To: Detroit Workers' Voice mailing list
September 23, 2015
* Auto Workers Rage against Tentative Chrysler ContractAgreed to by
by Tim Hall, Detroit Workers' Voice
* What's in the Chrysler contract?
by Gary Wolkowicz, from the Bargaining Committee at Ford Dearborn Truck Plant
* Contract Lowlights,
by Autoworkers Caravan
The United Auto Workers leadership has agreed to a tentative contract with Fiat Chrysler of America that fails to solve the two-tier wage situation and proposes a ruinous health care package, and many Chrysler workers are outraged. Voting on the tentative contract is taking place later this week and into next week. Angry workers are posting large numbers of negative comments on such Facebook pages as "Show Your No Vote!"and are calling for protests at the union headquarters against the sell-out leadership. Workers, some from the Chrysler Jefferson Assembly Plant, picketed the UAW headquarters in Detroit this morning in protest of the contract. Workers are trying to mobilize a No vote to defeat this contract and get a better one.
The tentative contract has two gigantic flaws, along with many others. First, it fails to close the gap between the lower-tier workers, who make a little over half the wage for the same work as do the workers hired before October 29, 2007, when the Obama administration forced this deep concession on the workers as part of the auto bailout. The tentative contract contains raises for the lower-tier workers, but they will remain several dollars of hourly pay below the higher-paid at the end of this four-year pact. At the same time, the low-tier (called "tier 2") workers are divided into three categories and these, too, have different wage structures, so that the UAW, if this contract is passed, will actually have a four different low-wage tiers for unskilled laborers doing the same work as the workers hired before 2007.
This is an insulting offer to the low-tier workers, some of whom have labored alongside co-workers making almost double their pay for seven years. Four more years of inequality, even though modified, is a disgrace! The auto companies are rolling in record profits. Let them restore union pay equality, is the sentiment of large numbers of Chrysler workers, who voted 95% and more to authorize striking before the tentative language was revealed. That sentiment remains very high, as the picketing today proves.
In addition, other pay matters are arousing bitter opposition. COLA, which was removed in 2007, is not restored in the new contract. It has been one of the main ways auto workers have fought inflation to defend their real wages in the past. Also, the tentative contract contains small raises for Tier 1 workers, with bonuses down the road promised if certain production goals are reached. Tier 1 workers have not had a raise (or COLA) since 2007, so this paltry money is not causing any celebrations, and will likely be eaten up by a more costly health care system (see below). Plus, promises of bonuses depending on future performance can easily turn out to be fairy tales. And bonuses are not rolled into the pay structure but are here today, gone tomorrow. Additionally, there is no raise in pensions. Retired workers are seeing their pensions eaten up by inflation and increased health care expenses under the union-controlled VEBA health apparatus. This grievous situation has ominous implications for the new health care package proposed for current workers.
The second major flaw in the tentative Chrysler contract agreed to by the UAW leaders is a plan to take health care out of the hands of the company and put it in the hands of the union, as has been done with the VEBA created for retiree health care a few years back. This is disastrous and has caused great consternation among the workers. Management would be let completely off the hook for health care, and that is enough to condemn this proposal in the eyes of alert workers. Furthermore, the shape and form of this "cooperative" is not specified. It is either secret or not yet negotiated, but at any rate, the workers are not informed how their health care is to be handled. But they are asked to vote to accept this proposal, sight unseen. Incredible!
In other matters, attendance discipline, which is already inhumanly rigid, is tightened. There is no cap on hiring temporary workers to an even lower pay than the Tier 2 long-term workers. And the list goes on.
Even the bourgeois press acknowledges that the Chrysler workers are opposing this pact on a large scale. If the workers are able to vote it down, this will be a major blow to the wage-cutting efforts of the capitalists nation-wide. Two-tier (and more-tier) wage systems have burgeoned in union contracts all over the country since one was established in auto in 2007. The two major postal unions, the APWU and the NALC, representing the majority of postal workers, adopted multiple-tier systems beginning in 2011. In the case of the APWU the traitorous leadership imposed a three-tier system in spite of a unanimous vote against two-tiers at the 2010 National Convention. In current negotiations now headed for arbitration the new APWU leadership is not demanding an end to the three-tier system, so postal clerks seem saddled with three-tier in the near future.
If the Chrysler workers vote this sellout pact down, they will then be faced with the necessity of a hard struggle against the UAW leadership and management in order to force management to give up a better settlement. Any progress in this fight his will help the Ford and General Motors workers get better contracts. And this fight will help postal workers and workers in other industries, who face a long and difficult fight against the wage-cutting spree of the capitalist class.
by Tim Hall, Detroit Workers'
Voice, https://www.facebook.com/tim.hall.94695459 <>
Permanent 2-tier -- There are raises for 2nd-tier workers, but newly hired entry level could only progress to $22/hour over the next 4 years. Current entry level workers could progress up to $25.35, but no further, even if they have 10 years seniority at the end of the contract. There is still no pension for 2nd-tier. And there is no cap or limit on the number of 2nd-tier workers.
But the biggest problem is that the intention of this contract is to make 2-tier permanent. At the Chrysler Council meeting, UAW president Dennis Williams said that 2-tier is here to stay, it is not going away. As first tier workers retire, they will be replaced by new workers at a permanent lower tier. They want us to accept that the new generation of auto workers will work for less than their parents. I say we should not agree to anything that does not end 2-tier.
Small raises for first tier -- We have not had a raise since 2005, but they want to give workers 3% raises only in the 1st and 3rd years of the contract. There would be 4% lump sums in the 2nd and 4th years. The lump sums replace some guaranteed bonuses that were in the old contract. There is no COLA (cost-of-living).
