UAW Protests in Detroit Over Two-Tiered Wages, Union President Calls for Profit Sharing

Members of the United Auto Workers union protested in Detroit yesterday against the two-tiered wage system that dominates American automotive plants. The Detroit News reports the protestors called the system unfair, and claimed it “erodes the middle class.”

The UAW is currently renegotiating contracts with Detroit’s Big Three automakers, Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors. The protestors want the new deal to put an end to the two-tiered wage system that was first introduced in 2007. Under the system, new workers in American factories are typically paid $14 to $16 per hour, while veteran line workers can earn $28 per hour or more.

According to the News, the two-tier plan helped the Big Three better compete with foreign automakers, which generally pay their assembly-line workers less than UAW factories. The protestors in Detroit claimed that this could “pave the way” for lower wages for all employees, and that doing so would “erode the middle class” of auto workers.

UAW President Bob King, however, says his union won’t make any more concessions in its current round of negotiations. Indeed, King said it’s reasonable for the union to demand higher wages. However, King has also cautioned that wage increases could slow the recovery of American automakers. He instead advocates profit-sharing programs, wherein automakers supplement workers’ paychecks when times are good. Finally, the UAW will attempt to spread its influence to the factories of foreign automakers in other parts of the U.S. over the coming months and years.

The UAW currently represents about 112,000 hourly employees with Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors. The union’s current contract is set to expire September 14.

Source: The Detroit News

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