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UAW GM strike settlement reached

The strike may be over, Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin report for the Associated Press:

The United Auto Workers and General Motors Corp. said Wednesday they have reached a tentative contract agreement that ends a two-day nationwide strike immediately.

A person briefed on the contract told The Associated Press earlier that the historic agreement would shift the burden of retiree health care from GM to the union and give workers bonuses and lump-sum payments. The person requested anonymity because the contract talks are private.

The union said the deal was reached shortly after 3 a.m.

The whole story is at the above link.


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Comments (28)

I smell a big union push fo... (Below threshold)

I smell a big union push for gov't healthcare coming up...

Or do these guys know something?

Considering plans like Hill... (Below threshold)

Considering plans like Hillary's require most already providing Health Insurance to continue providing it, I doubt any special knowledge by the UAW would matter.

I expected this to only go ... (Below threshold)

I expected this to only go a few days. Primarily because this is a huge deal. It affects GM in a huge financial way and affects the lives of the UAW workers. The negotiators from both sides have to make a good show of it and say they took their positions to the wall and got the best deal possible. Anything less than a strike would leave both sides open to future criticism.

I await the academic study ... (Below threshold)

I await the academic study which shows that unionizing drives jobs overseas.

I find myself very irritate... (Below threshold)

I find myself very irritated when I see union workers -- particularly government employees -- driving foreign cars. Shouldn't union workers strive to support one another or is it every man for himself?

I thought that this strike ... (Below threshold)
Edward Ruzumna:

I thought that this strike was about job security?

Didn't have to cross a pick... (Below threshold)

Didn't have to cross a picket line this morning to get to work. Not that is was too big a deal, pretty low key strike from what I saw.

Automobiles are one of my f... (Below threshold)

Automobiles are one of my favorite subjects. Here's my thoughts on the state of things over at GM:

What ails GM seems to ail the nation, to paraphrase an old quote in a new fashion. While the tentative GM deal is a wholly imperfect compromise for both sides, there will be serious future economic challenges for both GM and employees of GM in the future.

Even though GM has not shown a profit for at least two years, only in April of this year did GM CEO "Rick" Wagner take any small 25% pay cut. His total compensation in 2006 was $10.2, and Wagner made a huge salary increase from the previous GM who earned around $600,000 one of his fist priorities as new CEO. Many American CEOs are only concerned how big of a salary that they can draw from a company unlike many Japanese CEOs who are more concerned about the financial health of the company that they work for.

And GM has spent up to $1 billion on mostly wasted projects to develop fuel cell automobiles when serious cost and technological problems make these type of automobiles not very viable for the near future. Toyota instead has concentrated on the viable hybrid technology automobiles which have been very successful for Toyota. Fuel cell technology is interesting, but the sensitive membranes can be destroyed by cold weather and these cars would cost about $80,000 each due to current technology limitations. Chrysler once wasted a lot of funds on a turbine engine program, which led to most of the cars eventually being crushed down. Some technology may not be viable or bhas sharp limitations. Toyota is at least going with viable technology and actually producing and selling hybrid cars unlike GM's fuel cell project where there is little to show but a few ultraexpensive prototype models. An absurd new GM ad even features new technology electric cars like the Volt and the fuel cell cars, noting that they are not for sale with a disclaimer. Toyota is at least offering cars they have for sale.

For the workers of GM, it will be continued years of wage or benefit givebacks, and eventually GM is likely to build most cars in Canada, Mexico or China, wherever labor costs are cheaper. By comparison some companies like the German BMW build many cars in the U.S. because their labor costs are so much cheaper than in Germany. And Toyota and Hyundai have both proven that you can build most of their cars in the U.S., paying American wages and make good profits, but GM's CEO Rick Wagner claims it cannot be done.

They say a fish rots from the head down, and many of the problems over at GM start with the management of the corporation. GM simply is not managed as well as Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and many successful competitors. These management problems rather than their products or labor costs continue to make this company a failure in the American marketplace.

American consumers also should take a little blame as well. Most Americans continue to insist on buying big cars or SUVs when smaller very economical alternative vehicles certainly exist. My Chinese made Taizhou ChuanL Motorcycle Company built motor scooter gets 94mpg and has great acceleration and can go up to 45mph, plenty fast enough for city travel. ChuanL builds motorcycles up to 90mph if you need more speed. I have no problems bringing back two big bags of groceries with the two trunks or a fieldpack with it. On wet or cold days I can always drive the big 16mpg GM built Oldsmobile and get just 1/5 the mileage of the Chinese motor scooter. I paid a little over $700 wholesale for the motor scooter and had to assemble it myself from a shipping pallet from China to save money. In volume, I could buy these for a little over $500 each. Many Americans pay way more than $20,000 for an assembled automobile plus far higher fuel costs. Even parts for the motor scooter are real cheap, with some $4 replacement parts. I don't know of any $4 GM replacement part. When the electric window motors break, it's always plenty of money for the parts.

Likely GM and Ford will continue to have future problems while Toyota, Honda and Hyundai continue to show healthy sales and profits. The problems for American companies will likely only continue.

