UAW-Nexteer deal ratified by union members

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.

The ratification comes less than two weeks after 97 percent of the membership rejected a first deal and went on a 20-hour strike that caused General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV to cancel shifts due to parts shortages. 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. 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. Major changes between the two agreements included a $500 increase in signing bonus to $2,000, increased hourly wages, no-cost health care, additional clarity in language, better pay for forced overtime and several non-economic changes.

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. The latest deal includes a general wage increase of at least $1 per hour over the current rate for production workers upon ratification, with retroactive pay back to Sept. 15.

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!

The rejected deal, according to Nexteer, included $300 million in new business, health insurance with no employee contributions, hiring of 300-plus temporary workers immediately and more than $50 million in new wages. The groundwork for Nexteer’s survival and its sale to Pacific Century Motors was laid in a pivotal labor agreement in 2010, the last ratified by the local union. 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.

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