So the striking workers at General Motors got off the picket line today after their union reps hammered out what some are calling a historic deal with management, says CNNMoney.com. The historic aspect had to do with the agreed-upon creation of a trust fund to be managed by the union and that would assume the costs of retiree health benefits. But that wasn’t all, said United Auto Workers president Ron Gettelfinger:
Gettelfinger said Monday the union needed job guarantees for its members before it could agree to the cost savings sought by the company to return its operations to profitability. On Wednesday, he termed the job guarantees won by the union as “outstanding.”
A big part of the dispute revolved around guaranteeing job security for GM’s unionized workers, which is likely to involve the opening or reopening of auto factories in the U.S. rather than moving those jobs abroad. That’s critical for the UAW:
As recently as 1994, it had nearly a quarter-million members working at GM alone. But plant closings and the spinoff of GM’s parts unit Delphi have shaved its membership working at the company by 70 percent since then.
Okay, so not to harp on this like the grump I am. But I don’t get lifetime retirement health coverage. I don’t get guaranteed job security. I wish I could just get over my petty jealousy, be happy for my fellow worker and applaud his historic gains. As Gerry said in a comment to my earlier post on this subject, “If a private company wants to spend gobs of cash on salaries and medical insurance for retired workers they should go ahead. If they can make a profit and still pay people not to work, that’s great.”
But the point is GM can’t do that and make a profit. Back to CNNMoney:
In July, the domestic brands of GM, Ford and Chrysler had less than half of U.S. auto sales for the first time in history, although a good sales month by GM in August got them back over the 50 percent market.
GM itself has seen its share fall from just under a third of the U.S. market as recently as 1995 to just under a quarter of the market so far this year. The automaker fell below 30 percent of U.S. market share in 1998, the year a strike at two UAW locals in Flint, Mich., shutdown most of its North American operations for seven weeks. It has never gotten back above that benchmark. It is unlikely to have lost any sales from this short strike, though.
But GM lost nearly $13 billion on its core North American auto operations in 2005 and 2006 combined, as it paid more than 30,000 UAW members up to $140,000 each to leave the company.
What’s Liz Edwards doing there, anyway? Shilling for her hubby, that’s what: