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.
â€śThe plant Iâ€™m working at now at Marion, Indiana, has 70 original hires out of 1,400 employees,â€ť 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. Theyâ€™re called â€śGM gypsies.â€ť Smith said no one feels secure because there are still â€śflex employeesâ€ť 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.
â€śThat seems like a conflict of interest to me,â€ť he said.
Bob King, the new president of United Auto Workers, said itâ€™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.
â€śThe VEBA owns only about 10 or 13 percent now,â€ť said King. â€śWe sold shares during the IPO, but we still hold a significant portion.â€ť
He also said itâ€™s not a conflict of interest.
â€śWeâ€™re all in this together,â€ť King said. â€śThe more profitable and successful the companies are, the more secure our membership is."
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