Delegates from the United Auto Workers (UAW) will gather next week in Detroit, as the union works out its strategy to negotiate with domestic automakers for a new four-year contract. The current pact expires in September.

With auto sales firmly rebounding, the UAW is eager to win back the concessions it granted General Motors (GM), Ford Motor (F) and Chrysler over the past decade -- in an effort to help the Detroit Three better compete against increased overseas competition and combat eroding market share.

Wanting a Share of the Profits


The union's president, Bob King, elected last June, says union workers deserve a share of the profits from the car makers, now that industry is slowly recovering from the effects of the financial crisis and subsequent recession.

UAW members have given $7,000 to $30,000 each in concessions since 2005, King says. "All the sacrifices that our members made to turn these companies around were part of the process that's really led to this amazing turnaround," the union leader said in an interview earlier this year with Bloomberg News. "We want our membership to share in a very meaningful way in the upside of these companies."

This Year's Negotiations Will Be Different


Last year, both Ford and GM both posted their biggest profits in more than a decade.And though still unprofitable, Chrysler Group is on much stronger financial footing than it was just a few months ago.

Several factors, not the least of which are GM and Ford's new-found profitability, will make this year's negotiations different from previous years. For one, the Detroit Free Press notes, the union won't be negotiating nearly identical agreements with all three automakers.

Ford renegotiated contract modifications in 2009, as it sought to trim more than $500 million in annual costs. GM and Chrysler were also granted concessions as part of the companies' government-backed bankruptcies later that year. They included a clause that bars workers from striking over wages and benefits until 2015.

Union workers also agreed to a two-tier wage scale, that allows newly hired workers to paid about $14 an hour, or about half the amount earned by workers with more seniority.

King, 64, also has his sights set on organizing factories in Southern states run by foreign-based automakers, including Toyota Motor (TM) and Daimler, parent of Mercedes-Benz. The union president says he also expects to organize at least one non-union automaker this year.

Unions Back in the Public Spotlight

The UAW's three-day meeting, which begins on Tuesday, comes on the heels of weeks of protests by public-sector workers in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states, where Republican legislators have sought to limit collective-bargaining rights.

The lawmakers have argued the concessions are necessary to close budget shortfalls. But they have apparently lost the public relations battle, leading to more favorable views of union workers. Voters in Wisconsin, upset by efforts led by Gov. Scott Walker to strip state workers of their collective-bargaining rights, are gaining momentum in an effort to recall Walker along with some members of the state Assembly and Senate.

In Ohio, a recent poll showed voters backed state workers' right to collective bargaining, with 65% of them saying public-sector workers should keep the same rights they have now. The poll also showed that newly elected Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, wouldn't win a rematch against his Democratic opponent, Ted Strickland.

Rejecting 'Business as Usual'


The fallout from such much-publicized fights will likely embolden UAW members at next week's meeting to take stronger stands in winning back concessions from automakers -- and take a tougher stance with private and public employers.

For some, the effort has already begun.

"We must reject a 'business as usual' convention," union activists wrote in a recent letter to the UAW, "and use this important gathering to unite across every sector of our union in defense of our collective bargaining rights."


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mdmichel8888

solidarity forever

March 26 2011 at 2:38 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
inasctg56

Just reported by Daily Finance: "manufacturing sector posted its fastest expansion since 1984." All thanks to an administration who is workng with our manufacturing sector and trading partners negotiating better trade deals as the $45 billion new agreement with China. Also South Korea and now South America. For every 10% gain in exports, we gain 7% job growth. We have had 19 months of manufacturing gains and exports have had double digit gains. The dems policies work for american workers. The gop's works for corporations to make record proftis overseas. End of story. Or to use your own words "Piss on you".

March 19 2011 at 5:36 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
acktill

This is reason enough to buy a foreign car made by non union workers. Piss on obama and his union owners.

March 19 2011 at 9:56 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to acktill's comment
my name peggy

unions and obama have very little to do with each other. However once they are gone, wall street will be pissing on you just like they're doing now with checking account charges. if you like foreign autos, maybe you'd like to go back to the motherland and drive them there.

March 19 2011 at 6:58 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
gpfs

I am a small business owner and pay 58% on each additional dollar I earn. What that does is make not worth the risk to higher a new employee when the margin is so small. Even the IRS doesn't understand the tax code, not to mention they are what seven years behind in writing regulations! The code is far to complicated and costly to business. Close the loop holes, simplfy the code, so I don't need a tax attorney to help me decide whether or not to buy a new item for my business.

March 19 2011 at 1:55 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
inasctg56

The US corporate tax rate is not the highest in the world. It is about the middle. You do not take into account write offs in our tax codes and what they actually end up paying.

March 19 2011 at 1:49 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to inasctg56's comment
gpfs

It is the highest rate in the industrialized world! You and I pay it when we buy the product or service.

March 19 2011 at 1:51 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
inasctg56

reply to gpfs: Their employer is not the union. Workers fought for cost of living back in the 70's and the union negotiated it. All union officials come up thru the rank and file and the International presidents don't make much more than skilled workers. Unlike ceo's who can come in and reak havoc, make millions, and then leave.

March 19 2011 at 1:47 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
inasctg56

There isn't a person out there who wouldn't make concessions for their employer when they were hurting and when they got turned around would want some of those concessions returned, especially when ceo's are being rewarded.

March 19 2011 at 12:35 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to inasctg56's comment
gpfs

But their employer is their union!

March 19 2011 at 1:40 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
inasctg56

reply to mike: And I'm sure you're part of the same crowd that cheered when Chicago didn't get the olympics.

March 19 2011 at 12:32 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
inasctg56

reply to gpfs: And this is a big part of what has led to our downfall - thinking that only little people pay taxes. You can't cut wages and expect the tax burden to fall on just average joe's. There's major infrastructure built to accommodate corporations and businesses and yet you believe they shouldn't have to pay their share and yet get to walk away with record profits - which is just what they've done. What you support eliminates demand and therefore in the end business doesn't win. It doesn't work and has been proven not to work.

March 19 2011 at 12:31 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to inasctg56's comment
gpfs

The U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate in the WORLD. That plus the regulatory burden forces corporations to off-shore. Every tax payor should be paying some income taxes, people need fiscal attachment to what government is spending their money on. The top 5% pay 70% all the income taxes and 47% of taxpayers pay NO income taxes at all, that is wrong. So many complain about the recent tax extension and the associated cost of $700B for the upper income taxpayors, but make no mention of the $2.3 TRILLION cost to the rest of the taxpayors. I support the Deficit Commission recommendation, with one exception, they propose three tax brackets, I propose a fourth at $750k. The bottom line is, this country is in a crash dive unless we get the revenue and expenditures in line!!!

March 19 2011 at 1:35 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
gpfs

I never said they should not pay their fair share, I said, they don't pay anything, that it was a cost of doing business, as such is passed on to the consumer, you!

March 19 2011 at 1:37 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
gpfs

Corporations do not pay taxes, it is a cost of doing business and passed on to the buyer of their product or service. They therefore, locate to those states that offer tax and wage advantages in order to compete. You can holler till the cow comes home, but you buy the best priced product, that is exactly what Corporate American is trying to do. Look at California, companies are running from them, to Texas and other states that offer advantages for them. Chrysler owned by the UAW, is building a new plant in MEXICO, how is the UAW selling that to it's members?

March 18 2011 at 11:13 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply