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New UAW Contract with General Motors


In a huge victory for the United Auto Workers, the union signed a new contract with General Motors that actually improves workers’ lives rather than accept rollbacks. Starting workers get a pay raise, everyone gets a bonus in lieu of a pay raise, increased profit sharing, and health care and pensions are stabilized rather than decimated. Moreover, GM has agreed in the contract to reopen its closed plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, which was originally its model Saturn plant it centered so much in its advertising campaigns of the 1990s.

Essentially, GM is showing a social conscience here. The UAW and American taxpayers made sacrifices to bail out General Motors when it was about to go under. Now the company is paying the union back. Reopening the Tennessee factory also brings good paying jobs back to the United States, something our economy sorely needs.

I think GM should center this in its advertising campaigns and continue to open plants in the United States. I know that I am much more inclined to buy a GM car than I was before (and I will likely be in the market for a car soon). I think a lot of Americans would look favorably on a company that made a social contract with Americans and provided a big boost to the economy.

It’s also again worth noting what a great policy Obama made by bailing out the auto industry. I might be disappointed with him in some ways, but he saved the American economy by doing this. The fact that the Republican Party turned this against him shows how fundamentally unserious it is about economic recovery and what we can expect with a possible Perry presidency in 2013.

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  • Leeds man

    I’ve forgotten how to process good news.

    That should bode well for negotiations with Canadian auto workers next year.

  • MikeJake

    Incidentally, I caught part of a Ford commercial today with someone talking about how he decided to buy a Ford because he wanted to buy from a company that “stood on its own two feet,” or something along those lines. Seemed like a bit of a cheap shot to me.

    • I’m skeptical that the average buyer is going to put 2 and 2 together on that. Sour and ineffective advertising.

      • Don K

        Full disclosure, I’m a Ford retiree. With that out of the way, I don’t think it’s sour at all to point out that one company got its house in order early enough to avoid BK, and has earned a profit under the old UAW contract (no two-tier wage system), and paid substantial profit-sharing earlier this year (largest of the three companies, IIRC). Yeah, they tried to renegotiate the contract during the turmoil, but they didn’t get that, and they made do.

        Now, having gotten that off my chest, yes, the cars from GM are vastly improved over the ones from just a few years ago, as are the ones from Ford. Chrysler needs a run through a new cycle plan to undo the unfortunate effects of the German ownership followed by the Cerberus ownership. In any event, I’m glad you will give serious consideration to buying a car built by UAW people. Would that more labor liberals felt the same way.

        • mpowell

          It’s fair criticism, sure, but I’m not sure why a consumer should care. Doesn’t effect the quality of the car, which is why I’d say it’s poor advertising.

          • Right, good for Ford, but I don’t see how this is effective at all.

        • jmauro

          Even if Ford didn’t get a bailout, Toyota, Honda, and Ford all made it quite clear that if GM and Chrysler when down they’d take all three of them along for the ride. The supply networks of the large US auto manufactures are too intertwined and the loss of GM\Chrysler would wipe out all the suppliers Ford\Toyota\Honda depend on.

          So while Ford wasn’t bailed out directly, it definitely was bailed out indirectly and one of the largest cheerleaders for those that got direct bailouts. Saying it “stood on it’s own to feet” is disingenuous at best and likely an out right lie.

          • Anonymous

            Wake up and get a life before you talk.

      • mark f

        At least one bank in my area uses “never been bailed out” as a sales pitch. I don’t know how to tell if it’s been effective advertising or not, but they’ve been using the billboards for over a year now.

      • Sour and ineffective advertising.

        Also sour and ineffective: Nissan bragging that it has more cars available than Honda and Toyota. Why don’t they just show an executive with a Nissan lapel pin doing a happy dance to footage of the Fukajima plant?


      • patrick II

        I guess you don’t listen to Rush much. Neither do I really, but for awhile Rush was calling GM “government motors” and urging his listeners not to buy cars from them or Chrysler. He complained the company was union controlled and Obama would take advantage. I have heard the same thing from teapartiers — even saw a bumper sticker to that effect.
        I saw the Ford ad and I too thought it was a cheap shot, but not over the heads of a certain part of the public.

  • I can assure you that the Aveo you’re driving is not an accurate representation of the current product line…

    • Yes, well, one hopes not.

      Though my car is so old that just having something with a CD player and nice seats is a real change for me.

  • Next up: Republicans claim that driving GM’s autos will turn you into a gay commie abortionist.

  • Pingback: Daily Links for September 17th through September 19th | Akkam's Razor()

  • Anonymous

    This is the best news I have seen in a long time. Perhaps American labor really is starting to make a comeback.

    • DrDick

      Urk! That was me. Something seems to have wiped out my cache.

  • Western Dave

    My Honda was made in Marysville Ohio (where my wife’s dad’s family is from). Not sure where my Mazda (which is really a Ford) was made. Glad for GM workers. I didn’t have much choice with the Mazda. The 5 is the only car that is remotely small that could handle three car seats. (It does it by having three rows of 2 and basically no trunk.) The Honda minivan continues to beat the pants off the Town and Country (I used to have a Plymouth Voyager a long time ago).

  • c u n d gulag

    I wonder how Republicans will spin their buying Japanese and German cars as the height of patriotism?

  • Vir Modestus

    I’ve been car shopping for a bit. Gas mileage is really important to me. So is buying a) US made and/or b) union made. My choices came down to a Ford Fusion and a Toyota Camry Hybrid. One’s union and one isn’t, right?

    Alas, no. But one is made in the US and the other isn’t. Ford makes its Fusion in Mexico. Sure, they need jobs, too. But I’ll stick with the car made in the US, and that’s the Camry Hybrid.

    Having an ad that told me that a company stuck up for its workers and is bringing jobs back? I’d give them a second look.

    • witless chum

      Chevy Cruze? My memory is it’s not quite as good on mileage as either of those, but if you buy the Eco package, you can get close. We didn’t look that hard at anything that wasn’t GM’s because her dad’s a retiree, so we can use his employee discount number.

      My wife’s was built by the UAW in Lordstown, Ohio. Too bad it’s Ohio, but nothing’s perfect.

  • I’ll admit it; I’m a big old sucker for those GM and Chrysler commercials. “Imported from Detroit” – awesome. And I’m one of those people who used to roll their eyes at the “Buy American” schlock from the 80s.

    I suspect that I’m not the only one who’s undergone a transformation on this point, and that GM and Chrysler know this. Making intelligent decisions like treating their workers with respect and expanding domestic operations is not only showing a social conscience, but also an effort not to piss away the good will they’ve managed to acquire.

    • Scott Lemieux

      In my case, it was easy, since I didn’t drive in the 90s and most of the 2000s, and when I had to do research to buy a new car I was surprised how well the GM and Ford products measured up. Admittedly, the Cadillac CTS I got as a free upgrade on a drive to a job interview didn’t hurt…

  • Mark

    Labor Notes is not as optimistic about the deal.

  • edmond ramey

    i’m tired of foreign car companys advertising made in america. they are assembled in america. not made in usa.

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