September 20, 2011

by Gary Walkowicz

The tentative GM contract means this: GM will give the workers a signing bonus of $5,000 (before taxes), plus three $1,000 bonuses (before taxes) and GM will get to keep all of the concessions that they have taken from the workers.

NO raises, NO COLA, NO performance bonuses, NO Christmas bonuses, NO Easter Monday holiday, NO overtime after 8 hours, NO return of lost break time. NO end to skilled trades consolidation. Everything the workers wanted back, GM said “NO, NO, NO.”

First tier autoworkers lost up to $30,000 in concessions over the last several years. Now GM wants to continue these concessions for another 4 years. At what cost to us? Lose another $30,000? All for $8,000 in bonuses?

The biggest concession is that 2-tier will continue.

This contract does not bring up the 2nd-tier workers up to first tier. This contract keeps them permanent 2nd-tier, with no path to move up to first tier. The pay increase, $3.50/hour, spread over 4 years, does not even make up for money that GM 2nd-tier workers lost in the 2009 concessions when their wages were frozen and they lost bonuses. There is also no cap on the number of 2nd-tier workers.

The percentage of 2nd-tier workers will increase, which means the thrat of everyone being eventually reduced to 2nd-tier will increase.

The profit-sharing formula is supposed to be improved, by including North American operations instead of just the U.S. But what is to keep GM from now shifting profits to overseas operations or their financial arm? Do you trust GM? There is also a cap on profit-sharing when there didn't used to be one. How is that an improvement? And there is no guarantee of ANY profit-sharing.

Worst of all, they want to pit active workers against retirees by taking away 10% of profit-sharing and diverting it to the VEBA. Of course, we want to help retirees. The VEBA is underfunded because GM didn’t adequately fund it in 2007 and then further reduced it in 2009. The company has all the money, the company should fund it.

New retirees will take another hit because for the first contract ever, there is no increase in the 30-and-out pension. Current retirees get no increase while prices keep going up.

There are promises of 6,400 new jobs. Most of these jobs will be for 2nd-tier wages, If the promises of jobs are even kept. In the 2007 contract and 2009 modifications, we were promised that concessions would save and create more jobs. But in 2007, GM had 73,500 workers. Today GM has 48,000 workers. What happened to those promises for new jobs?

When these concessions were taken away from us, they wanted us to believe that when the companies were reporting a profit again, we would get back what we gave up. It was all a lie.

They want us to accept that these concessions will be permanent. But we don’t have to willingly accept that our families’ standard of living will be permanently reduced, while our bosses are the only ones who prosper from our hard work.

Gary Walkowicz
Bargaining Committeeman, Dearborn Truck Plant, Local 600

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