Auto workers: Keep jobs on U.S. shores

Job security for autowokers comes more from the automakers making commitments to invest in U.S. plants than from the previous contracts that paid them whether or not they were working.Job security for autowokers comes more from the automakers making commitments to invest in U.S. plants than from the previous contracts that paid them whether or not they were working. By Chris Isidore, senior writer


DETROIT(CNNMoney) -- Job security for auto workers used to mean ironclad labor contracts that insured they got paid whether or not they were working.

But today, as the United Auto Workers union prepares to return to the bargaining table with the Big Three after four years of painful concessions and layoffs, the union has its eye on a new kind of security -- keeping jobs on U.S shores.

At the UAW meeting in Detroit this week, the union's top negotiators said what's most important to their members is winning guarantees from the automakers to keep investing in new U.S. plants, in order to ensure job security.

"We've adopted a jobs, jobs, jobs agenda," said General Holiefield, the union's chief negotiator with Chrysler Group.

Negotiators say that union members extending all the way down to rank-and-file workers on the assembly lines are worried about getting product commitments and investments from the automakers.

"When I talk to members, they're most concerned about security," said Jimmy Settles, the union's chief negotiator with Ford Motor (F, Fortune 500), which is widely expected to be the first company the union tries to reach a deal with this fall.

Settles said strong product commitment does much more to protect jobs than contract provisions such as the so-called jobs bank, which used to pay laid-off workers nearly their full salary during the life of a labor contract.

"Maybe that was not the best concept," said Settles. "That concept was to stop outsourcing of work. It was never supposed to be to pay people not to do anything."

Focusing on getting the companies to make product commitments is a smarter way to protect the jobs of auto workers, said Sean McAlinden, executive vice president of research at the Center for Automotive Research.

"They know when the company parks a half-billion dollars in a plant, those jobs are guaranteed as they can be," he said.

That has workers at plants which don't have new product guaranteed to them, such as the General Motors (GM) plant in Shreveport, La., or the Ford plants in St. Paul, Minn. or Avon Lake, Ohio, desperate to get those commitments in the upcoming talks, McAlinden said.

He said the old job guarantees played a big role in making the U.S. automakers less competitive with the non-union U.S. plants operated by Asian automakers. And he said union officials understand the risks if U.S. automakers become uncompetitive once again.

"You're not going to be able to keep plants open if you go back to bad old days," he said. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,408.54 -16.31 -0.10%
Nasdaq 4,095.52 9.29 0.23%
S&P 500 1,864.85 2.54 0.14%
Treasuries 2.72 0.08 3.19%
Data as of 1:16am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.15 0.00 0.00%
Facebook Inc 58.94 0.00 0.00%
General Electric Co 26.56 0.00 0.00%
Cisco Systems Inc 23.21 0.00 0.00%
Micron Technology In... 23.91 0.00 0.00%
Data as of Apr 17
Sponsors

Sections

Spencer has been a supporting member of the "Good Morning America" cast for the past three years. More

Obamacare sign ups hit 8 million, though final enrollment remains to be seen. More

Office for iPad move is a symbolic victory for Nadella's Microsoft, but the company is still weighed down by many of the same old issues. More

Schwinn, Trek and Cannondale are all iconic American bicycle brands. But none of them are made in the United States. More

As Detroit moves closer to reaching a bankruptcy deal, retired civilian workers are poised to be left worse off than firemen and police officers. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.