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October, 2006

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Ford has a better idea
(On how to get rid of workers)

Workers rally for health care in Wilmington, Del.
Workers rally for health care in Wilmington, Del. In the new global economy, workers such as these know that they cannot depend solely on the bargaining table to win their fights.
PHOTO/Fred Comegys delawareonline.com

In January, Ford Motor Co. announced unprecedented plant closings and layoffs. But on September 15, Ford announced an acceleration of it's "Way Forward" business plan to secure it's future and "get competitive." Ford is seeking to eliminate 25,000 to 30,000 hourly workers by 2012, along with 14,000 salaried workers by 2007 -- but will close nine of the previously announced 14 plants by 2009. The "new" business model uses the same strategy as GM and Delphi did -- radically reduce the labor force through buyouts and attrition packages. And just like GM, Ford had recently negotiated core changes in the Health Care plan, including raising co-pays and deductibles for its retirees.

Since January, however, Ford went further than GM since they were able to open up local agreements at 30 facilities and renegotiate new work rules etc. These local "modern operating agreements" saved the company over $600 million.

Also, unlike GM, Ford hired themselves a bionic man -- Alan Mullaly from Boeing. Starting with his $7.5 million signing bonus, salary, stock options and other perks, he's a bona fide auto baron whose total contract is estimated to be $100 million!!!

Delphi Update

Now that nearly 70% of the almost 25,000 Delphi employees have opted (under duress) to leave, workers everywhere are watching to see what if any settlement Delphi, UAW, and GM can agree to. (In another bankruptcy case, parts supplier Tower reached an agreement with its unions, but details were unavailable at the time of this writing.) The newest "hit day" for Delphi to appear in court to dissolve UAW contracts is October 19. Recent UAW contracts in this intense climate of plant closings and layoffs are being judged on the basis of "how much can we keep of what we already have?" The Delphi bankruptcy is the largest in history. Almost 70 years of hard fought union wages and benefits hang in the balance. The idea that a judge can undo all of this with the stroke of a pen means that it's time not only for new tactics and strategy on the part of the unions, but also it's time for a whole new social contract as well.

More Health Care Cuts Coming?

Right now GM is spearheading a public relations campaign through the news media lamenting the high cost of Health Care. A local Detroit newspaper recently had a front page article entitled "Stranglehold -- How General Motors and the Nation Are Losing an Epic Battle to Tame the Health Care Beast." Clearly, this a transparent attempt to prep the public (including autoworkers) for further cuts in Health Care. Stay Tuned …

Correction: In an article in the September issue, we described Gary Walkowicz as a retiree. In fact, he is an active auto worker.

This article originated in the People's Tribune
PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 773-486-3551, info@peoplestribune.org.
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