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How GM Repaid the UAW


During the auto bailout, GM demanded all sorts of things from the United Auto Workers, including the hideous two-tiered contracts that the union is fighting against today. Julianne Malveaux’s essay on how GM betrayed the UAW in the aftermath of those worker sacrifices is well worth reading.

“We gave up a cost-of-living increase, a dollar-an-hour wage increase we were due, tuition assistance and more,” says Darrell Kennedy, a striking worker in UAW Region 1, Local 22, in a union-produced YouTube video.

William Spriggs, Howard University professor and chief economist for the AFL-CIO, is almost apoplectic at GM’s rigid opposition, calling it “the height of audacity.”

“The UAW saved General Motors. Now they are making record profits, and they don’t want to take care of the workers who once took care of them,” he says.

His wife’s mother works for GM, he notes. “People like my mother-in-law put their pensions on the line in 2008. They deserve better.”

At the heart of the dispute is GM’s three-tiered wage system that allows the company to pay some workers as much as 50 percent less than fellow workers who do the very same job.

Those hired before 2007 are Tier One workers who earn the highest wages, roughly $31 per hour, plus guaranteed pensions. Those hired after 2007, Tier Two workers, earn about $17 an hour and instead of pensions have the opportunity for 401 (k) participation.

Finally, temporary workers earn even less than Tier Two workers and have fewer, if any, benefits.

The union wants better pay for Tier Two workers and a path to job security for temporary employees.

Capital repays labor the way it always does–by attempting to destroy it.

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