August 13, 2011

by Nick Waun

Since the tiered wage was introduced, it has been with us like the tail on a dog. And long after the dog died, the tail has continued to wag…

The next generation is being segregated and discriminated against. Seniority workers are being shoved aside to make room for new hires. With the tier two, there is no job security.

In 2007 we were sold a deal that was supposed to temporally help the companies save money, by allowing them to hire some new workers at half the pay. At GM those workers were never supposed to work on the assembly line. Several months after the contract was ratified, the UAW negotiated a second deal, one that was not made public. It’s called the “core/non-core agreement.” Suddenly, the lower wage new-hires were working side by side on the line with the top tier.

In 2009, the companies cried poverty, and the contract was modified to remove the cap on how many lower tier workers could be hired. By September 2010, GM and the Union secured a deal at Lake Orion, which made the lower wage permanent. Months later, UAW Vice President Joe Ashton announced that the Union was willing to make more deals like the one at Orion.

What is happening is called red circling. The companies and the Union have downgraded our pay. They have not been completely honest with us. The process of red circling puts a freeze on pay increases for those at the top, while allowing the company to gradually replace us with the lower wage This is the reason the companies do not want us to have our COLA back.

This time last year, I was laid off at Lake Orion, waiting for a return to work date. I was using the time to finish college. My Union leadership was telling me that there would be enough jobs for everyone to be called back to work, and that the only thing they were negotiating at Orion, was the outsourcing of some offline jobs.

One month later, I was forced to drop out of college, and move 280 miles away from my home, with just two weeks’ notice, to avoid taking a 50% pay cut for the privilege of staying at my home plant.

I now work in Lordstown Ohio, we make the Chevy Cruze. When I started there, I was shocked to discover that there are people at that plant, who have worked for General Motors for twice as long as I have, who are only getting half the pay. Some had started as temps as early as 2002, were hired in 2007 as tier one, but because of the core/non-core agreement, were forced to take a 50% pay cut several months after being hired.

For me and others who were forced to move to Ohio and elsewhere, the move seems pointless. We feel like we were tossed from one frying pan into another. Three people have committed suicide over this. Let’s make sure there aren’t any more. Stand up and say no more to this!

For many who are close to retirement, this will be there last chance to have a say in the future of the UAW. Don’t sell your children out. Demand that your leadership put in the contract an end-date for the tier two…. because your children might have to support you some day.

Nick Waun
Local 1112

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