Oct 6, 2003
As usual, before auto workers voted last month on the UAW's proposed national contract, they got only a selected summary of the contract to read.
One of the items noted was a giveback to the companies of 2 cents an hour of each quarter's COLA (cost-of-living) raise. The giveback means that at the end of the 4-year contract, workers will have lost 30 cents an hour. Each worker will by then be giving back to the companies about $600 per year, each and every year into the future.
The contract summary justified this give-back by stating, "Negotiators addressed the 'legacy costs' with a COLA diversion of 2 cents per quarter that will secure pension improvements for current retirees and surviving spouses."
After the contract was approved, a business reporter at the Detroit Free Press asked auto company executives about this provision.
Dennis Cirbes, vice-president of labor relations for Ford, said, "the UAW focused on improving the position of all the domestic auto-industry participants. We certainly appreciate that approach ... (the money is) diverted to Ford Motor Company. It's not earmarked for any special purpose."
A spokesperson for Chrysler also told the reporter that the 2 cents are not to be restricted to any particular use. That is – it's not going into the pension funds.
The UAW bases its labor relations policy on the idea that workers and bosses are in a "partnership." But in this case the "partners" didn't even bother to provide cover for the union leadership's lie.