GM sees protest against plans to build a new small car with low-wage workers

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 18, 2010

In protest of General Motors Co.’s plans to produce a new small car with low-wage workers, about 100 of the carmaker’s workers and retirees held a picket outside the UAW's headquarters in Detroit on Saturday.

Just a few days ago, several veteran UAW workers at the Orion Township plant north of Detroit were told they have to accept half the amount of the wages that they have been making as GM is rushing to complete preparations for a stock offering.

For the production that starts in August of a new subcompact car for its Chevrolet brand and the Buick Verano compact at the now-closed assembly plant, GM will be hiring more than 1,300 workers.

Many workers became upset when they knew about the details of the concessions granted by the UAW's national leaders.

According to Rick Milkie, a nine-year Orion plant veteran, it’s unacceptable that the UAW allowed GM to hire an increasing number of workers at wages of about $14 per hour. Milkie was one of those who marched outside UAW headquarters. He held a sign saying, "Call a Cop, I've Been Robbed."

He added that Walter Reuther, UAW's long-serving president during the union's heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, must be “rolling in his grave.”

What the UAW has agreed to exactly is for GM to operate the Orion plant with 40% of its workers at that second-tier wage – this is about half of the nearly $29 per hour that veteran UAW-represented GM workers are receiving. A local union official told Orion workers that over time, GM will be staffing the entire plant with workers at the lower wage level. [via Reuters]

Topics: gm, small car

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