Insider Opinion On GM-UAW Strike

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Thread: Insider Opinion On GM-UAW Strike

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    Insider Opinion On GM-UAW Strike

    The New York Times
    September 24, 2019

    By Steven Rattner
    Mr. Rattner served as counselor to the Treasury secretary and head of the White House Auto Task Force in the Obama administration.


    After years of labor peace in the automobile industry, about 50,000 members of the United Automobile Workers have gone on strike against General Motors, seeking to redress years of pain, particularly during the 2008 recession and subsequent rescue by the Obama administration.

    Having headed President Barack Obama’s auto task force, I’m deeply sympathetic to the plight of blue-collar workers in the automobile industry. But unfortunately, when it comes to the manufacturing sector, where the United States faces global competition, restoring the generous pay and benefits that used to accompany these jobs becomes impossible without jeopardizing the jobs themselves.

    The financial challenges of Americans toiling in the auto sector have been building for nearly two decades. Wages for blue-collar workers in the sector peaked (after adjusting for inflation) back in 2002 at $30.90 per hour, which was then roughly 44 percent more than the average for all jobs across the economy. Today, those once-prized jobs pay just $23.48, a thin dime less than what a typical worker across the economy earns.

    The principal culprit? Lower wages in emerging countries, particularly Mexico. At $3.29 per hour in 2015 (the most recent date for which reliable data is available), auto workers in that neighboring country were paid less than 14 percent of what the same worker in the United States earned. That didn’t matter so much when Mexican auto employees were less productive than their American counterparts. But even a decade ago, when I was working on the auto rescue, executives at the Detroit companies told me that their plants in Mexico were running just as efficiently as those in the United States.

    Since then, that pay gap has been partly closed, but not surprisingly the union wants it closed faster. Meanwhile, the U.A.W. is fighting to preserve for existing workers one of the most generous health care plans in the country; its members pay only about 4 percent of their medical bills. (By comparison, workers across the country pay an average of 28 percent of their health care costs, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.)

    I’m all for workers earning more, but it’s important to understand that, at least in the car industry, this is not a case of rapacious investors profiting at the expense of workers. Since its initial public offering in November 2010, G.M. stock has risen by only 13 percent, compared with 154 percent for the overall market.

    We need to be realistic about these challenges. The United States government can support the auto industry with initiatives like the new trade deal with Mexico, which would require that 40 to 45 percent of the vehicle is made by workers earning at least $16 per hour. But Mr. Trump’s flowery rhetoric notwithstanding, we’ll be lucky just to keep the jobs we have now.








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    Re: Insider Opinion On GM-UAW Strike

    I’m all for workers earning more, but it’s important to understand that, at least in the car industry, this is not a case of rapacious investors profiting at the expense of workers. Since its initial public offering in November 2010, G.M. stock has risen by only 13 percent, compared with 154 percent for the overall market.
    There will be no "winner" when the strike is settled.

    Here's hoping the two sides can get along well enough to serve their customer base with efficient, value oriented and high quality products.

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    Re: Insider Opinion On GM-UAW Strike

    "Insider opinion"?

    From a POLITICAL insider, not someone from inside industry or labor. Not the kind of insider that matters here.
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    Re: Insider Opinion On GM-UAW Strike

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainDan View Post
    "Insider opinion"?

    From a POLITICAL insider, not someone from inside industry or labor. Not the kind of insider that matters here.
    I understand your point, but one would be hard pressed to find someone with more knowledge of both sides of the industry.

    wikipedia.com:

    In February 2009, with General Motors and Chrysler insolvent, Rattner was appointed counselor and lead auto adviser to the United States Secretary of the Treasury, a role informally referred to in the media as the "car czar". He soon assembled a team that grew to 14 professionals to address the financial problems of the two auto companies.

    Reporting to both Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers, the head of the National Economic Council, Rattner's team developed a plan to save both the two manufacturers and related suppliers and finance companies. The plan involved a total government (i.e., taxpayer) investment of $82 billion in the sector, coupled with controlled bankruptcies for the two auto companies, as well as new management for both, and the closure of 2,000 automobile dealerships and loss of tens of thousands of related jobs. Controversially, during the negotiations with the bond holders, Rattner threatened their professional reputations in order to get them on board with the controlled bankruptcies

    Rattner later stated that the toughest decision for President Obama about the two auto companies was whether to save Chrysler. There was, however, no disagreement about asking GM CEO Richard Wagoner to step aside. By July 2009, both automakers had emerged from bankruptcy, had new management and were on their way to profitability.







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    Re: Insider Opinion On GM-UAW Strike

    Does anyone know how the UAW wages compare to the nonunion plants in the U.S. like Toyota, MB, Nissan etc. ?

