5-Year Deal Between Nexteer, Union Easily Wins Approval

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Low-wage autoworkers reject rotten contract, walk out.

The United Auto Workers says the deal with Nexteer Automotive was approved by 61 per cent of workers who cast ballots. BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP, MI — Nexteer Automotive workers represented by UAW Local 699 in Saginaw County ratified a proposed five-year contract Friday, Dec. 18. “Our employees have ratified a new labor contract that establishes the principles upon which we will conduct our Saginaw manufacturing operations for the next four and a half years.

With this new agreement in place, all Nexteer employees continue to give their full attention to delivering advanced steering and driveline products to our customers. Meanwhile, anger mounted during the day as workers became aware of the fact that the contract was not complete, with 13 pages missing from the document distributed by the UAW. The strike began after workers at the plant, in Buena Vista, Mich., voted a whopping 3,103 to 80 against a new contract that maintained a multitier pay scale and kept everyone’s wages low while increasing worker health care costs. Nexteer is committed to continue to work diligently to optimize our global cost structure, continue to grow our customer base and strengthen our technology leadership in the global automotive market.” Burzynski said highlights of the proposed tentative agreement were given to the membership Friday, Dec. 11. Many workers told the World Socialist Web Site that they felt they had been duped into voting on the ratification of a document that had not even been finalized.

In the face of the near rebellion by workers, the UAW called a bogus 20-hour strike and shut it down before it halted production at several GM plants. The company’s annual payroll is more than $290 million, Crary said, and Nexteer paid $1.279 million in real and personal property taxes in 2015 and $1.835 million in 2014. Nexteer has more than 50 global customers, including BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, GM, Toyota and PSA Peugeot Citroën, as well as automakers in India, China and South America. The plant, where workers make steering components, was originally part of General Motors and then became a Delphi plant when GM spun off its parts division. The union and the company reached their first tentative agreement earlier this month, but members on Dec. 6 rejected the proposed contract by a landslide.

GM then took the plant back from Delphi but the workers were not brought under the UAW-GM master contract; wages were kept below what most GM workers make. Then, to allow the plant to be bought by Nexteer and avoid a plant closing, the UAW agreed to let Nexteer cut wages again and have an even lower wage for future hires. “We’re making history right now. It imposes an inferior health care plan while stipulating a long of list of infractions for which workers can face discipline, all while Nexteer is earning record profits.

Other differences include a $2,000 signing bonus, up from $1,500, employees being able to defer holidays into the next calendar year and changes in vacation or relief time from the previous contract. In order to browbeat workers into ratifying this second sellout, UAW officials went around the plant warning workers that the facility would likely close if workers again voted down the contract. Voting took place over two days following two days of informational meetings, a stark contrast to the one-day voting period and rollout for the first contract. These scare tactics were backed up by management personnel, who threatened disciplinary action against workers caught discussing the contract on company time. One Nexteer worker told the WSWS, “People who voted yesterday said they wouldn’t have voted the way they did because the union is adding stuff to the contract.

How can we vote when we don’t know what we are voting on? “One bargaining committee member wanted to sign a memorandum of understanding to impose the Alternative Work Schedule on the whole worksite.” The AWS allows the company to schedule staggered 10-hour shifts without payment of overtime after eight hours or on Saturdays. “They are trying to write MOUs on a contract that is not ratified! Whichever way the vote goes, this strike — which follows the resistance to two-tier contracts at Ford, GM and Fiat Chrysler and a monthlong UAW strike against two-tier at Kohler — demonstrates that autoworkers are part of the global resistance to the low wages that have fueled the recovery for the capitalists. Nexteer is just a front.” The deal does not restore the concessions given up by workers in 2010 when the UAW and GM imposed wage cuts of 40 percent, claiming they would be restored after a new buyer, Beijing-based Pacific Century Motors, got on its feet and became profitable. The new deal also sanctions a dictatorial regime in the factories, with supervisors given a green light to suspend or fire workers on the flimsiest grounds or banish them to the worst shifts. Anything going on with management the union tells us, ‘do as they say.’” He continued, “We do all this work for GM, but they claim that GM has nothing to do with Nexteer.

We don’t make enough money to even buy their vehicles.” A Nexteer retiree added, “It’s about what the company wants, not what the people want. How can you work for a major company, and not earn enough to live?” He said his nephew was a tier-two worker at Nexteer. “People want a quality lifestyle. They look at an autoworker driving a Cadillac and say, ‘he can’t have that; he’s an autoworker.’ “The union went right along with all these plans. You can’t take a day off work or you fall behind.” “The UAW says this is the best contract we can get, they’re going to close the shop, blah, blah,” a young worker said. “Nexteer pays $12 an hour. How do you pay your rent on that? “This company is making tons of money, especially with the electronic power steering replacing the hydraulic system.

They are paying managers $10,000 production bonuses but telling us we didn’t hit our quotas. “You got minimum wage workers in there employed by a temp agency to check parts and do the same work we do. With the wages they’ve negotiated for us it’s like the UAW is operating its own cheap labor temp service—it’s crooked as hell. “When the unions were first built the principle was ‘equal pay for equal work.’ The two-tier system is ridiculous.

In nearby Flint, the birthplace of the UAW during the sit-down strikes of the 1930s, GM employment has fallen from a 1978 high of 80,000 to under 8,000 by 2010. The city is currently under a state of emergency due to high levels of lead in the water after years of tax cuts to GM have left Flint’s infrastructure in a state of disrepair. “I’m making less now than when I was hired in,” a skilled worker said. “There are people who can’t make their house payment or a pay for their car to get to work. The UAW promotes the Democrats, but they are taking down the middle class just like the Republicans. “I know a skilled tradesman with 10 years whose children qualify for reduced lunches because he doesn’t earn enough. The Democrats and Republicans are all one party.” Hundreds of workers took copies of the Autoworker Newsletter from campaigners as they arrived to vote.

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