Speaking at the Automotive News World Congress on Wednesday, January 21, United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger said the union would make concessions to help General Motors meet the requirements of its federal bailout, but he did not anticipate that wage cuts would be part of that effort.
In exchange for $17.4 billion in federal aid, General Motors and Chrysler agreed to meet a number of conditions including seeking union concessions to bring their labor costs more in line with those of their Asian competition.
Gettelfinger pointed to concessions already take by the union like changes to the payments of retiree health care benefits in 2005 that removed some $18 billion in obligations for the Detroit Big Three and saving the companies more than $3 billion annually.
On the issue of wages, Gettelfinger argues that union paychecks are comparable to those of the competition when bonuses are figured into the equation. Workers at a Toyota facility in Georgetown, KY earned $30 an hour in 2007, an amount $2 above the hourly salary of a veteran Detroit 3 worker.
The union has until February 17 to outline the role it will play in meeting the loan package provisions. Gettelfinger made it clear that he does not expect the UAW to receive special treatment from the Obama administration even though the union campaigned aggressively for the President.