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Promises, Promises-A "Slave Labor Contract"
Source labornet@labornet.org
Date 09/05/02/21:55

Letter from Canadian UAW Retiree: Promises, Promises-A "Slave Labor Contract"
by Larry Christensen

This is how I view the Chrysler concessions (not to say, armed robbery):

As a Chrysler retiree, I look first at the VEBA. I recall that we retirees were assured in 2007 that it would last 80 years. Now we lose all dental and vision coverage as of July 1, 2009, and an independent expert says in the Free Press that the VEBA, our entire health coverage, will last only 6 years.

We are to be reassured by the fact that the VEBA will own 55% of the equity in Chrysler, an “equity” which Daimler has=2 0already written down to zero on its own books. Madoff would be proud.

It is an awesome thing to watch a Democratic Party president enforce such terms on us, while having unconditionally bailed out undeserving banks with $100 billion dollars.

My heart goes out to the active workers who already work at punishing speeds. Their relief time will be cut back. After two hours of work they will get 13 minutes break instead of 16; after another 1.5 hours another 13 minutes rather than 16. Their attendance procedure will be more strict. Their work methods and organization will have to match Toyota's. Their seniority right to bid on individual jobs is cancelled, replaced by only the right to change work teams. The dates of two of their vacation weeks will be dictated by the company. No overtime premiums will be paid until the 41st hour worked in a week – in other words, 12 hour days at straight time will soon prevail, especially for trades.

Not to mention the wage freeze through 2015 and the loss of all supplemental pay such as COLA, Christmas bonuses and productivity bonuses – all of which were themselves substitutes for what used to be, in the dim distant past, yearly 3 per cent base pay raises.

The two-tier wage structure is frozen regarding wages and widened regarding hiring. All workers hired through September 2015 will start at $14 and remain there at least until 2015. The company is also freed to use TPTs as they wish.

Workers under 20 years' seniority receive lesser and lesser steps of SUB pay. Options are reduced regarding right to decline distant job offers.

The company achieves its long-sought goal of completely collapsing skilled trades classifications into Electrical and Mechanical only.

Perhaps the item I most hate is that our right to decide on our own contracts is cancelled until September 2015. The 2011 contract will be decided by top-level negotiations and then if necessary by binding arbitration – where the arbitrator is already directed to take into account the labor costs of the non-union transplant car companies.

This is a slave labor contract. As the Canadian Chrysler workers said, the active workers must vote with “a cannon to our heads” thanks to government, banks, and corporate collusion, and thanks to a UAW leadership which leads us ever farther from the militant attitudes of those who successfully built our union. And our union was built in far more difficult days and circumstances.

Solidarity,
Larry Christensen
UAW Local 140, retired.

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