UAW chief: Workers need to share in auto prosperity
UAW chief: Workers need to share in auto prosperity Friday, January 07, 2011By Keith Naughton, Bloomberg News SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — United Auto Workers President Bob King says union members’ sacrifices allowed U.S. automakers to survive and that workers deserve to share in the industry’s new prosperity.
“All the sacrifices that our members made to turn these companies around were part of the process that’s really led to this amazing turnaround,” Mr. King said. “We want our membership to share in a very meaningful way in the upside of these companies.”
Mr. King, 64, will negotiate new contracts this year with General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. While the accords don’t expire until September, Mr. King said he was already discussing with the companies how to reward workers. He has said UAW members each gave $7,000 to $30,000 in concessions to automakers since 2005.
GM, Ford and Chrysler on Tuesday reported their U.S. sales rose 13 percent last year. Their combined U.S. market share rose to 45.1 percent, from 44.2 percent, while Asian automakers lost ground, according to researcher Autodata Corp. of Woodcliff Lake, N.J. That came a year after GM and Chrysler went bankrupt and after Ford lost $30 billion from 2006 through 2008.
“We’ve expressed very strongly” the union’s view to GM, Ford and Chrysler, Mr. King said. “And they’re very interested in finding a way to make sure our members do share in the upside.”
A GM spokeswoman, Kimberly Carpenter, said GM was talking with the UAW about how to compensate workers.
“We have had some preliminary discussions on the topic, but those discussions are ongoing,” Ms. Carpenter said in an e-mailed statement. “We won’t be sharing any details externally until the discussions are finalized and we share the information with our work force.”
To help the automakers survive, the union surrendered raises, bonuses and cost-of-living adjustments.