The Lordstown Workers Gave Up a Lot in an Attempt to Save Their Plant

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

A couple of weeks ago President Trump offered a helpful tweet to the autoworkers in Lordstown, Ohio, who had just lost their jobs after GM shut down their plant.

April Fools! It wasn’t helpful at all. The president just told the United Autoworkers local president, who represents a bunch of Ohio residents who are now weighing uprooting their lives and moving to a new GM facility against unemployment, to stop complaining:

Way to go, Mr. President! He’s just tellin’ it like it is, on Twitter. He tends to say stuff like thisabout unions whenever he catches heat (on a TV channel he watches) from a union leader for not following through on his specific promises to save American manufacturing jobs. A common suggestion is to “lower dues,” as if organized labor hasn’t done anything to keep production in unionized plants.   

Well, organized labor isn’t a monolith and not all unions operate in the same way, but the United Autoworkers in Lordstown were very accommodating to GM in their last round of contract negotiations before the company shuttered the plant. They were agreeing to what the company called a “super competitive operating agreement” in an attempt to ward off layoffs … which came anyway.

Seriously, just read some of this stuff from Bloomberg:

To cut costs, the UAW merged Locals 1112 and 1714, which saved the company $3 million a year in administrative costs. Then the union agreed to outsource non-assembly jobs like handling of parts and materials to lower-wage workers employed by a subsidiary called GM Subsystems LLC, according to a document reviewed by Bloomberg.

Next, they allowed GM to cut the number of skilled tradesmen including electricians, pipe fitters, mechanics and die makers in half to 130 by letting the company contract out for overtime skilled-trade work and by changing job classifications, said Scott Brubaker, who was chairman of Local 1714.

The union allowed outside firms to send in contractors to repair supplier parts and assembled vehicles at the plant. It also agreed to drop the number of extra workers employed to cover absentee workers to 60, from 150.

These companies are driven, ultimately, by turning a profit as they and bloodless industry consultants say over and over again, and there are profits to be made by offshoring jobs to Mexico where workers have grown more productive while wages haven’t really budged.

If the USMCA – the NAFTA rewrite the Trump administration negotiated with Canada and Mexico – is ratified, that will help. It would require autos to be built by workers making at least $16 an hour to avoid U.S. import tariffs. That will draw auto assembly jobs back into the States and cause Mexican wages to rise (and make American labor rates more competitive by comparison).

That would be a legitimately big deal for the American autoworker. So you can’t say President Trump, who heads the Trump administration, isn’t doing anything to help those that are getting jerked around by a company that reported record profits last year.

But there's no ratified deal yet to help make American auto wages more competitive, so there's no help for the workers in Lordstown. And in the meantime, the president just tweets.

***

Reposted from AAM

Posted In: From Alliance for American Manufacturing, Allied Approaches

Union Matters

The Big Drip

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

A rash of water main breaks in West Berkeley, Calif., and neighboring cities last month flooded streets and left at least 300 residents without water. Routine pressure adjustments in response to water demand likely caused more than a dozen pipes, some made of clay and more than 100 years old, to rupture.

West Berkeley’s brittle mains are not unique. Decades of neglect left aging pipes susceptible to breaks in communities across the U.S., wasting two trillion gallons of treated water each year as these systems near collapse.

Comprehensive upgrades to the nation’s crumbling water systems would stanch the flow and ensure all Americans have reliable access to clean water.

Nationwide, water main breaks increased 27 percent between 2012 and 2018, according to a Utah State University study.  

These breaks not only lead to service disruptions  but also flood out roads, topple trees and cause illness when drinking water becomes contaminated with bacteria.

The American Water Works Association estimated it will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years to upgrade and expand water infrastructure.

Some local water utilities raised their rates to pay for system improvements, but that just hurts poor consumers who can’t pay the higher bills.

And while Congress allocates money for loans that utilities can use to fix portions of their deteriorating systems, that’s merely a drop in the bucket—a fraction of what agencies need for lasting improvements.

America can no longer afford a piecemeal approach to a systemic nationwide crisis. A major, sustained federal commitment to fixing aging pipes and treatment plants would create millions of construction-related jobs while ensuring all Americans have safe, affordable drinking water.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work