General Motors put another Special Attrition Package on the table to entice union autoworkers into taking early retirements or buy-outs. Of all the SAPs offered over the last four years, this has got to be the worse when it comes to incentives. Don’t get me wrong, there are incentives, but you have to wonder who benefits the most, the autoworkers or the automakers and the government. To make matters worse for those who may be considering this offer, Corporate and UAW Representatives are negotiating in the media and thereby trying to scare us into taking it.
The first scare came when a Detroit newspaper published an article about Chrysler ending its Jobs Bank provision; a week later another article said GM would be ending its on February 2nd, both of which were a condition of the Bush Government’s $17.4 billion bailout loans. One of the articles stated that, “the money-saving changes had to be negotiated with the UAW.” The article went on to say, “the union let Chrysler shift its Jobs Bank workers onto unemployment and supplemental pay,” which would pay laid-off workers only 72% of their pay as apposed to 95% had they kept the Jobs Bank provision.
By all appearances, the press makes it sound like the union’s membership had a part in negotiations and that they willingly gave up the Jobs Bank, which is not the case. UAW president Gettelfinger and his VP henchmen gave up this benefit and they did it without membership approval. When this issue was raised in an email to the soldiersofsolidarity.com email group, retired local president Wendy Thompson wrote that the Jobs Bank was a Memorandum Of Understanding between the Corporations and the UAW’s leadership and that they had the right to concede it, wonderful.
In one fell swoop, Gettelfinger and his goons, who didn’t have the guts to run this concession by the membership first, chose instead to use the media to sucker punch laid-off autoworkers with a whopping 23% pay cut. Then they used the media again, Bloomberg.com, to set us up for the next sucker punch by publishing an article about UAW VP Holiefield sending local Chrysler presidents a letter on January 22nd that said Sub pay might be a target of negotiations. Going from $50K a year to living on just unemployment at about $15K is a hell of an incentive to scare eligible autoworkers into retiring.
If Holiefield sent his local presidents a letter about possible Sub pay concessions, did VP Rapson send a similar letter to local GM presidents? If he did, my local’s leadership didn’t forward it to us, because the first time we heard about it was in the media. We pay $720 a year in union dues and yet vital negotiations affecting our lives are given to the media first. There’s something very wrong with this, but complaining to Gettelfinger and his goons won’t change a thing, been there and done that, many times.
Now that our faces are bloodied and bruised, they used the media again to throw a few body blows when they announced that a deals been reached between the automakers and the UAW. According to cowardly anonymous sources there will be limits placed on overtime, work rules will change, lump-sum bonuses and cost-of-living raises will be cut; however, base wages will remain the same, for now. My body is already beat up from working 32.5 years on the assembly line and now the corporate bastards and UAW traitors want us to work even harder for less than we all agreed to in the 2007 National Agreement?
The same cowardly sources who gave the media the above information also said that Sub pay for laid-off autoworkers with more than 20 years of service can collect SUB pay for 52 weeks at the traditional 72 percent of gross pay and another 52 weeks at half pay. Workers with less than 20 years get 72 percent SUB pay for 39 weeks and half pay for an additional 39 weeks. That’s better than cutting us off completely, but they’re still kicking us while we’re down. Oh yeah, and here’s a kick to the kidneys, GM announced that it will close an additional five plants on top of the twelve already agreed to but they won’t say which ones so we can make a more informed choice. The corporate bastards are playing Russian roulette with our lives and the UAW’s traitors are supplying the gun and bullets.
When I first heard, through the media of course, that Chrysler was offering a $25K car voucher and $50K in cash, I thought, if GM makes the same offer, I’ll take it and sell the voucher and bank the $75K, but GM had other plans. They offered a $25K car voucher but only $20K in cash, damn it. GM’s reason for the lesser offer was because it was contractually required to buy back parts of Delphi. Okay, I accept that, but I have a problem with a billion dollars of the government’s bridge loan being used to renovate a plant in Brazil. How’s that for a kick to the scrotum? If this is true, does President Obama know about it? If he doesn’t have a problem with GM spending American taxpayers’ money on its foreign operations, then I have a problem with him. Say it isn’t so Mr. Obama.
