UAW Goes on Strike against GM
The UAW has gone on strike against General Motors.
Thousands of United Auto Workers walked off the job at GM plants around the country Monday, in the first nationwide strike during auto contract negotiations since 1976.
The UAW has 73,000 members who work for GM at 82 U.S. facilities, including assembly and parts plants and warehouses.
[GM spokesman Dan] Flores said the automaker is disappointed in the UAW’s decision to call a national strike. “The bargaining involves complex, difficult issues that affect the job security of our U.S. work force and the long-term viability of the company. We remain fully committed to working with the UAW to develop solutions together to address the competitive challenges facing GM,” Flores said.
GM had been pushing hard for the health care trust — known as a Voluntary Employees Beneficiary Association, or VEBA — so it could move $51 billion in unfunded retiree health costs off its books. GM has nearly 339,000 retirees and surviving spouses.
While GM has enough cars and trucks to withstand a short strike — the automaker had about a 65-day supply of cars and trucks as September began, according to Paul Taylor, chief economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association — it still would be costly for the company.
After years of one-sided negotiations, with the auto companies having all the leverage, one understands the workers’ frustrations with constantly being asked to do more while getting less in return. Unfortunately, however, that’s what will inevitably happen here. GM, like all the other companies which came out of the post-World War II boom with incredibly generous compensation and benefits packages, simply can’t compete under the old model anymore. They’re in a global economy competing against robust companies like Honda and Toyota that can put out great products without the burden of paying retirement and, especially, health benefits.
It’s not at all inconceivable that Americans will no longer be in the car manufacturing business twenty years from now. The UAW may well be hastening that product.