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What the auto workers gave up

Tom Jackson • Mar 23, 2010 at 6:26 PM

In late May, members of the United Auto Workers again agreed to concessions to help bankrupt GM get on its feet.

According to a letter to members of Congress from Alan Reuther, the UAW's legislative director, active UAW members made these concessions:

— Performance bonuses of 4 percent and 3 percent for 2009 and 2010 were axed.

— Cost of living adjustments were dumped for the rest of the contract.

— Holidays were cut.

— Overtime and relief time rules were scaled back.

— GM was allowed to hire part-time workers with lower pay and benefits.

— Certain job security programs were suspended, and supplemental unemployment benefits scaled back.

— Job classifications were cut and work rules were made more flexible.

Reuther also notes that "tens of thousands" of additional workers will lose their jobs because of the new round of GM plant closings.

Retired UAW workers from GM are taking hits to their medical coverage. Reimbursements for Medicare Part B were eliminated, prescription drug co-pays were hiked, dental and vision benefits were axed and premiums and deductibles were hiked for low-income retirees. In addition, much of the contributions for the trust fund for retiree health care will be from stock in the new GM, which may or may not turn out to be worth anything.

I'm not taking sides here on the debate over who's been treated worse by the federal government, secured creditors or the UAW. I also don't know whether Honda and Toyota's U.S. plants have a competitive advantage because they aren't organized by the UAW.

But I do know the list of the latest sacrifices by the UAW to help GM is worth recording. I've noticed that UAW workers, both active and retired, think they've been unfairly blamed for the problems in the domestic car industry.

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