UAW/Unions auto news

Pages:  1   2   3    ..  

NLRB says Mercedes violated Alabama worker rights

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, SUVs, Government/Legal, Mercedes Benz, UAW/Unions, Luxury

Mercedes-Benz US International Inc.

Mercedes-Benz has run afoul of the National Labor Relations Board after an administrative judge ruled that the company violated organizing rights of workers at the company's Vance, AL factory, which builds the M-Class, GL-Class and the new C-Class.

Judge Keltner Locke upheld the charge that MB told employees they couldn't distribute pro-union literature in the factory's common areas during off-work hours, according to Automotive News. The other charges in the September 3 complaint, meanwhile, were dismissed, with Locke saying the company took "prompt remedial action."

While Locke's ruling comes without penalties, the factory, which is formally known as Mercedes-Benz US International Inc., must tweak its rules to allow off-duty workers to solicit other off-duty workers in certain parts of the factory (parking lots, break rooms, etc.), a right provided by the National Labor Relations Act.

The decision by Locke still isn't sitting well with some of the plant's employees, though. Don White, a 19-year veteran of the facility and one of the parties to the NLRB complaint, is one such worker.

"We're allowed to talk about church, football, anything else," White told AN. "There has been a lot of intimidation to keep us from trying to organize."

Read more..

Unifor may establish local union for Toyota's Canadian plants

07/17/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Plants/Manufacturing, Toyota, UAW/Unions, Canada

Toyota Corolla

Union tactics apparently translate across borders, as Canada's Unifor may take inspiration from the United Auto Workers' recent move at the Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, TN, and establish a local for the Toyota factories in Cambridge and Woodstock.

Unifor last attempted to organize the workers at the two factories, which are responsible for production of the Toyota Corolla (above), RAV4 and Lexus RX back in April, but that vote was eventually delayed. According to that report, 3,000 of the two plants' 7,500 employees signed union cards, but that apparently wasn't enough for Unifor to force a vote.

Because of this, the union is looking at the local approach, like what the UAW is attempting with VW.

"We have union halls in Woodstock and Kitchener-Waterloo; they could elect an executive and run monthly membership meetings," union president Jerry Dias told The Windsor Star. Dias added that the union "continues to sign up new members on a regular basis."

So what would the benefit to employees be if they sign up with the local? According to The Star, while Unifor couldn't act as a bargaining agent for the workers, employees would still be able to take part in other union activities. It's not entirely clear what these include, though, and as the primary mission of a union is to act as a bargaining agent for employees, the idea of a local would appear to leave something on the table.

As for when this plan could come to fruition, Dias says a final decision isn't expected until fall.

Read more..

GM Korea employees approve strike

07/10/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: GM, UAW/Unions, South Korea

Chevrolet Spark

Think the UAW is the only labor union that's angling to give General Motors headaches in the near term? Guess again. GM employees in South Korea's highly unionized and strike-happy workforce have officially approved a strike action against the automaker as labor talks are set to begin.

Of GM's 14,000 workers in South Korea, 69 percent approved the strike action, which will mark the fourth consecutive year, provided a deal can't be made. Workers are demanding a revamp of a 60-year-old wage structure, according to Reuters, and are also pushing for increases in production, despite the fact that GM is pulling the Chevrolet brand out of Europe (nearly every Bowtie in Europe is assembled by South Korean workers).

The push to renegotiate the wage structure is part of a government decision, where the country's supreme court ruled that fixed bonuses should be counted as part of the regular salary, according to Reuters. Workers want GM to comply with this agreement, largely because it will lead to an increase in base-pay-influenced things like overtime and severance pay.

As of right now, this "yes" vote doesn't mean there will be a strike - it simply means the option is available to workers, should talks break down. For GM's part, it's stressing this fact while also pointing out that a fourth consecutive strike action could have a negative impact on the work force.

GM's South Korean CEO, Sergio Rocha, pleaded with workers to "stop this vicious cycle before it is too late."

Of course, we'll stay with this one, should anything new develop.

Read more..

UAW forming local union for VW Chattanooga workers

07/10/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Plants/Manufacturing, Volkswagen, UAW/Unions

Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly

While the UAW was defeated in a February election at Volkswagen's Chattanooga factory, it wasn't enough to deter the union from future attempts at organizing the factory's labor force.

According to The Tennessean, the UAW is set to announce the formation of a union local for the plant's employees. Membership will be voluntary, and the union reports that VW won't formally recognize the local until a majority of the plant's workers join up.

