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The last stand of United Automobile Workers



Forty-six thousand General Motors employees return to picket lines for the fifth day of a national strike like GM had not experienced since its bankruptcy by the government more than a decade ago.

The strike of the United Automobile Workers Union has not yet imposed a crippling economic cost. But if negotiations between the UAW and GM remain stagnant, both union members and the company will suffer.

GM and business-dependent international and local businesses are already beginning to feel the impact. At least one local trucking company has closed all but not closed its doors, according to Detroit News and GM Canada announced on Wednesday that it would temporarily fire 1

,200 employees at its plant in Ontario. GM is estimated to have lost between $ 50 million and $ 100 million in operating revenue on the first day of the strike.

However, workers with blue collars will bear the brunt of the pain. The strike pay is $ 250 a week for GM employees. Compare that to GM's highest salary of $ 30 an hour, or $ 1200 for a 40-hour week.

"Next week, whatever glitter starts to wear off, and the drugstore starts," Marick Masters, former director of labor studies at the University of Detroit-based Wayne, told the Detroit News. "People start to wonder, 'When do I get out of this? "

But has there ever been a" shine "to this strike? GM workers were called in by the UAW on the pretext that GM was not in the market. This is a fight for higher wages, more flexible hours, better health and safety at work. But this strike has nothing to do with GM's refusal to go to the negotiating table. If it was about the well-being of GM workers, the UAW would have accepted the proposal GM offered on Sunday night before Monday's walk.

The history of labor unions in the United States is usually told as a struggle between labor and capital. More astute observers notice many more cracks. Most importantly, the interests of union bosses are often not the same as the interests of the workers they seem to represent. In this case, the UAW has a less-than-hidden front motive to remain stubborn. Contracts with Ford and Fiat Chrysler may still arise. No one wants to show a hand before even negotiating. So the UAW knows that what may be the best deal for GM workers could weaken the union's advantage in other negotiations.

"Solidarity" thus becomes an excuse for union bosses to refuse the best deal for the GM workers they represent. It's like a sports agent negotiating a contract to negotiate with other clients. This is unethical.

There is another, even more sinister, motivation for UAW bosses that deserves scrutiny: creating a distraction from the legal issues that currently threaten to blow up their organization.

A current federal probe into UAW corruption has led to 10 indictments of top union officials. Several other officials, including UAW President Gary Jones, are still under investigation for possible abuse of power, using workers' fees for personal luxuries and strong-armed auto executives with shaken pieces and failures. The federal government appears to be targeting trade union leaders under federal racketeering laws. Is it any wonder that union members have so little confidence in the officials who have to represent and fight for them?

The UAW is desperately trying to dispel its scandal and get in power. And the best way to do this is to take a stroll right now, create the terms of the strike, and then use it all as a negotiation lever that the UAW would never be interested in otherwise.

It is only a matter of time before union members decide that they will be pawns in the game of this self-interested union.


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