competitive” wages so that we can pay our damn bills!!!

Gary Walkowicz
Bargaining Committeeman, Local 600, Dearborn Truck Plant

(313) 737-3166


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