After 10 years, this is what we get??? The auto companies have been making record profits. We need and deserve more and bigger raises.
Health care -- The agreement about the health care pool is left open to be settled after the contracts are done at all 3 companies. This is very dangerous, like signing a blank check. We could end up with health care choices being limited, benefits changed, or out-of-pocket costs being increased AFTER the contract is ratified. We need to have everything spelled out BEFORE we vote.
There is also language that workers will have their insurance changed or pay a deductible if their plan goes over the threshold for the "Cadillac"� tax. We should not be paying more for health care, period.
Pensions -- There is no increase in pensions for current and future retirees. How can retirees pay their bills when prices keep going up and our pensions don't? Especially since the VEBA means retirees are paying more out-of-pocket for their health care. Retirees need a raise, too.
Dennis Williams said the Ford and GM contracts will have more money than the Chrysler contract. In the past, differences between contracts were in the form of bonuses. But the basics of the contract (wages, health care, pensions) usually follow the same pattern. So the Chrysler contract tells us what they plan for Ford and GM.
I say we should not have to settle for a contract like the one at Chrysler. I say we should let them know that right now. Let me know if you agree.
By Gary Walkowicz, Bargaining Committeeman, Dearborn Truck
We were ready to fight for the things that matter to us. Weoverwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike and whether we supported the dues increase or not we are paying more money for one stated purpose -- to go up against the company with a stronger fighting fund. We were ready to make sacrifices to bring back the core union principle of equal pay for equal work. Instead Marchionne [CEO of Fiat Chrysler] has a "balanced" (yeah right) contract. Isn't it time to tip the scales in the favor of the workers who actually produce the vehicles?
By now you may have read the contract summary and maybe had a chance
to view the entire contract on line
Do you think it is "transformational?" Or is it just more of the same with some improvements here and there? Let's look at the facts:
1. We are stuck for two-tier for another four years. The 25% cap on the number of second-tier workers, which was supposed to go into effect at the end of the contract and bring a percentage of them up to top pay, has been trashed. Marchionne says he believes in Equal Pay for Equal Work -- but he thinks the legacy workers are too used to a "culture of entitlement." His plan is to keep a lid on second-tier pay and wait for the first-tier workers to go away. By the end of the contract, the pay gap between the lowest paid and the highest paid -- working side by side and doing the same work - will still range from $5-10 an hour. Most "in progression" -- because with no path to the top they are not "entry level" -- workers will not even reach top pay under this contract. This creates multiple tiers. FCA can hire all the Temporary Part-Timers (who make less than "in progression") it wants -- that's another tier. (summary p. 4) If you read the actual language you noticed that Parts and Axle workers have an even lower top rate. (contract p. 255-56) The inequality of benefits and pensions -- which also affected trades hired after October 2007 -- has not been rectified. (contract p. 259)
2) AWS isn't going anywhere. (contract p. 174) Saturdays for B and C crew will be at time-and-a-quarter instead of straight time. But how does that improve your family life, your social life or your health? It doesn't.
3) They'd like us to forget that Cost Of Living Allowance ever existed. Won in the 1950s, COLA was based on the just premise that our wages should keep up with inflation. That premise is treated as obsolete. Our real wages have fallen since our base rates were frozen and COLA was eliminated. Do they think we don't know who's pocketing the difference? Instead we get -- and this is a big maybe -- a bunch of bonuses that could amount to little or nothing if the targets aren't met. (summary p. 4) Our signing bonus is even less than four years ago. Did our leaders target Chrysler so we would accept less than what they can get at Ford and GM?
4) A $5.3 billion investment does not = more jobs -- on the contrary! Two-tier was justified by the argument that it would allow small car production to be brought back to this country. Now that wages have been pushed down they only want us to build the vehicles that generate maximum profit. And the most pollution. We need to stop building gas-guzzlers, that won't even sell if gas prices go back up. If all car production is moved out of the country, leaving us with just pickups and SUVs, wouldn't there likely be a net loss in the number of jobs? And the only thing this trumpeted investment will do is bring in the latest, greatest, leanest and meanest technology to pump out more vehicles with fewer workers.
5) Skilled trades consolidation is moving full steam ahead. There were some minor improvements made in 2014 to the current agreement, but not enough. Now they want to eliminate Welder Repair outside of Stamping -- where it will go away eventually as well. (summary p. 11) This is the very process that led the trades to vote NO in 2011!
6) Health care "co-op"? There are too many unanswered questions. How will this commitment to hold the line on costs affect our benefits? The contract allows "the parties" to substitute Blue Cross with "another carrier." The Highlights compare this plan to VEBA. Maybe it's not technically a VEBA, but have you talked to retirees about what co-pays are like under their VEBA? Any time details in the contract are left open to be "worked out in the future," watch out! (benefits exhibits p. 113) And the September 15 New York Times reports that "health co-ops are failing."
7) The attendance procedure still stinks. One day DLO after the third occurence, discharge after six. Tardies are separate but still, a DLO after three! Need we say more? (summary p. 13)
8) Retirees are getting a lousy car voucher. (summary p. 13) The $700 "COLA-correction" bonus has not been restored and there are not pension benefit increases for four years for current or future retirees.
These are some of the *lowlights*, being sold to us while FCA makes obscene profits and Sergio's pay is outrageous. If you think voting "no" is a waste, remember that in 2009 Ford workers successfully rejected contract modifications that were laden with concessions. Read the whole contract first and use your vote wisely.
by Autoworkers Caravan:
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Posted on September 25, 2015