IUE-GM NEGOTIATIONS CALLED 'CRITICAL'
DETROIT, July 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Increasing job security and creating jobs in IUE-represented plants were among the top demands of the International Union of Electronic Workers (IUE) AFL-CIO, who began negotiations today with General Motors (NYSE: GM) on behalf of 38,000 active and retired GM workers in New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Mississippi. IUE is the second largest union representing GM workers. Overall, the mood during the opening day of negotiations was optimistic that IUE will bargain a good contract. However, as IUE President William Bywater reiterated his union's support of all bargaining proposals, he said the possibility of a strike was not ruled out, and $40 million in the IUE strike fund will provide the necessary financial support should a strike be inevitable. IUE's expectations are rooted not only from better productivity in IUE plants, but by the fact that GM has been profitable in 1993, and U.S. manufacturers are recapturing market share lost to Japan and other foreign competitors. Industry analysts predict continued new car sales as Americans replace the 37 percent of cars and trucks on the road that are over 10 years old. "Although the company has suffered record losses over the past few years, it has not been the fault of our members. IUE-represented plants are productive and efficient," said IUE-GM Conference Board Chairman Ron Gilvin, who is the union's top negotiator with GM. IUE members build components such as shocks, struts, emission controls, batteries, electronic wiring and small motors as part of the Automotive Components Group Worldwide, a strong GM division leading the world in sales of component parts. IUE members also assemble the Chevy 4-door Blazer and GMC sport utilities which have seen sizable sales increases and a company commitment to introduce a new design to be built by IUE members in Moraine, Ohio. Bywater who addressed company negotiators in the opening session said: "The 1980s get rich quick at the expense of workers' mentality is over. The economic policies of the 1980s were thrown out as America elected a change in Washington. To compete globally, workers need more not less. They need more education and training opportunities, better health care and security in their jobs and retirement." Bywater was critical of the company's support of the North American Free Trade Agreement and said his union will continue to lead the fight to defeat the accord. "Impoverishing American communities that built the U.S. automobile industry and the exploitation of low wage workers outside the U.S. does nothing to advance the long-term profitability of GM," Bywater said. Bywater claimed, "If the company wants to sell more products, they should bring jobs back to the U.S. and pay workers a living wage." Insourcing work to IUE-represented plants is another of the union's goals in these contract talks. IUE Secretary-Treasurer Edward Fire, who has negotiated contracts with GM since the 1960s, called this year's negotiations "critical." "Never before have our members worked as efficiently to bring GM back to profitability. Under no circumstances will we agree to a contract that lowers our members' living standards. Workers need to be secure, healthy and well-trained to meet competitive demands of the 21st century," explained Fire. Of equal importance to IUE members is the current crisis caused by the company underfunding its future pension liability. "Workers who have dedicated a lifetime to GM must have security in their retirement," said Gilvin. "Falling long-term interest rates are expected to increase the unfunded liability by $5 billion -- a 36 percent increase by the end of 1993. This must be resolved as soon as possible," he said. For workers and retirees alike, security also rests in the availability of affordable health care. Fire, who also oversees the union's political education activities, said: "GM must actively join our fight for meaningful health care reform. Companies like GM that are mature industries cannot survive unless health care costs are contained. The answer is not to take away benefits from workers or retirees, but instead make sure every American has full access to comprehensive medical care," explained Fire. The union surveyed its GM members this spring, who said they would also like to see increases in insurance benefits and the reduction of work time. The current contract between IUE and GM expires on Sept. 14. -0- 7/7/93 /CONTACT: Steven Hahn or Scott Treibitz of the International Union of Electronic Workers, 313-874-4363/ (GM)
CO: International Union of Electronic Workers; General Motors ST: Michigan IN: AUT SU:
TW-DC -- DC011 -- 9131 07/07/93 14:32 EDT
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|Date:||Jul 7, 1993|
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