Wage battle to save bearings factory

Jun 15, 2013

Excerpt: If there is an effort to save the KBI bearings plant from being driven out of business, then it's a quiet gathering working below the radar. We're not sure a strategy without publicity can work and we're troubled by concerns workers and  retired employees of the former New Departure factory shared after a labor contract was signed earlier this month. They said they feared this contract could be the last one at the factory that for generations was the No. 1 employer in the region. 

The auto industry dominated the local economy for six decades, but as the plant at Perkins and Hayes avenues potentially winds down, with wages now considerably lower than in years past and a work force considerably diminished in number, there is no fanfare and no effort we can discern to save it from extinction. 

New Departure was a General Motors property before it was Delphi and before it was KBI, but it's fate was perhaps sealed when GM shed it and the previous contracts and Delphi bankruptcy hog-tied its future. 

Plant workers clock-in and clock-out every day without any job security  It appears now the clock might be ticking away to the final days for KBI workers and their families. The employees and retirees said they fear  the new contract — which primarily extends the wage agreements forged in courts over the years — will be the last one. The contact expires Sept. 14, 2015.  

We'd like to see a coalition of leaders — including U.S. senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur — develop a strategy to wage a very public campaign to preserve this factory. That same team might also examine what needs to be done to secure a long-term agreement to keep Ventra Sandusky, the former Ford plant on Tiffin Avenue. 

The jobs at KBI and Ventra are important to our local economy. Losing one or either of these factories will be a major blow to our communities and school districts, and it would create a hole in the economy and a void in opportunities and the way life has been lived in this area for more than 60 years. 

This is a battle that should be waged.


Yellow Snow

Thanks, Sam, for your comforting words.
The cost of wages/benefits has always been built into the price of products and services. Both your job and mine. The larger impact has been having to absorb unemployed and uninsured. And we know where that has gone for quite a few years now. Both your taxes and mine, both your purchases and mine, fund those who aren't working and don't have insurance. In a lot of ways it all goes full circle.


While I extend sympathies to you on the passing of your husband, but the cost of your insurance through the union contract is passed on to everybody that buys a car. Who do you think paid for it? The union? That's a joke. The legacy costs are what buried the auto industry, and your life insurance and health insurance and pension are part of the legacy costs. Not your fault, but don't think we don't pay for it and pay for it and pay for it and will continue to pay for it until all the covered retirees are gone.



You must still be thinking back to the 1980s

Here is some Forbes information for you from 2008. Additional concessions in 2009.

12/05/2008 @ 6:00AM If GM Collapses, Don't Blame The Union
Unionized autoworkers are a favorite scapegoat for the problems facing U.S. automakers. Their job security guarantees and gold-plated benefits have surely cost General Motors , Ford Motor and Chrysler a bundle over the past few decades. Indeed, the domestics’ historically high labor costs are among the reasons they haven’t been able to compete with Japanese rivals, and why Detroit CEOs were back on Capitol Hill again Thursday asking for $34 billion in taxpayer loans to survive.

But the U.S. automakers probably would have collapsed by now if not for the concessions made by the United Auto Workers union over the past three years.

Once bitter enemies, the Detroit Three and the UAW have long since buried the hatchet and are now working together to close the wage gap with Toyota , Nissan and Honda through various productivity improvements and more flexible work rules, for instance.

The union has made some major concessions. Two biggies last year: The UAW agreed to cap the cost of retiree health care through creation of an independent trust fund and agreed to cut wages in half, to $14 an hour, for new hires in non-assembly jobs (20% of the workforce). More concessions came this week when the union agreed to end a controversial “jobs bank” program, which pays workers even when there are no vehicles to build. The union also said it would allow car makers to extend their scheduled payments to the health care trust fund. Importantly, UAW President Ronald Gettelfinger also said the union is ready to renegotiate additional contract terms.


Re: "Once bitter enemies, the Detroit Three and the UAW have long since buried the hatchet,"



Ford Motor Co is posting record sales. The average Ford UAW worker received an $8,000.00 PROFIT SHARING check. The Union doesn't seem to be hurting Ford one bit!!


Re: "The Union doesn't seem to be hurting Ford one bit!!"

An anomaly.

Meanwhile, the City of Detroit is defaulting on it's outstanding debt and paying 10 cents on the dollar.


What the unions and Democratic leadership did for Detroit, it can CERTAINLY do for the entire U.S.


How in the world can you associate Detroit's poor government leadership and the auto industry with the downfall of the City of Detroit?


