New hires not yet buoying the spirits of autoworkers
Despite new hires in the automotive industry, autoworkers are not quite ready to celebrate.
January 31st, 2011
04:24 PM ET

New hires not yet buoying the spirits of autoworkers

American automakers are modestly adding new jobs that some say signal a strengthening American manufacturing sector.

Autoworkers are not celebrating yet.

Second-generation GM autoworker Leonard Smith says the last time he checked, there were still some 6,000 workers laid off.

“The plant I’m working at now at Marion, Indiana, has 70 original hires out of 1,400 employees,” Smith said.

He said those who were not laid off have been transferred to other plants. He and many others have been transferred several times. They’re called “GM gypsies.” Smith said no one feels secure because there are still “flex employees” which are temporary workers being hired and/or rehired with thousands of union workers running out of unemployment benefits.

He says, too, that with the government bailout of GM, the union now owns 17 percent of the corporation.

“That seems like a conflict of interest to me,” he said.

Bob King, the new president of United Auto Workers, said it’s not the union that owns the shares of GM but rather the Volunteer Employee Benefit Association, a group that pays health care benefits to retired GM, Ford and Chrysler employees.

“The VEBA owns only about 10 or 13 percent now,” said King. “We sold shares during the IPO, but we still hold a significant portion.”

He also said it’s not a conflict of interest.

“We’re all in this together,” King said. “The more profitable and successful the companies are, the more secure our membership is."

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Filed under: Auto Industry • Economy • General Motors • Indiana
soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. RUFFNUTT

    if they want to work for the auto industry there in the wrong country.. try going to mexico, thats where alot of the new cars are made now.

    January 31, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • alex

      GOT THAT RIGHT. I was sooo po'd when I looked at the paperwork of my new Dodge Journey......only the engine and transmission MADE IN AMERICA, all the rest in Mexico. I could have bought a Toyota, made in Atlanta GA.

      February 1, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Philip

    When Honda and Datsun first began exporting cheap cars that couldn't compete with US automakers, their nation paid what everyone else did for OPEC oil, and the volume was limited just like it was for all OPEC customers. Much of this oil came from Iraq, who had legal and binding contracts with them. Then Kuwait began illegally selling OPEC oil to them at lower prices and unlimited volumes. They could then afford to produce even more cars and at a higher quality level, and as we all know, they did. The Iraqi people complained to the United Nations for over two years because Kuwait had stolen their customer illegally, and the Iraqi economy was in shambles because of it.The UNs voting nations with veto power ignored these complaints, and so they took to the streets demanding their government do something, anything. (cont) 🙂

    January 31, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Philip (cont)

    The Iraqi gov. caved in to the peoples demands and invaded Kuwait. They were met head-on by the most powerful force ever, led by a man whose family and cronies personally owned, and still own, much of the mineral rights to Kuwaits oil. // Now it's China paying about 27 bucks a barrel where everyone else pays over 80, with "coalition" troops guarding their Caspian Basin oil supply owned by, you guessed it, that same family and cronies mentioned above. (The Carlyle Group) No wonder China can make any quality item you want, and at a price you can afford. Cheap or high-tech, China can make it for less because they pay less for their energy. (plus they produce 53% of their own oil) No wonder GM is concentrating on making and selling cars in China. GM realizes that soon, that's where most all cars will be made.

    January 31, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Philip (footnote)

    Kuwait's illegal oil sales cost the Iraqi economy to tumble over 50%, and as you can imagine, their people were in a bind and began infighting even more. How would you react if some foreigners illegal activities resulted in a loss of over half of our economy? CAUTION: this is a trick question, so give it some thought. and remember, we are already reacting to jobs lost overseas, so try and think of any illegal activities going on that add to this and other problems we've recently gone through before answering. You might include what you see happening in the future along these lines. (and as always, thanks for reading my posts, and I look fwd. to any reply...good, bad, or indifferent.) 🙂

    January 31, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Thenewfoxgop

    politics and news are so boring.. Its obvious that phillip and crew have no art..music or life. This thread is about america..a far better subject for those who live here and will never travel just as phillip to any arab country or really know those nations.al jazeera rocks.

    January 31, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Philip

    @thenewfox...as if you would know. I've worked in the oilfield for most of my life and have travelled the world doing this. And yes, even to Arab nations. And this story is about turmoil in Egypt, NOT in the America's. (I never travel abroad for vacation. I stick mainly to our own south and west)

    January 31, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. raven

    Well Im no genius but I dont think NEWS is boring ,hence the name 'new's ,its the most current info about whats goin on in the world .i do get bored by politics sometimes tho . Actually more like burnt out. And I love art ,my guys in a band in fact . one doesnt preclude the other :you can be interested in arts AND politics ,makes ya well rounded .

    January 31, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. raven

    Hey Philip ,you ever work on the slope or in Cook inlet ?

    January 31, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Philip

    @raven...I assume you refer to the north slope, and no, I haven't. Are you from there?

    January 31, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Philip

    We did a job running pigs with compressed air on the Aleyeska line. But that was years ago when I was a womanizing drunk youngster. (I'm all better now) he he

    January 31, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Philip

    Oopsy! When I replied to Thenewfox troll, I thought I was still on the Egypt chart. My posts here were all about the US auto industry, and how it's being taken over by those who pay less for their oil than we do.

    January 31, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. raven

    Yeah , I was born in Anchorage but raised in Kenai. Worked in Prudhoe and the platforms. Wierd you mention pigs as i just got off the phone with my brother and they just sent one while i was talkin to him . im so glad to be outa the oil patch . and i keep confusing my posts too .i must have the attention span of a gnat...

    January 31, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Philip

    He he...it happens to me when someone gets in my face. And yeah, I've retired from the oilfield. I still do some local cosulting, but just to help friends and relatives. I kinda miss it though. I mean the way it was when I was younger. You have any funny or interesting oilfield stories to tell reaven?

    January 31, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. raven

    Like the idiot who fell off the monopod ? (i lived in a lil coastal town where everyone knows everyone) anyway ,he was fartin around with the safety pod davits and fell in.he had on a mustang suit but drifted outa the inlet by the time they fished him out . he been tryin to sue for years ,just heard yesterday that he was at the dr swearing his blood now flows backwards from the shock of the water .there are tonsa stories bout that kook .

    January 31, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Philip

    And I thought you were a gal for some reason, and while most of the fems I met in the patch were geologists/mud loggers, there were a couple of them that roughnecked. One gal was 6' 5 and weighed over 300 lbs! We were on a job in central Wyoming and all went into town for a beer(s). She got drunk and beat the hello out of a few smart mouth locals...and even turned on me thinking i was one of them! I said "I know your bigger than me but i'll give it my best shot!" She started laughing uncontollably and we all had a good ol' time after that. (so are you M or f raven?)

    January 31, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
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