UAW vying for new GM products in contract talks

UAW vying for new GM products in contract talks

Newswire, Mar 29, 2011 1:24 PM v < * UAW to 'put a big emphasis on jobs' in contract talks * Without jobs, wages "don't mean as much'- union official By Bernie Woodall LAKE ORION, Mich., March 29 (Reuters) - The United Auto Workers will seek a commitment from General Motors Co to build new products at two idled plants in Tennessee and Wisconsin in upcoming contract negotiations, a top union official said. Joe Ashton, the UAW's vice president for GM, said on Tuesday it would be easier to reopen the now-idle assembly line at its Spring Hill, Tennessee plant, where GM still builds engines and has stamping operations. By contrast, there is no production at GM's plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, where only a few security workers maintain the property. Getting new jobs will be a priority for the UAW in upcoming contract talks, Ashton told reporters at GM's Orion Assembly Center in Michigan, which later this year will begin making the Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano. "We're going to put a big emphasis on jobs," Ashton said, comparing this year's talks with those of four years ago. "We could talk about wages, which is really important to our membership," Ashton added. "But if you don't have jobs, as you can see, wages really don't mean as much." The union was still going into the talks "the same way we have in the past," Ashton said. "But we do know it's a different time. We want to remain competitive." Later this year, the Orion assembly plant will have 1,550 workers on two shifts. Forty percent of those hourly workers will make what is called a second-tier wage. This wage is about half what the majority of the workers at the plant will make. (Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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