The unions are what created the middle class. Yet, NAFTA created an environment where many of those good jobs went to other countries like Mexico and China. Once a manufacturing plant goes off-shore, it leaves behind a ghost town. Once again, it is time to lift everybody up into the middle class. Here is how.
Detroit used to be the manufacturing center for automobiles. Then, it became a mere shadow of itself. President Barack Obama saved the industry, but many of the manufacturers took the money and ran to other countries.
The problem was simple. Companies could hire workers in Mexico for about one-tenth of what they received in the U.S, because the currency value was so different.
In a cost-cutting Many businesses tied to the Big Three Automobile industries emptied out their plants of anyone over 30 years old and all the collective business knowledge.
Over 49,000 members of the United Auto Workers union walked of at midnight as contract talks broke down. They closed 33 manufacturing plants in nine states plus 22 parts distribution warehouses.
A Bedford, Indiana plant makes transmission castings and other parts at an aluminum castings factor. The employees were striking, too. Night shift employee Dave Green had already moved from a closed GM small-car manufacturing plant in Lordstown, Ohio and said:
‘If we don’t fight now, when are we going to fight? This is not about us. It’s about the future.’
Employee Patty Thomas said she did not have to picket, but she came out in support of those on the line. General Motors (GM) wants to close another plant, after taking Obama’s bail-out money.
She told The Associated Press that there was a rumor that GM might keep the factory open. The company would retool the plant to manufacture electric pickup trucks, but she was doubtful:
‘What are they going to take away? That’s the big issue.’
One tactic many companies have tried was to hire contract workers. That way, they avoid expensive benefits and unions. This began in the U.S. government and has reached across most organizations. Workers sacrificed the cost of living raises during GM’s fear of bankruptcy. Now, they have asked for that back.
The states with GM manufacturing plants include: Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Tennessee, and Texas.
Top UAW negotiator for GM, Vice President Terry Dittes, called the strike a “last resort.” The two sides could not get together to agree on a new four-year contract:
‘We clearly understand the hardship that it may cause. We are standing up for fair wages, we are standing up for affordable quality health care, we are standing up for our share of the profits.’
The employees last struck in 2007 for two days with little impact.
It wasn’t clear how long the walkout would last, with the union saying GM has budged little in months of talks while GM said it made substantial offers including higher wages and factory investments.
It’s the first national strike by the union since a two-day walkout in 2007 that had little impact on the company.
Striking GM employees were joined on the picket lines by workers from Ford and Fiat Chrysler, who are working under contract extensions.
Night shift workers at an aluminum castings factory in Bedford, Indiana, that makes transmission casings and other parts shut off their machines and headed for the exits, said Dave Green, a worker who transferred from the now-shuttered GM small-car factory in Lordstown, Ohio.
These were the primary points of disagreement between the unions and GM:
— GM made $8 billion last year. The average CEO makes $251 for every dollar a union member earns. The union wanted a pay raise.
— The union wanted four factories set to be closed to be retooled for other products.
— The companies want to in-country plants to make a more equivalent rate to other countries. GM employees make $63 an in wages and benefits, whereas, out-of-country plants pay $13 an hour. The company does not take into consideration the dramatically lower cost of living.
— Union members pay only three percent of the health insurance costs. Other U.S. corporation employees pay 34 percent on average. GM wanted to cust those costs.
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.
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