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Auto Workers Union Issues Warning

United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger is concerned about a domino effect in the U.S. auto industry.

"Our fear is if one of these companies goes down it’s almost a certainty that two if not all three would go," he told reporters in a conference call today.

General Motors, Ford and Chrysler need federal aid before President-elect Obama takes office, Gettelfinger said.

“We have to move sooner, rather than later,” he said.

Yesterday, the White House proposed broadening the terms of a $25 billion loan package, intended to boost production of energy-efficient vehicles, to get money to Detroit.

Gettelfinger said he did not want to change the terms of the advanced technology loan, and stressed that any assistance would be in the form of “loan, not a bailout."

The UAW president also sought to turn around the blame game.

"We're here not because of what the auto industry has done," he said. "We're here because of what happened in economy.

Among its members, the UAW is pushing a campaign to pressure lawmakers for aid. Gettelfinger said workers made enough concessions in last year's bargaining agreement and will not make any more.

"You have probably seen or heard some commentators who are trying to blame you and your fellow UAW members for the current situation of the companies by attacking our 'overly rich' wages and benefits," said the union in a e-mail. "We need to rebut these false charges, and make it clear that active and retired UAW members have already made enormous sacrifices in the 2005 and 2007 collective bargaining agreements."

Detroit's auto companies have also been bolstering their pitches to convince the public and Congress members that federal aid is vital.

GM commissioned a poll that found that 55 percent of Americans believe the government should provide loans to domestic automakers. Peter D. Hart Research Associates surveyed 804 Americans and released the results Friday.

GM also launched a Web site called “GM Facts and Fiction” about the auto industry crisis, with links for public to mail form letters supporting federal assistance to their lawmakers.

Chrysler has created a short video to make its case, encouraging viewers to repost it to their own Web sites. Showing shots of assembly line workers and dealerships, the video proclaims 4.5 million jobs are at stake — the equivalent of putting the entire populations of South Carolina, Kentucky or Louisiana out of work.

“Chrysler is asking citizens to contact their U.S. Senators and Representatives, urging them to support federal assistance for the domestic auto industry,” says the company's blog.

--Kendra Marr

By Terri Rupar  |  November 15, 2008; 1:43 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  
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Comments

It's time for the UAW to suck it up and get real. Heathe Insurance with no deductible or copay? P-L-E-A-S-E. $75.00 /hour for compesation for each UAW worker? Comapare the to $42.00 /hr for employees of US workers at Japanese plants in the US. False charges and enormous sacrifices??..by whose standars...certainly not those of other industry workers now drawing unemployment. The UAW's time has come and is now gone in light of the truely global econonmy we are a part of. A complete restruction of the US auot industry has proven to be long overdue. Bankruptcy reorgainization Yes !! Businees as usual NO!!!

Posted by: Red4ever | November 15, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

What a steaming pile. The US car makers destroyed themselves. "The economy" did not destroy Toyota or my favorite, Subaru. So how was that "the economy" picked on the losers? It didn't.

What, you dopes thought no one would care about global warming and ever higher gas prices? How about cars that last a really long time?

US car makers have not been competitive for decades, measured by relentless loss of market share.

So go away now.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 15, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Red4ever,

How did you achieve that $75.00/hr number? Where did you get those numbers? They seem very high to me, but maybe you know something that others don't.

Posted by: ericattia | November 15, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

It's too bad GM stopped making the EV1 all electric car that they produced in the late 90's. In fact, all major car companies had an electric car in production during the late 90's. They would have been making huge profits over the last few years if they hadn't killed it.

Posted by: chrisdunning1 | November 15, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Interesting article appearing in NYTs today reporting an attempt by Mayor Bloomberg to promote "greener" taxi fleets.

Posted by: truthhurts | November 15, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I'd guess that the $75/hr number, if indeed it is accurate, includes wages, the employer's share of social security taxes, and the cost of all benefits per employee per hour.

Posted by: officermancuso | November 15, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

We must not as a nation forget the role the high cost of our dependence on foreign fuel played in the demise of our automakers. The exorbitant cost of gas the past year has done serious damage to our economy and society. We need to take lessons from our mistakes.WE also need to get out from under the grip our dependence on fore gin oil has on us. Why not take some of these billions and invest in America becoming energy independent. Driving an electric car would cost the equivalent of 60 cents a gallon. The electricity could be generated by solar or wind power. Green technology would create millions of badly needed new jobs. What America needs is a green revolution. It is time for us to move forward with alternative energy. I just read Jeff Wilson's new book The Manhattan Project of 2009. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is concerned about the downward spiral of our economy and it's effect on our society and would like to see our country become energy independent!


Posted by: BeyondGreen | November 15, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I have been driving domestic cars all my life. My next car will be a fuel cell car. If US car makers make it available in late 2009, then I will continue to buy domestic cars. If not, I am switching to Japanese cars. Forever.

Posted by: Dave27 | November 15, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

The auto makers didn't have the foresight to set aside short term larger profits from huge SUV's and trucks they hyped in their ads when they should have been selling and developing fuel efficient hybrids and electric cars. We all saw this coming in the Carter administration. A huge part of our reliance on foreign oil has been because we burned it in millions of these unnecessary gas guzzlers. government shares the blame for not forcing higher fuel mileage standards starting a couple of decades ago as well. I'll drive my fuel efficient foreign car and shake my head. No bucks from the government until they change the paradigm for how they do business.

