September 23, 2007

Obviously, it's not your father's solid manufacturing career anymore either...

uawstrike_ap.jpg  BBC:

United Auto Workers (UAW) union members at General Motors (GM) have walked out on strike after contract talks failed to reach an agreement.

It is the first time that UAW has held a nationwide strike during contract negotiations since 1976.

Workers began forming pickets outside five GM plants in the US as a deadline for a deal passed.

The carmaker wants staff to give up some of their expensive benefits such as pensions and health insurance.

In return the union wants assurances on job security from GM.

In a statement, GM said it was disappointed about the strike.

"The bargaining involves complex, difficult issues that affect the job security of our US work force and the long-term viability of the company," it said.

Here's the full text of the UAW statement.  The BBC has some interesting links on the changing marketplace for GM. Autoblog will be watching the strike closely, as will Michigan Messenger.

Maybe I'm betraying my labor bias on this one, but it's hard for me to feel sympathetic to GM on this one.  They're asking workers to give up pensions and health insurance and not even guarantee their job?  Where's the incentive for the American workers?  The substantial drop in market share that GM has experienced over the last 25 years can be directly pointed at shortsighted economic decisions that caught them flat-footed as the market and customer demand changed and left them behind.  The same attitude can be carried over to much of the American manufacturing base as well.

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