David Kirkpatrick

February 16, 2009

GM and the UAW

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:26 pm

I’ve been hard on General Motor’s hands-out, crocodile tears method of hoping to stay afloat, but now the ball is firmly in the court of the auto unions. If the UAW balks and refuses to play ball in these negotiations GM has the absolute right to blame the last straw on the unions.

From the link:

With its access to a government lifeline in the balance, General Motors was locked in intense negotiations on Monday with the United Automobile Workers over ways to cut its bills for retiree health care.

Both G.M. and its rival, Chrysler, are racing to file restructuring plans with the Treasury Department by Tuesday’s deadline. The companies must show progress in cutting long-term costs as a condition for keeping loans they have received from the federal government.

For G.M., the restructuring will be the largest in its 100-year history, the next step in justifying its $13.4-billion loan package from the federal government.

The plan will outline in great detail, as much as 900 pages, how G.M. will cut its work force, downsize its North American factories and reduce its brand lineup to four from eight.

But G.M.’s plan to shrink will not mean much without an agreement with the U.A.W.

On Monday, G.M. pressed union leaders in a meeting in Detroit for a deal on financing what was the centerpiece of the 2007 U.A.W. contract — a perpetual, G.M.-financed trust to cover health care for hundreds of thousands of retired hourly workers and their spouses.

December 23, 2008

If the UAW won’t deal let the Puny Two crater

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:55 pm

The US auto industry has a lot of problems and the UAW is right up there.

A line in the sand? More like an unemployment line.

From the link:

If General Motors (GM) and Chrysler executives want federal loans beyond the initial $17.4 billion provided by President Bush and the Treasury Dept. on Dec. 19, they will need to wring concessions from the United Auto Workers. And that means dealing with Ron Gettelfinger.

As became clear in mid-December, Gettelfinger, the 64-year-old union president, is no pushover. With the fate of an industry hanging in the balance, he refused to back down when Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) demanded that the UAW commit to cutting wages to secure a bailout of Detroit’s Big Three. Gettelfinger’s stance—critics call it intransigence—pushed a government rescue to the brink until the Bush Administration stepped in.

But even after the Administration released funds for GM and Chrysler, Gettelfinger bristled at the labor concessions that Treasury is insisting on. In response to the Administration’s demands for wage and benefits cuts, he said: “We are disappointed that he [Bush] has added unfair conditions singling out workers.” Gettlefinger even said he would go to the Obama Administration—which promises to be more labor-friendly—to work out a deal.

December 12, 2008

Is Ford the Big One?

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:26 pm

The Rust Belt bailout failed in the Senate. Looks like the union scuttled the deal. General Motors and Chrysler are prepping for bankruptcy.

From the link:

Last-ditch efforts to forge an agreement to rescue the U.S. automakers fell apart late Thursday, Dec. 11, when union officials refused fast and deep cuts in worker pay. The collapse created the real possibility that General Motors (GM) and Chrysler will face bankruptcy in a matter of weeks, unless the Treasury Dept. acts to prevent it.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor Thursday night that a refusal of the United Auto Workers, headed by Ron Gettelfinger, to agree to lower wages and benefits at parity with workers at Toyota (TM) and Honda (HMC) in the U.S. by a date certain in 2009 was the last sticking point preventing Republicans from supporting the bill.