If you let them, negotiations being played out in the media will stress you out. And I believe that is why the bastards and traitors are doing it. They want us to know just how powerless we are, and they want us to be aware that if we refuse this SAP, they will make our lives a living hell by speeding up the line and overworking our jobs while new hires push brooms and drive material trucks grinning from ear to ear. And just in case you plan on waiting for another buy-out offer, their cowardly sources let it be known in the media that this in the last call, no more buy-outs. How’s that for a kick to the head? Okay, I’m thinking about getting out and leaving the next generation with the task of dealing with the UAW’s traitors who stole our union’s democracy, but first I have a couple questions about the voucher and cash.
On Thursday February 19th, a few of my coworkers and I commuted to Wilmington’s Union Hall for the roll out of the SAP. Someone asked the first question on my list. A lady asked, “If I buy a $13K car with the $25K voucher, can I get the remaining $12K?” The GM rep said, “No,” which caused a lot of grumbling. Have another kick to the head. I got the microphone next and said, “That’s not fair.” The GM rep shrugged like the $12K was just pocket change. I said, “Can’t we have what’s left over credited towards oil changes and tune ups?” The GM rep said, “No, but the voucher can be used towards any GM vehicle.” This caused more grumbling. In other words, GM sells a more expensive vehicle and gets the $25K back minus the taxes paid to the government, sweet deal for them and Uncle Sam, not so much for us.
Since I already had the mic, I asked, “Can the $20K be deposited into our Personal Savings Plans?” The GM rep said, “No.” And there’s that kick in the teeth you knew was coming. This caused more grumbling until the GM rep decided to elaborate on the reason why. According the GM rep, prior SAP programs were financed with our Pension Fund, which is currently funded at 85%. And the government forbid GM from using the Pension Fund for this SAP, which is instead financed with the government’s bridge loans and therefore can not be put in our PSPs, at least not until the government taxes the crap out of it, more grumbling, because again, it’s a sweeter deal for them and Uncle Sam than it is for us.
The good news out of this ass kicking, that is if the GM rep can be believed, is our Pension Fund is 85% funded, at least that’s secure, for now. Too bad Gettelfinger and his goons let GM use it to finance previous SAPs, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why. Like president Obama is so fond of saying, “Everyone needs to have a little skin in the game,” everyone that is except Gettelfinger and his goons, who are sacrificing the skin off our backs while they’re not loosing a single miniscule flake, so what do they care? Their benefits and pensions are secure, to hell with us and ours. By the way, what’s the penalty for treason these days and when are we going to administer it?
With or without the global economic meltdown, GM CEO Wagoner, president Henderson and that ‘Global warming is a crock of shit’ guy Lutz would have driven the corporation into the ditch eventually anyway, so their working for a dollar a year hardly qualifies them for having skin in the game since they all made themselves multi-millionaires while wrecking the corporation. They’re no different than the greedy fat bastard CEOs on Wall Street, AIG and in the Banking Industry who are responsible for this global economic collapse, but yet they’re rewarded with bonuses and walk away with golden parachutes while employees and investors lives are ruined and the world spins down the crapper. It’s really too bad this country outlawed public executions for treason, because examples need to be made of these a--holes.
After a two month shutdown, a full crew will be at work in the Wilmington plant next week for four weeks and then laid-off for a week and return April 6th to produce 4.5 jobs an hour. A seniority date of 06.01.81 is needed to hold the plant. If my calculations are correct and not enough people take this SAP, only Wilmington autoworkers will be left in the plant. If I take the cash and sell the voucher, after taxes I’d clear less than I would collecting unemployment and Sub. This deal sucks big time, and I won’t let their media negotiations influence my decision; I’ll retire when I’m damned good and ready, and not before.
In Solidarity, Doug Hanscom
Soldiers Of Solidarity