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    Re: Insider Opinion On GM-UAW Strike

    Quote Originally Posted by Mingo View Post
    Does anyone know how the UAW wages compare to the nonunion plants in the U.S. like Toyota, MB, Nissan etc. ?
    I read recently that there is a $13 hr. total compensation gap (wages, retirement, insurance,etc.)
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    Re: Insider Opinion On GM-UAW Strike

    I thought the UAW paid for their health insurance ...... not GM who washed their hands years ago from paying for those premiums.
    Could it be maybe the UAWTrust is for just their retirees. Does anyone know more about this?

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    Re: Insider Opinion On GM-UAW Strike

    Quote Originally Posted by Al465 View Post
    I thought the UAW paid for their health insurance ...... not GM who washed their hands years ago from paying for those premiums.
    Could it be maybe the UAWTrust is for just their retirees. Does anyone know more about this?
    The UAW pays for health insurance during the strike but GM usually pays for health insurance. As a matter of fact, the workers pay $0 in premiums and 4% of total costs. What I find ironic is that the politicians who say they support the UAW (ie. Bernie Sanders) want to ban private plans and implement a national plan that would require premiums along with much more than 4% cost sharing. The politics are beside the point but this helps show that the health insurance offered by GM is amazing and complaining about it get's no sympathy from those on the outside.
    Last edited by Clownzilla; 09-24-2019 at 03:57 PM.
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    Re: Insider Opinion On GM-UAW Strike

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainDan View Post
    "Insider opinion"?

    From a POLITICAL insider, not someone from inside industry or labor. Not the kind of insider that matters here.
    Why not? I'm interested in opinions from BOTH sides of the argument...I'm not going to dismiss it as 'not mattering here' because I don't agree with it.

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    Re: Insider Opinion On GM-UAW Strike

    Quote Originally Posted by Mingo View Post
    Does anyone know how the UAW wages compare to the nonunion plants in the U.S. like Toyota, MB, Nissan etc. ?
    Quote Originally Posted by Clownzilla View Post
    I read recently that there is a $13 hr. total compensation gap (wages, retirement, insurance,etc.)
    My dad got a decent sized pension check; most companies don't give you that. It would be hard to take away from legacy workers, but new hires with a nominal 401K match wouldn't be objectionable to new-hires.

    Let's not forget; GM recently had record profits, so obviously the "outrageous wages & benefits" GM pays it workers isn't that big of an issue.

    Rattner makes slimey used-cars salesmen seem nicer volunteer workers at a hospital; he is very biased, let's not take anything he says, or the way he says it and implies, too seriously. But if we did................................

    "Today, those once-prized jobs pay just $23.48, a thin dime less than what a typical worker across the economy earns."

    So does GM want employees in the US or not, if GM merely pays an average wage; what is so outrageous about workers wanting more?

    Should a job at GM pay less than average?
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    Re: Insider Opinion On GM-UAW Strike

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed753 View Post
    My dad got a decent sized pension check; most companies don't give you that. It would be hard to take away from legacy workers, but new hires with a nominal 401K match wouldn't be objectionable to new-hires.

    Let's not forget; GM recently had record profits, so obviously the "outrageous wages & benefits" GM pays it workers isn't that big of an issue.

    Rattner makes slimey used-cars salesmen seem nicer volunteer workers at a hospital; he is very biased, let's not take anything he says, or the way he says it and implies, too seriously. But if we did................................

    "Today, those once-prized jobs pay just $23.48, a thin dime less than what a typical worker across the economy earns."

    So does GM want employees in the US or not, if GM merely pays an average wage; what is so outrageous about workers wanting more?

    Should a job at GM pay less than average?
    Record profits are great in the years they make them but overpaying for labor when the profits are not there is the biggest concern for them. If the UAW wants to last then they should focus more on improving profit sharing as opposed to permanent wage increases.
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    Bottom line is that all auto manufacturers would love to build everything in Mexico under cheap wages but how to get away with that and not look like, you know....

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    Re: Insider Opinion On GM-UAW Strike

    Quote Originally Posted by Clownzilla View Post
    I read recently that there is a $13 hr. total compensation gap (wages, retirement, insurance,etc.)
    In whose favor?
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    Re: Insider Opinion On GM-UAW Strike

    Quote Originally Posted by Neanderthal View Post
    In whose favor?
    GM pays $13 more. I have seen that figure in several articles recently. Here is an article from TIME that has those figures:

    https://time.com/5677938/united-auto...motors-strike/
    Last edited by Clownzilla; 09-24-2019 at 07:32 PM.
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    Re: Insider Opinion On GM-UAW Strike

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed753 View Post
    ... Rattner makes slimey used-cars salesmen seem nicer volunteer workers at a hospital; he is very biased, let's not take anything he says, or the way he says it and implies, too seriously. ...
    The guy is a sleezeball.

    One of the requests (demands?) of GM is to get to parity with the foreign transplants in the U.S. Anybody know how much we're talking about here? Is it that $13? If so, that's a chunk.
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