Re: "auto industry"

Read it AGAIN. I WROTE: "UNIONS." THAT includes BOTH public & private.


It should also be noted that Ford is the ONLY major automotive manufacturer that declined to participate in Barry's Bailout...


Bush gave GM and Chrysler the first bailout!!!


You need to dig a little deeper my friend. Do you know what the union content or cost per vehicle is at Ford? Less than 15% which is one third of what it used to be. Between outsourcing, two tier wages systems, robotics and other manufacturing process improvements, the UAW's role at Ford is much reduced and those reductions will continue. Just like weeding a garden. Notice, Ford, unlike Govt Motors and Crysler, didn't go running to Obama for a bailout. GM still owes the taxpayers $30 billion in terms of the stock we taxpayers still own.


I remember standing in jarmin field behind our house watching carter get out of a helicopter waving and smiling, all of us holding signs that read "re-elect carter the best president panama ever had!" generations of americans lost their jobs and homes when carter signed over the canal zone. American jobs have been disappearing for a long time and not just on our soil.

R U Kidding me

If you are at the point of relying on politicians to help save something you have hit rock bottom take your loses and move on.

AJ Oliver

U.S. corporate taxes are very low - due to big loopholes.
Panama Treaty had nothing to do with US jobs.
What we have going on is a concerted assault on the middle and working classes - the one percenters are laughing because they have turned us against each other.
NAFTA, FTAA & other trade deals are made at our expense. US workers have to compete with Mexican, Chinese and other workers who are forced to work at the point of a gun - and our govt often even supplies the guns. Watch out for that new Asia trade deal - it's really dangerous - being written in secret by corporate lobbyists.


Re: "U.S. corporate taxes are very low - due to big loopholes."

Highest marginal corp. tax rate IN THE WORLD.

Corps spend BILLIONS of dollars in attorney and accountant fees to comb through the byzantine U.S. tax code in order to secure the lowest real tax rate - waste of $.

Excessive regulation and tax compliance cost the U.S. economy trillions annually in lost productivity (GDP).

Expensive d*mn "loopholes."

The Big Dog's back

Same old worn out slogans. Even a lot on the right realize taxes and regulations haven't hurt Big Corporations one bit. Time for you to bet on another horse.


^^^ "bullspit."


Re: "US workers have to compete with Mexican, Chinese and other workers who are forced to work at the point of a gun,"

Not to worry, our central bank (Federal Resv) is hurtin' 'em good!

"It has been widely noted that the U.S. stock market has moved up in tandem with the expansion of the Fed's balance sheet, with new highs being set in May as the central bank bought Treasury and agency mortgage-backed securities at a $1 trillion annual rate."

" ALL OF WHICH HAS CREATED a great, sucking sound out of emerging markets, evidenced by the declines in their stocks, bonds, and currencies."


The Big Dog's back

You just contradicted your previous paragraph.


^^^ “Still don't know what that means yet huh?” - The Big Dog's back, 5/27/13 :-7


I'm not sure I agree with corporate taxes being low, but I agree with your comment:

Watch out for that new Asia trade deal - it's really dangerous - being written in secret by corporate lobbyists.

It reminds me of the formation of the Federal Reserve, Congress did not write the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, the bankers did and look where this has got us. If you have not read The Creature from Jekyll Island, I suggest you do, it tells the dirty little secret the banks don't want you to know.


so all of the americans working in the canal zone who lost their jobs and had to leave to find work don't exist?


Make sure you vote Yes for that new school levy! Oh sorry, Permanent Improvement Levy!


I knew my previous post would raise some hackles. I didn't say the democrats were any better. The whole government is controlled by the corporations. I agree with AJ


Re: "The whole government is controlled by the corporations."

More like the converse: Corps are govt. controlled, i.e. fascism or crony capitalism.

Ya might wanna read some business news and read how govt. agencies, i.e. EPA, SEC, et al. are fining and suing corps. to the tune of billions of dollars annually.

Why would the corps be suing themselves?

The Big Dog's back



Re: "Bullspit."

“Same old worn out slogans.” - The Big Dog's back, 6/16/13 :-7


Will learning to speak Chinese help us out?

bored reader

If speaking Chinese doesn't help, perhaps declaring yourself to be a muslim/islamic extremist would be beneficial. They seem to be getting their way in the US>


As long as American's go to Wal-Mart to buy products made in China, we will never recover. It is very hard to look and look for products made in the USA, but that is what we need to do. Even some of our food is coming from foreign countries. I can see bananas and such, but come on,,,we can grow most of our own fruits and vegetables, along with our meats.