Remember when Presidents Obama and Lee toured the GM plant in Michigan and everything appeared to be fine and swell? Now it has come out that it appears that the administration got the UAW to stop a planned protest during Lee’s visit:
Former auto czar and wealthy Wall Street financier Steven Rattner told a luncheon in Detroit on Thursday that while the $50 billion GM bailout was successful, “we should have asked the UAW to do a bit more. We did not ask any UAW member to take a cut in their pay.” He also said that “friends on Wall Street” were concerned by GM’s earnings and communications with the market, pushing the stock down to a level that would lose the goverment $14 billion if it sold its shares today.
Meanwhile, at General Motors’ Orion Township, Mich., plant about 45 minutes away from where Rattner spoke, there are three tiers of hourly workers. Roughly 900 workers at the top tier, the most senior UAW workers, make $29 an hour, a rate unchanged since 2008. Another 500 or so UAW workers are paid about $16 an hour — a rate, adjusted for inflation, equal to the famed $5 a day Henry Ford started paying his workers in 1914.
And at the bottom scale are 200-odd workers technically employed by an outside supplier but who work in the plant moving parts to the assembly line, jobs once done by GM workers paid $29 an hour. The contractors’ pay: $9 an hour with no health care, a rate which over a year’s work would leave them below the poverty level for a family of four.
GM’s contract with the UAW that convinced the company to move small-car production to Orion from South Korea allows it to shift such work to the outside supplier. That supplier has resisted UAW bargaining, and the tensions have grown high enough that UAW workers at the plant picketed earlier this month and sought approval from the union for a strike. (They delayed one planned picket so that President Obama could tour the plant with South Korea’s president). [Yahoo Autos]
It appears that the UAW would rather these workers not have a job at all considering that GM moved the plant from South Korea to Michigan because of the lower wages the contractors offered. If these workers were UAW workers making $29 an hour GM would have never moved the plant to the US.