"We will be announcing a local, and we would fully expect that Volkswagen would deal with this local union if it represents a substantial portion of its employees," the UAW's Region 8 director, Gary Casteel, told The Tennessean.

Apparently, the union has been considering this move since its 712-626 defeat in February, although the final decision was only made this week.

"The election was so close, we don't feel it's right to turn our backs on these workers," Casteel said.

The official announcement will be made at 4:00 PM today.

Read more..

New UAW boss Williams talks tough, vows 'no more concessions'

06/08/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Chrysler, Ford, GM, UAW/Unions

UAW New President

Dennis Williams, the newly elected president of the UAW, had some tough words for American automakers in his inauguration speech at the 2014 UAW Convention, striking down the possibility of any additional concessions from the 400,000-strong union.

"No more concessions. We are tired of it. Enough is enough," Williams said during his speech. UAW employees have not received a raise in nearly 10 years, according to Reuters.

Considering the recent strong results for Ford, Chrysler and General Motors, the union's demands are likely to carry a bit more weight in next year's negotiations. And considering Williams' tough stance, we could be in for some fireworks once negotiations commence.

"I want to work closely with the companies as long as it doesn't hurt our members," Williams said. "I do not like confrontation, but I'm not afraid of confrontation."

One of those points of confrontation could be the notorious two-tier wage system, which pays senior UAW employees $28 per hour, while new hires only make $14. Williams vowed to eliminate the plan during a press conference following his speech. We'll be interested to see how it all turns out.

Read more..

Dennis Williams elected UAW president

06/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Hirings/Firings, UAW/Unions

Dennis Williams (center) celebrates after being elected president of the UAW on June 4, 2014.

Back in 2010, on the day that Bob King was elected president of the United Auto Workers, replacing Ron Gettelfinger, Dennis Williams was elected secretary-treasurer of the union. Last December, Williams was nominated to replace King when King's tenure concluded this month, and as of yesterday, Williams is the new president of the UAW. Gary Walkowicz challenged Williams for the position - Walkowicz ran against King as well - but Williams won all but 55 of the 3,270 votes.

An article in the Detroit News presents members as most worried about the two-tier wage structure enacted after UAW givebacks necessitated by the financial crisis. Union folks say that having veteran floor workers make up to $28 dollars per hour while newer workers make around half that or, at most, $19 per hour, has "caused a major riff among union members." Another, perhaps more pressing, issue is the state of the union itself: Williams might want to begin his four-year term focused on growing a membership that has declined 31 percent in nine years and trying to, as one UAW delegate said, "educate people about its benefits."

All of those missions would fit in with the skills that led to his nomination. The man who worked for Case and has never worked in an auto factory is noted for excellent bargaining skills, his "record as a regional director" and his supposed connections to the current presidential administration. Having worked at the national level in the UAW for more than 25 years and closely with Bob King for the last four, no one expects a sudden change of direction from the leadership, but everyone will be looking to see what Williams can do that King wasn't able to.

There's a press release below from the UAW with more details on the election.

Continue reading Dennis Williams elected UAW president

Read more..

Lego Mini Cooper coming in August [w/video]

06/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Time Warp, Videos, Hatchbacks, MINI, UAW/Unions, Toys

Lego Mini Cooper

Lego isn't just for kids anymore. A while back, the company cleverly realized that adults liked its connecting blocks as much as kids but wanted a more sophisticated project to take on. It offers a whole set of Expert models, including a wickedly cool Volkswagen Bus from a few years ago. Now, it's taking aim at automotive enthusiasts again with the recently announced classic Mini Cooper set due to go on sale on August 1 for $99.99.

This is a seriously cool Lego model. At nine inches long, five inches wide and four inches tall, the car is certainly compact (as a Mini should be), but it contains 1,077 pieces. It's finished in the classic Mini look with a British Racing Green body with white roof, hood stripes and mirror caps. The doors, hood and trunk all open up, and there's even a little, simulated engine. The interior includes features like a turning steering wheel and movable gearshift and handbrake. In the boot, there is a cute picnic set, and even a spare tire hidden under the floor. If you want to show off your handiwork after it's built, the roof is removable to peer inside.

Expect dads around the world to be unwrapping these when the holidays roll around. Scroll down to watch one of Lego's designers detailing its latest set and read the full release about it, below. The gallery shows the Mini off from all of its blocky angles, as well.

Continue reading Lego Mini Cooper coming in August [w/video]

Read more..

