Wednesday, September 26, 2007

GM Strike

It looks on the face of it as if United Auto Workers have made a deal very quickly in their dispute with GM. Though they have won some of the concessions they sought, the union leaders seem to have conceded an arrangement allowing the company to buy out workers and replace them with ones on lower incomes, or so the Wall Street Journal says. Further, the VEBA healthcare scheme, in which the union takes over the management of a voluntary healthcare programme rather than leaving the company with the costs, appears to be going ahead with some changes to make the system more appealling to workers (which means GM are going to provide enough money to keep it solvent). The walk-out spread very quickly, and seems to have been very powerful. This was the first national walk-out by car workers for decades, and the first by GM workers since 1970. The fact that GM made the concessions that it did is indicative of how much damage a lengthy strike could have done. Given how many defeats American workers have suffered, the UAW members might well simply accept the deal as it stands. They could clearly get a better deal than this, but it would take more than a two-day strike. Still, the deal has to be ratified both by UAW workers and (for some reason) the courts, so this may not be the end of the story.