I'd like to see Hooson buy ... (Below threshold)

I'd like to see Hooson buy an Oldsmobile that gets 16 MPG. Or any kind of mileage. GM stopped making them in 2004.

And how is the union situation in China?


These management problem... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

These management problems rather than their products or labor costs continue to make this company a failure in the American marketplace.

Yep. An often crappy product and bloated wages & bennies has absolutely no affect on the company's failure. Sure.

Jay, I'm actually a huge fa... (Below threshold)

Jay, I'm actually a huge fan of AMC cars and had a 9mpg Gremlin with a V8 stuffed in that I drove for 254,000 miles because it was so much fun. I owned a gas hungry Pontiac Firebird and drove a restored 1967 Mustang convertible for a while as well. I actually like high performance American cars, but AMC and Studebaker cars are some of my favorites. I just don't like the new cars as much as motorcycles and motor scooters these days.

One Gremlin with a V8 I had with a hood scoop and radical gears on it and nearly broke your neck with the acceleration. The feeling of horrific G-force was a lot of fun. It felt just like a 390 under the hood.

But getting 9mpg gets expensive these days. Gas was only $2 a barrel in 1967 and topped $80 a barrel last week by comparison.

Honsoon:Chrysl... (Below threshold)


Chrysler once wasted a lot of funds on a turbine engine program, which led to most of the cars eventually being crushed down.

You're out to lunch as usual. Sure they had a turbine program. They even produced futuristic shows cars for Detroit's Autorama Show and many of the other shows around the county.

That program was for one thing and one thing only, to win the Indy 500.

They almost did, twice by large margins but were foiled by 20 cent parts failing in the late laps.

They were so dominate the sanctioning body effective outlawed them via a restriction on the waste gate.

Then the program died.

Well said, Paul Hooson</... (Below threshold)

Well said, Paul Hooson.

Marc, Chrysler intended to ... (Below threshold)

Marc, Chrysler intended to build at least 203 turbine automobiles for use by average Chrysler owners for a test of the new design. One driver in my neighborhood was given one to use in 1963. But 55 Italian designed Ghia body units were actually built. The engine ran at 45,700rpm, and had to be geared down for street use. All but six were crushed down to avoid import duties.

Extremely high gas consumption and exhaust temperatures were just some of the drawbacks to these experimental cars. The concept of using an aircraft engine adapted for automobile use died with the Chrysler turbine experiment. The last time was with the 1948 Tucker Torpedo which used a Franklin helicopter flat L6 engine mounted in the rear of the car. The rebuilt Cord transmissions used with the torquey Franklin engines were a last resort due to problems developing the Tuckermatic transmission.

Rather short lived strike w... (Below threshold)
Spurwing Plover:

Rather short lived strike wasnt it i wonder what deals the demacrats got out of it?

"I await the academic study... (Below threshold)
Chris G:

"I await the academic study which shows that unionizing drives jobs overseas."

It will get published the same week the columbia gets an ROTC program.

The bigger question is, what happens to the UAW once they drive all of the American auto manufacturers out of business?

Should be Columbia Universi... (Below threshold)
Chris G:

Should be Columbia University gets an ROTC program

"And how is the union situa... (Below threshold)

"And how is the union situation in China?"

About like homosexuals in Iran.

Rick Wagoner became CEO in ... (Below threshold)

Rick Wagoner became CEO in 2000. The problems GM has now began decades earlier.

Without the excessive built-in marginal costs added by the practice, favored by the Big Three beginning in the '70s, of buying off the unions with promises of future/retirees' benefits in lieu of (further) huge wage increases, GM and Ford might still have some of their disadvantages versus foreign makers, but would be able to sell cars for several thousand less each.

Blaming Rick Wagoner for that is like blaming Eli Manning for the Giants not winning the Super Bowl. If GM didn't want to pay him, someone else would.

On the earlier strike thread, I linked a picture from UnionFacts, the "new union label" - a "Factory Closed" sign. That's what happens when you butcher the goose who laid the golden eggs.

hooson:Marc, C... (Below threshold)


Marc, Chrysler intended to build at least 203 turbine automobiles for use by average Chrysler owners for a test of the new design. One driver in my neighborhood was given one to use in 1963.

Yeah, I bet you did.

203 is not a "turbine program", nor an indication they were ever intended to go into production, it's a public relations effort, nothing more.

Concept vehicles rarely go into production and you're full of beans.

Chrysler's Turbine Engine e... (Below threshold)

Chrysler's Turbine Engine effort was well above a concept car while GM's never made it out of the concept stage.

The History Channel had a nice rundown of the saga. I say "saga" since they messed with varying intensity for decades.

Sounds to me like the union... (Below threshold)

Sounds to me like the union realized they were shooting themselves in the foot with the strike and folded their own tent. Maybe some details will give us a better idea.

jpm100:The His... (Below threshold)


The History Channel had a nice rundown of the saga. I say "saga" since they messed with varying intensity for decades.

Yep, I've seen the show, it's OK but nothing like "living it." Detroit is my hometown, I was very much part of that history in real life. There were several of the 203 Chrysler turbines "jetting" around Detroit.

