STRIKE UPDATE AND POSSIBLE SETTLEMENT
To all: Brothers and Sisters of Local 2195 UAW Retiree Chapter.
This is not the notification I wanted to be sending out however we are dealing with the reality of the times. As you may or may not be aware UAW/GM reached a tentative agreement on Wednesday, Oct. 16 in hopes of settling a five (5) week strike which will go into the sixth (6) week by the time the contract can be ratified. The ratification of the contract is a democratic process and it will be up to the active dues paying UAW Membership at GM that are on strike; that will vote to accept or decline the new four (4) year proposed contract.
Most of our members may have heard there are no gains or improvements for the GM/Delphi Retirees in this agreement. The only mention of the Retiree I have found is the spouse of a deceased member will be eligible for our Legal Service Plan after contract is approved. This is a welcome improvement however not exactly what we expected or hoped for.
There were many extremely tough issues in this set of negotiations problems that we never faced in previous contract negotiations. Just to name a couple 1) the two tier system 2) the use of temporary employees. Both of these groups received inferior wages and benefits as compared to the regular full time employees. It is our understanding they were able to address and accomplish progress to help resolve these important issues, unfortunately our retiree proposal did not receive any resolution.
On a personal note, I was a young man with a family, and went through a ten (10) week strike in 1970 (very tough) on Union workers, the Company and the Communities. The times were different and the circumstances were different. We did not have the foreign manufacturing in the Country at that time and there wasn’t very much work shipped out of the USA to Countries like Mexico.
The foreign manufactures have brought many changes and challenges into our Country since our strike in 1970… The UAW and all US Labor Unions maintained enough strength to protect all auto related worker jobs both pay and benefits as well as continuing improvements at the bargaining table. The foreign car companies that came into the USA had to provide wages and benefits to compare with the American Contracts to attract employees and maintain a non-union work place. That was the way they established their business advantage. As time went by they introduced the two tiers work force and a wage system in their manufacturing operations. They also started using temporary workers on an ongoing large scale. This did not present a problem for the American Auto Workers in the early days however as time passed these action and manufacturing methods by these foreign Companies began to eat away at the ability of the U.S Unions to continue progress for the workers. (One sad note the Foreign Manufactures were being subsidized by our tax dollars. Communities were begging these foreign companies to come into their communities they were seeking employment opportunities and economic development. (You might say we were producing the tax dollars that were being used to take away our strength at the bargaining table.)
I raised this issue to make this point the workers in these Foreign Auto Operated Plants have refused to join or support our UNIONS even though our unions have provided a base for their good pay and benefits. After many opportunities for these worker to organize their work place and their failure to join Unions has placed a strain on the bargaining process that has created the climate the Unions workers are dealing with today. The union bargaining always proved beneficial for the non-union workers employed in owned foreign plants even though their management likes their union free environment. The erosion of the bargaining ability to satisfy or help all workers active and retired is at a fatal stage. This movement has been moving like a slow inoperative cancer for many years.
Let us never forget we were GM/Delphi employees the UAW is our representative agent it takes two to agree and one to stop an agreement. The UAW made many honest and fair requests for improvements for the GM/Delphi Retirees at the bargaining table; it was the GM Corporation Representatives that rejected all request for our retirees.
Although we didn’t receive gains at the bargaining table our Health Care Insurance via the UAW RETIREE HEALTH CARE TRUST has seen a number of improves since it was implemented over the years. As you know the review takes place once a year by Health Care Administrators. There are always issues with Health Care and some providers which are addressed on continuing bases. Our Health Care Coverage is considered the Cadillac of Health Care Programs and we never missed a pension check while the strike continues. I hope I have brought a few thoughts to you about where we are and why negotiations have changed. My hope is you look at the Contract and say at least someone is standing up for the temporary workers and fighting against the two tier system; workers that have been so misused. It is a shameful the on-going abuse of Temporary Workers in our great Country and the fact it has bleed over into our Union plants. Maybe just maybe this strike will certify that there are those that are willing to stand up and fight for this systematic erosion of the middle class work force. Who knows the non-union workers in these Foreign Auto Plants may realize and stand up for what they know is the right way to protect themselves and the temporary workers in their plants. They needed to be a part of the Labor Movement. Temporary Workers have been used to erode the middle class and become too many of their employers nothing more, in their management scheme, economic servants that work and at their will.
I know I have been long but I have said something’s that I believe our members need to be reminded of every now and again. Our Union is still fighting the good fight and needs the RETIREES support now more than ever. Whatever happens with the ratification of the contract, vote up or down we need our Retirees and active UAW Members to remain together in Solidarity:
We have received many thanks for our support of the strikers at the GM Springhill, TN plant. These are strictly my thoughts about where we are your opinion and input is both wanted and welcome. 256-353-7893
Solidarity, Solidarity, Solidarity, Forever,
Chuck McDonald, Chairman Local 2195 Retiree Chapter