Posted by: lawdawgs1 | November 15, 2008 7:23 PM | Report abuse

The economy? Hilarious! The US auto companies have been on the downhill run for years. They have had at least 30 years to read the handwriting on the wall. They continued to make gas guzzling cars that cost as much as a house while Japan and other foreign countries gained ground with cars that people wanted.
Excuse me, while I look out the window at my car that gets 32 MPG on the highway and cost under $20,000.
Made in Japan, of course.

Posted by: wly34 | November 15, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Yeah... auto workers make WAY too much money. If they, and every other working person in America would just "suck it up" and accept Mexican level wages, all of our problems would just go away. You see, that's the problem; everybody in America gets paid far too much (except for our corporate executives... they do such a wonderful job of managing American businesses that they deserve huge salary increases).

Yep, regular Americans are WAY over paid. We all need to give some of our paychecks back to the CEOs and big stockholders who have been doing such a flat-out fabulous job of growing our economy. Tell you what, though... I am a little weak in the "self-sacrifice for the poor rich man" department... why don't we start with YOU sending some of your paychecks to General Motors corporate headquarters?

Posted by: Geezle | November 15, 2008 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Now that the corporate hog trough has run dry, the union now has to turn to the U.S. taxpayer. Between the rear-view mirror style of management and the UAW incessant greed, the Big 3 have positioned themselves at the precipice. This economic crisis has not caused the Big 3's imminent demise, it has exposed it. It's time to pay the piper.

Posted by: hybridguy | November 15, 2008 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Big 3 have never being flexible to adjust to the economic changes. They are outdated in design, engineering, equipment, quality and business philosophy overall. Poor management desisions pile up to the point of no return.

They retire profitable models and keep building junk. They weed out good talented well educated young engineers. It is impossible for the young talents to break the wall of resistance from the old engineering guild who are doing nothing else, but awaiting retirement. Same with the hourly workers.

Using our tax $ to keep them alive? It is just too late.

PS: I am the former GM engineer.

Posted by: morena77 | November 15, 2008 10:18 PM | Report abuse

The BIG THREE have not focused on customer needs as they must. This is the core principle of success in business. These companies are doing better than before, but foreign makes still stay ahead at every turn.

I purchase or lease a new car every 3-4 years. Each time, I do my homework and go out looking for American cars hoping to get one, yet each time, I am not able to bring myself to compromise on "value"...to date, I have gone with Japanese or German products every time. This action of mine and many other Yanks should have sent a clear message to the Big Three to get busy designing and building products that the customers actually prefer.

A bailout alone will not work. The auto industry is GLOBAL, whether one wants to acknowledge that or not. The constraints that the Big Three must deal with are untenable...they cannot be globally competitive without the cooperation of labor. It isn't personal, it's business. Adapt or expire. If one wants to earn above average income, one must deliver above average value. Any other approach is neither sustainable nor rational.

It might be too late for the Big Three; I hope it isn't! Chapter 11 Bankruptcy will force the tough decisions needed to make the iconic American auto industry viable again. If the strongest medicine won't achieve the needed transformation, nothing will.

No bailout without bankruptcy reorganization and concessions all around. It is time for the American auto industry to either reinvent itself or throw in the towel.

Posted by: Tnerb | November 16, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

We are in the mess we find ourselves not just because of the "economy", and "decisions" made by the auto industry. We are here by gross mismanagement on every level but mainly we are here because of greed. CEO's getting platinum parachute for running companies into the ground, credit given and expanded bases on whether someone was breathing, and in some cases given to those not breathing. Financial oversight organizations that became part of the industry they were suppose to oversee. Nothing being done is helping us the people. Failed companies need to go bankrupt. AIG should not be "partly" owned by the US Government. The employees, not upper management, should be allowed to assume ownership of these failed companies. Shareholders had their oversight options and did not exercise them out of greed. Now they should be swept out with the top management idiots. Not to mention global reliance on a single major energy source. These resources have been controlled by cartels since the seventies that funded terrorist who attacked us then and now. The worst is yet to come economically and in political upheaval globally. So long as we have governments who are run not by the "people" but by the "in people" this will continue. Why did Obama win? Change without it we are doomed to more of the same. Unfortunately he is surrounded by politicos. So maybe we lose anyway.

Posted by: mjfoy | November 16, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

The U.S. Government should be supporting the new "GREEN ECONOMY", companies like BG Automotive.

For USD $25 Billion, BG could put 1.5 million Electric Cars on the road while creating jobs, saving U.S. consumers USD $2.5 Billion/yr on gasoline, and also reducing CO2 emissions by 7.5 million net tons per year.

First legitimate electric car coming to the market.

Safe, reliable and affordable.

Check it out............

Article:
http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tech-transport/electric-c100-vehicle.html

Video-You Tube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hog9wpZCg8U

BeGreen Advocate

Posted by: BeGreenAdvocate | November 17, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I believe the $75/hour figure to be accurate, and exclusive of all other benefits. In the mid-90s a friend of mine, a newly minted MBA, accepted a job awith a Chrysler supplier as a business analyst for $20/hr. She quickly learned how much the people on the 'floor', whom she was managing, were making: more than double her salary, plus tons of overtime. $100K annually was common. For people with HS diplomas, moving parts from one warehouse to another. The UAW shares equal blame for GM's crisis, along with GM management.

Posted by: blini4me | November 17, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

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