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Gettelfinger: ‘We did what we had to do’ to save UAW jobs

May 27, 2010

Gettelfinger: ‘We did what we had to do’ to save UAW jobs

The Detroit News

Detroit — Outgoing United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger said it is a "fair question" whether the $14-an-hour starting wage for new workers at the Detroit Three automakers is enough so they can buy the cars they will build.

"It’s an open debate" in a democratic union, Gettelfinger told a group of reporters at an Automotive Press Association event this afternoon at the Detroit Athletic Club.

"We did what we had to do to get to tomorrow," he said, referring to the concessions the UAW made in the past few years to help the domestic automakers survive.

Those sacrifices include paying new auto workers nearly half the wage of existing workers.

"I’m confident and very proud, and we made the right decisions," said Gettelfinger, who retires as UAW president at the union’s convention in mid-June.

Gettelfinger also said he believes the declining UAW membership has "bottomed out." In the past couple of months, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Chrysler LLC have all announced they plan to add workers at some facilities in the next year.

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