Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Clarification

Based on unofficial sources we had previously reported that under the terms of the newly negotiated agreements new hires at GM and Chrysler would get a 401(k) instead of the traditional defined benefit pension. It is true the current defined benefit pension is gone for all those hired from now on. They will get a 401(k)--but that is only for post-retirement health care. A new cash balance, defined contribution retirement plan is being established for the sub-tier employees. So far we have seen no details other than there would be a company contribution of 6.4 percent of wages which would be invested in 30-year Treasury bonds.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Shortest Strike In History

10:40 PM Wednesday

The great Chrysler strike is over. Plants not already idled by the company were shut down by the UAW for 1.5 shifts. Actual picket lines were up no more than six hours.

Was Chrysler brought to its knees by this shortest contract strike in history? Did the bosses come begging for mercy, handing over whatever the union wanted?

While no details have been released yet it is known that the deal includes a VEBA similar to GM, buying out all future company guarantees of retiree health care. It has a new second wage tier for new hires along the lines of the General Motors settlement. Job commitments are even weaker than GM’s. According to an AP wire, “The guarantees, which translate into job security for union workers, are in many cases only for the life of current products, the person said. GM made guarantees at many factories that include the next generation of cars, trucks and parts.”

Several readers of the KC Labor e-mail list, referring to my earlier post calling for solidarity with Chrysler workers, have noted I didn’t have to defer criticism of the UAW leadership very long. I’ll have more to say about the second act of Surrender In Detroit as details become available.

Support Chrysler Strikers

Chrysler Strike

1PM-October 10.

At least a partial strike at Chrysler has begun. Five of the nine assembly plants covered by the present contract were already idled for inventory adjustment and the union has made a tactical move to exempt those from the strike, leaving those workers on their regular pay and benefits–for now anyway. A tenth plant, the new Jeep plant in Toledo, operates under a separate, special UAW contract and will continue to operate until it runs out of parts.

There was no immediate word of what remaining issues sparked first the strike deadline, then the walkout this morning. Clearly the strip and flip Cerberus Capital Management, the private equity that bought Chrysler from Daimler, has different priorities than GM and Ford and are not prepared to accept the GM “pattern.” They seem unlikely to agree to even the tenuous “job security” pledges made by General Motors--which were critical to getting a membership ratification of a contract with massive, historic give-backs. Cerberus evidently wants more.

The GM strike was orchestrated to last only two days. It is doubtful that Cerberus will be so accommodating. While there are many unknown factors the Chrysler strike has the potential to turn in to a rough fight.

We have been highly critical of the objectives, strategy, and tactics of the UAW leadership. Now that the strike has begun we will defer criticism until it is over. The main task is to build solidarity with Chrysler workers. We will use the Daily Labor News Digest and the Labor Advocate Blog to pass along information on this important struggle