They were junk and nothing more than a exercise in public relations and floating ideas of the future to judge public reception and viability of those ideas. (GM's electric car is another example, they gave some to people to drive then pulled them back and crushed them all because they were junk and there never was a real effort to market a car like it. It was a public relations effort, nothing more.)

They were the "public face" on their real objective, winning the Indy 500.

I grew up in the Metro Area... (Below threshold)

I grew up in the Metro Area with my Father being a Chrysler employee, so I've picked up a thing or two as well. The Turbine engine was released in a limited fashion, but interest continued with it long after that run. It was a technology that if it offered any promise, they would have taken a more serious plunge. It was given reconsideration during the gas crunch of the 1970's since it was potential more efficient and easier to adapt to alternative fuels.

Unions once had their place... (Below threshold)

Unions once had their place and were needed, just like the civil rights leaders (no, not Jesse, but Martin). Once their jobs were done, they refused to go away or renew themselves. They are now the old drunk bar-fly sitting at the end of the bar, flirting with the other perverted old men and dreaming of the old days, back "when they was hot".

Marc, there was an original... (Below threshold)

Marc, there was an original intent to build 203 of Italian Ghia bodied Chrysler Turbines, but the program was scaled back to just 55 units that were largely given to buyers of new Chrysler products to test drive in a widescale market research project. Chrysler was of course the first major company to use both the automatic transmission and power steering, and Chrysler had hoped that the aircraft designed engine could be their next great advance in motoring.

My father bought one of those controversial new 1963 Plymouth Fury cars that year that had the compact full size car body that most buyers did not like, and sure wished he could have tested one of those Chrysler turbine cars when one would cruise up and down Fremont Street in Portland, Oregon that we lived on at the time. The Plymouth featured that push button automatic transmission feature.

The Chrysler turbine cars had an aircraft-like sound sort of like a giant vacuum cleaner, but heavily muffled by the massive flat exhaust system. The engine itself was somewhat ball-like in shape.

The 1963 Chrysler pace car for the Indy 500 was a normal convertible Chrysler 300. And of course the cars at Indy were those special sort of one driver race cars with the engine behind the seat and not your normal production cars. Parnelli Jones was the winner of the race that year.

Jim, one big problem for GM... (Below threshold)

Jim, one big problem for GM that predated Rick Waggoner was the very poor quality of many of the smaller GM cars such as the Corvair, Vega, Monza and some cheap imported products with Chevrolet name on them like the Luv pickup. Rust was also a problem in many of the older cars as well. GM had already lost hundreds of thousands of buyers to Toyota and Honda long before Waggoner came on board due to the terrible quality control at GM that continued for years.

Saturn was the first attempt by GM to start a division based on a quality product. But long before then, many buyers had soured on American cars due to bad experiences. And the pension problems only complicated the downfall in sales that GM has long suffered. Waggoner inherited a corporation on the decline and probably has done fairly well with what he has to work with I suppose, despite some real shortcomings in his management style and decisions.

As far as UnionFacts goes, they are a propaganda front run by superlobbyist Rick Berman who has played fast and loose with the facts before. Berman is quick to find faults with unions, yet it is management that has faced far more lawsuits and criminal actions for their business conduct than unions collectively have ever done. White collar criminals far outnumber any bad union officials by a huge margin. White collar crimes include compelling sex from female employees, embezzlement, knowingly hiding documents in defective products cases, and more actions. As civil race, age and sexual discrimination lawsuits are entirely another matter of concern as well.

One comment that I would li... (Below threshold)

One comment that I would like for the world to know,"Even though GM has not shown a profit for at least two years" - (by Hooson). That is total BS. Let me explain to everyone on how GM rates not showing a profit. Every year GM makes financial estimates on how much money that the company is going to make. Say this year GM estimates that they will make 4 billion dollars, when actually they only made a profit of 2 billion dollars. They turn around and report it as a loss of 2 billion dollars and make the world believe that they are in some huge financial trouble caused by health care and high wages. Especially stating that the main problem deals with retirees healt care. The majority of the retirees are over the age of 65 years old. With that in order for them to stay enrolled in the health care at GM they have to be enrolled in Medicare / Mediacaid. Which then makes GM healthcare their secondary healthcare. So it does not cost GM as much as what they really state for retirees. Also with the VEBA, before the new contract, the current GM hourly - union employee pays just over $4.00/hr goes towards healthcare costs. That's roughly $676.66 a month ($8,320.00 a year) if the employee only works 40 hours a week. For the 73,000 hourly employees at GM that is $607, 360,000 million dollars a year going towards healthcare. So how much does healtcare actually cost GM? Think about that. Also the cost of the co-pay to the Dr's and prescriptions has increased as well.

One other tidbit, Racetrac Gas stations have up signs hiring starting managers at $55,000 a year. That is just about what a GM worker recieves as his / her yearly wage as well. The GM worker has not recieved a wage increase in the last 2 years. Nor well he / she in the next 4 years. Just a "lump sum payment" which is highly taxed (28%-42%). I just wish people would wake the hell up and see the big "real" picture.






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