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UAW's Gettelfinger: VEBA was not cause of strikes, 'job security' an open item

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Gettelfinger: UAW was 'pushed over a cliff'
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Link to Original Article @ The Detroit News


DETROIT -- United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger said he expected to resume negotiations later today with General Motors Corp. to try to reach a contract agreement and end a strike called at 11 a.m.

"The company has indicated they want to meet, and we will be going back to the table today," Gettelfinger said at a news conference at the union's Solidarity House headquarters.

Earlier Monday, the UAW ordered its members off the job after setting a strike deadline Sunday night that passed without any agreement.

In his first public comments since contract negotiations began in July, Gettelfinger said union officials felt as early as Thursday evening that the prospects for an agreement were dimming, with GM appearing indifferent whether an accord was concluded by the deadline.

"The company walked right up to the deadline as if they really didn't care, and as a result of that, we called a strike."

Gettelfinger, surrounded by Cal Rapson, the UAW's top GM negotiator, and other members of the bargaining team, said the union was concerned about the automaker's financial well-being. "Obviously we're very concerned about this company. We've done a lot of things to help that company," he said, listing the health-care and other concessions agreed in the past two years by the UAW.

"We were disappointed in this round of negotiations to discover that it was a one-way set of negotiations -- it was going to be GM's way at the expense of the workers."

He said no one wanted a strike. "Who wins in a strike? But again, you can be pushed off a cliff and that's what happened here."

Gettelfinger said his objective now was to resume talks with GM. But, "as these negotiations progress, it has to be a two-way street."

Gettelfinger said the strike was not related to the effort to establish a VEBA, or Voluntary Employees' Beneficiary Association, a health-care trust that GM would fund and the UAW administer. A VEBA has been at the core of negotiations since the UAW sat down with GM on July 23.

"Job security is very important for us. Without going into the specifics, that is one of the open items," he said. He added that the open topics included investment, job-creation, the commitment of new models to plants and other economic issues that affect UAW members.

"I don't think our retirees have any reason for concern," he said.

As for active workers, "we'll reach a fair and equitable agreement for them."

Gettelfinger has often pointed to the enormous discrepancy between workers' and executive wages at the U.S. automakers. "It does seem odd to us that as much as workers do, they can't do enough, and as much as executives get, they can't get enough."

Doug Cramb, a 51-year-old welder at GM's Pontiac plant, leaned into a pick-up truck on the picket line to hear Gettelfinger speak. Cramb said he wasn't surprised to hear the union president reporting that GM was refusing to budge in negotiations on several key issues.

"It's all this posturing, to see who throws the first punch," he said.

He said that he and others picketing were fighting for workers rights throughout Michigan, since other companies may look to their contract to determine wages and benefits for their own workers.

"This isn't just for us and GM, it's for the whole state," Cramb said.

"If we start giving back everything, then, say, suppliers are going to start giving back to their employers," he said.
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"Job security is very important for us. Without going into the specifics, that is one of the open items," he said. He added that the open topics included investment, job-creation, the commitment of new models to plants and other economic issues that affect UAW members.

They don't get the fact that having people idle adds cost to the production of cars that need to be sold. How does ANY company provide "job security?"

Edited by ellives
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"Job security is very important for us. Without going into the specifics, that is one of the open items," he said. He added that the open topics included investment, job-creation, the commitment of new models to plants and other economic issues that affect UAW members.

They don't get the fact that having people idle adds cost to the production of cars that need to be sold. How does ANY company provide "job security?"

I'm sure GM doesnt want to send jobs overseas, but if it werent so expensive to do it here...

GM is looking for Cost stablity, UAW is looking for job security... if UAW took a hit, but employeed more people, then we'd have something to consider, but for the mean time... GM needs a reduction in expenses

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They have to realize that only the consumer can decide if a UAW worker has job security, and at the moment most are sayign F— the UAW, I'm buying a Camry.

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If I was working for GM right now, I'd be asking myself, my fellow workers and the local, "Is the UAW national leadership, really working to my benefit right now?" I don't think they have been given any answer at the moment.

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These people are complete idiots. To hell with all of them.

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"We're fighting for workers all over the state..."

That sentance says so much about the shortsightedness of the UAW.

GM's fighting for the workers all over the country... and those that have relied on GM for the past 40+ years... and whom are now collecting pensions

GM isnt that even conglomarte toyota sometimes to appear as... its also not a little fluffy bunny either, its goal is to make cars, at a profit, for everyone(this means having funds for R&D, marketing, and develop a good value within the product)... that means satisfying investors, consumers, executives, laborers, engeneers and sales consultants...

If GM was really the pig people made them out, they'd be cranking out 5 million vehicles a year out of china, and shipping them here without UAW...

GM is dedicated to its health as well as the health of america.

I hate to see how greedy people can be especially when they havent the slightest about whats at stake and what its costs are.

whats worse is UAW knows it, and they are still greedy

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