UAW approves first dues increase since 1967

06/04/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: UAW/Unions

UAW Dues Increase

For the first time in over 40 years, members of the UAW will be paying higher union dues. The passing of the controversial measure will see employees pay the equivalent of an extra half hour of pay each month ($7 to $14, depending on wage level), in addition to the two-hours-per-month rate that's been in place since 1967.

Faced with a decrease in membership and an utter inability to unionize workforces in the southern, foreign-owned factories of BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia and Toyota, the UAW has been running an operating deficit of $30 to $40 million for the past few years. To balance the budget, it's been borrowing from the union's strike fund, siphoning out $25 million each year from an estimated total that sat around $930 million in 2006. It's now valued below $630 million.

The passing of this increase will give the union an extra $49 million to play with each year, which supporters claim would be used to end the annual transfer and shore up the dwindling strike fund. That, in turn, is key to the union's bargaining power as negotiations with Ford, General Motors and Chrysler approach.

It wasn't an easy decision, though, with plenty of dissenting opinions.

"I don't think it is the time," said Rich Boyer of UAW Local 140 to MLive. "This membership is divided. If we increase these dues now and don't go to the bargaining table and get significant increases in wages, we are in trouble."

Still, it's a move that's been a long time coming, according to the measure's proponents.

"The UAW is the only organized union that has not been raised in almost 50 years," said UAW Local 140's president, Mark Dickow to MLive. "It's about time."

Read more..

UAW convention reignites talk of organizing VW Chattanooga plant

06/04/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Government/Legal, Plants/Manufacturing, Volkswagen, UAW/Unions

VW Hiring

Well that didn't last long. It appears that the struggle by the United Auto Workers to unionize the Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, TN, is far from over, despite dropping its appeal of the failed vote to the National Labor Relations Board. This time it may even have renewed support coming from VW's Global Group Works Council.

Frank Patta, Global Group Works Council general secretary, spoke through an interpreter at the UAW Constitutional Convention and said that his representatives would support the union, according to Automotive News. He believes that the political turmoil around the time of the vote cost the group the election. The final results were 712 against and 626 in favor of representation.

Unionizing the plant now could be difficult. When it dropped the appeal, the UAW agreed not to call for another election for at least a year. There are alternatives, though. The workers could go through the complicated legal process of forming the works council on their own. If it waits a year, the union could try organizing only specific portions of the plant, like the body shop for example. Or it could cut out the NLRB, in favor of a neutral third party.

The works council has been one of the major goals of this process the entire time. At the moment, the Chattanooga plant is one of the few VW factories without a seat on the Global Group Works Council, which has a hand in major decisions like production locations and labor rules. In the end, Patta believes there will be a council at the factory, but with the first round as an indication, it won't come without a fight.

Read more..

How the UAW could still organize VW's Chattanooga plant

05/04/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Government/Legal, Plants/Manufacturing, Volkswagen, UAW/Unions

Volkswagen Chattanooga

The battle for the unionization of Volkswagen's Chattanooga factory is far from over. So say a number of labor experts who spoke to Reuters about the UAW and its failed bid to organize the factory's workers. This report comes barely a week after the union surprisingly dropped its appeal of the original vote.

According to experts like Larry Drapkin, a labor attorney in Los Angeles, instead of pushing for a large, factory-wide vote, the UAW could attempt to infiltrate smaller sections of the factory that are segregated from the greater workforce. The body shop, which is apparently pro-union, could be a prime target for the UAW.

The downside to this plan is that, like a factory-wide vote, it couldn't be done until February 2015, thanks to the guidelines of the National Labor Relations Board. The other option completely cuts out the NLRB, in favor of a neutral third party. The vote could be held either with the factory's entire workforce participating or just a portion, and it could be held without waiting a year.

The UAW could also push for a mix of both the "private" election and the segmented approach, according to one professor, who spoke to Reuters. "Through a private election, the UAW might want to carve out a group of workers among whom it has considerable support. That's a possible strategy," said Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Massachusetts.

Finally, the UAW could opt for a card check, which we've explained before. "The issue is do you use the government NLRB route, which the employer can insist on, or do you, as an employer and a union, agree to do some other method that legally may be used to determine the wishes of the employees," Ron Meisburg, a former NLRB member, told Reuters.

In the end, the best scenario for VW and the UAW might just be to wait a year, and hold a secret ballot vote with the backing of the NLRB, which Meisburg says has "the highest degree of integrity."

Read more..

Pages:  1   2   3    ..