UAW on day 4 of strike; expert predicts outcome
MID-MICHIGAN (WNEM) - The UAW strike against the Big Three is in its fourth day, and as negotiations continue, at least one auto industry expert is predicting what both sides will accomplish whenever a deal is reached.
“I think the union is going to get substantial pay increases. They’ll be spread out over a few years to ease the pain to the car companies, but the car companies can afford to raise the pay, and that’s big on the worker’s minds,” said Erik Gordon, a clinical professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.
Gordon believes the UAW could secure up to a 30 percent pay increase in an agreement that would end the strike. Gordon also thinks the union will get the Big Three auto companies to eliminate tiers and change the way temporary workers are handled.
However, he thinks the UAW will have to make concessions.
“They’re not likely to get a 32-hour work week with 40 hours of pay,” he said.
They’re also not likely to get what Gordon calls the “old-style retirement plans” that haven’t been around for 50 years. He also doesn’t think the UAW will get the right to strike if a company closes a plant.
“The union is also not going to get the car companies to agree to automatically unionize the joint-venture battery plants without a union vote,” he said. “For one thing, I don’t think the car companies can agree to that because those plants are actually owned by a joint-venture. They’re not wholly owned by the car companies.”
Gordon said he came to these conclusions because auto companies can afford to pay more but they want flexibility in return.
“I think the union is going to have to swallow those pills, even if they’re bitter pills, because who else has guaranteed job security? And the auto industry is going through a time of tremendous change. So, whatever the union gets in the contract, if the plants have to be closed, they will be closed. So, I think the union is going to need to be realistic about that. And the rank and file are going to have to face reality,” he said.
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