UAW considers what it can promise

John Dimsdale Dec 3, 2008
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UAW considers what it can promise

John Dimsdale Dec 3, 2008
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Scott Jagow: The CEO’s of GM, Ford and Chrysler are on their way to Washington. This time, they’re driving from Detroit — in hybrids. And I imagine they’ll be a little more humble after Congress gave them the what-for for flying their corporate jets last time.

According to their turnaround plans, the car makers will sell their corporate jets. Their CEOs will work for a dollar a year. They’ll cancel executive bonuses and raises. And they’ll make smaller cars, fewer trucks, cut their workforce and improve fuel efficiency. That’s what they promise if they get a bailout.

Today, the United Auto Workers union holds an emergency meeting in Detroit to go over what it might promise. John Dimsdale reports from Washington.


John Dimsdale: The UAW will consider temporarily waiving health care payments from the companies and cutting benefits for laid-off workers.

But labor advocate Jonathan Tasini says the union should get something in return.

Jonathan Tasini: Any concession the UAW gives should be traded off with control over some of the board seats that the auto companies have, so at least this money the UAW potentially might give up isn’t flushed down he drain by additional poor management decisions.

But former Reagan administration Commerce Secretary Peter Peterson says the average worker costs the Big Three $75 an hour — compared to $45 an hour at Asian-owned factories in the U.S.

Peter Peterson: It’s hard for me to visualize, given the politics of this, labor making those kind of changes voluntarily.

Peterson says bankruptcy, which allows companies to renegotiate their union contracts, is the only way to substantially lower the auto industry’s labor costs.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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