Tag Archive | "union"

Hyundai-Led Group Agrees to $10 Billion Land Deal, Stokes Union Rage


Hyundai Motor Co and its two affiliates approved Asia’s biggest property deal since the financial crisis on Friday when their board members agreed to pay 10.55 trillion won ($10.12 billion) for a trophy plot of land to house a new headquarters in downtown Seoul, reported Reuters.

The Hyundai-led group – which includes Kia Motors Corp and Hyundai Mobis Co – agreed to the price, more than triple the appraised amount, prompting a sharp sell-off in the companies’ shares.

About 11.6 trillion Korean won ($11.11 billion) have been wiped of the market values of the companies since the purchase was announced last week.

Labor union employees, who make up the bulk of the companies’ workforce, voted on Friday to extend a strike into next week in show of disapproval of the purchase which will be used to house a new headquarters, hotel and theme park complex.

“Building an integrated control tower will enhance work efficiency and brand value,” Hyundai Motor said in its regulatory filing on Friday.

The Hyundai-led consortium, which beat Samsung Electronics to buy the plot in the capital’s high-end Gangnam district, plans to ink the deal with the state-run Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) later on Friday.

Shares of Hyundai Motor ended down 1.3 percent at 187,000 won each on Friday, their lowest level in 17 months. Kia Motors slipped 0.8 percent, and Hyundai Mobis was up 0.6 percent.

The $10 billion price-tag is equivalent to selling nearly half a million of Hyundai’s flagship Sonata sedans, and nearly two years of combined wages for Hyundai’s 63,099 employees in Korea, according to Reuters’ calculation.

Hyundai Motor will pay 55 percent of the price, followed by Hyundai Mobis Co Ltd with 25 percent and Kia Motors Corp with 20 percent, the companies said. They did not disclose whether the board approval was unanimous.

The boards of the three companies had approved bidding at the Sept. 18 auction without knowing the price, which was deemed confidential, four board members told Reuters earlier.

Board disapproval is rare at Korea’s family-owned conglomerates, or chaebols.

WORKERS EXTEND STRIKE

The land deal led to the domestic unions of Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors resuming partial strikes this week, clouding the outlook for annual wage talks.

Workers “are angered by the astronomical amount of money” to be spent on the land, Kia’s union said.

Hyundai Motor’s labor union said on Friday it would stage a partial strike from Monday through Thursday next week.

Hyundai, the world’s fifth-biggest automaker along with its affiliate Kia, has been hit by strikes in all but four years of the union’s 27-year history, although they usually make up losses with extra work later that year.

The stoppages comes as Hyundai and Kia are planning to build new factories in China and Mexico, closer to export markets and where wages are lower than in South Korea.

Recurring labor disputes, high wages at home and strong currency are expected to put further pressure on the automaker to accelerate overseas production. Hyundai made 62 percent of its cars last year overseas, up from 20 percent in 2004.

Since annual wage talks began in early June, Hyundai Motor and union negotiators have wrangled over a new wage calculation, which the company says would sharply increase labor costs.

Hyundai’s domestic employees, excluding executives, earn an average 94 million won ($90,419) per year.

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Anti-UAW Workers Seek to Form Union at Volkswagen Plant


Employees at the Volkswagen AG auto plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, are attempting to form a union that will include hourly and salaried workers as a counter to the United Auto Workers Local 42 established last month, a leading anti-UAW worker said on Tuesday, reported Reuters.

Mike Burton, who helped anti-UAW workers defeat the UAW’s effort to represent VW Chattanooga hourly workers six months ago, told Reuters he hopes the new union will force VW to hold another vote to determine which one is favored by hourly employees.

Burton said the proposed union local at Chattanooga will be the first chapter of what will be called the American Council of Employees. The new union will operate differently than the UAW, which he says hurts the competitiveness of unionized U.S. automakers.

Burton claims that since the February vote when the UAW lost by a 712-626 count, Volkswagen has drawn closer to that union, which is one of the main reasons he wants to create an alternative.

Burton said attorneys who helped him with an anti-UAW worker group called Southern Momentum during the February election at Chattanooga might help him with the ACE, but he did not elaborate.

Gary Casteel, secretary-treasurer of the UAW, told Reuters on Tuesday he does not see how Burton’s union stands much of a chance because VW and the UAW “have a consensus” that the company will recognize Local 42.

Casteel said it is up to VW whether it will recognize the new union if Burton is successful in creating one at the VW plant, which has about 1,500 hourly workers.

Casteel said Local 42 continues to gain support and now has “substantially more than 700 members, so there are not many workers left for the anti-union union to pick up.”

He would not say whether Local 42 has more than 750 members, which would be a majority of hourly workers.

The UAW normally faces stiff opposition from companies when it tries to organize workers, but is not being opposed by VW at the Chattanooga plant. The UAW wants to use this unique situation among non-unionized auto plants in the United States to establish a foothold among foreign-owned factories in the south of the country.

VW has often said it wants to have Chattanooga representation on its global works council. Works council representation is in place at every major VW plant in the world except Chattanooga. In order for the Chattanooga workers to have works council representation, they must first be represented by a U.S. union, most labor law experts say.

Burton said that he and co-workers collected 108 signatures on Monday for a petition supporting the ACE. He hopes to get enough signatures to show VW that his union has widespread support in the plant.

VW plant officials were not immediately available.

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Fiat Chief Tears Into Union Over Stoppage


Two years after a bruising battle with unions, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne is again butting heads with workers at his company’s Italian factories, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Marchionne on Thursday canceled plans to shift 500 furloughed workers from a mostly idle Fiat plant in Turin to a nearby Maserati factory, according to a person familiar with the situation. Fiat has also shelved plans to use overtime at the same Maserati factory to meet booming demand for the luxury brand, the person said.

The executive’s decision comes a few days after 200 workers belonging to the Fiom metalworkers union held a one-hour strike at the Maserati factory to protest general working conditions. The strike led to 11 fewer cars being built, Fiat said.

The strike at the Maserati plant was “incomprehensible, irrational and unjustified,” Mr. Marchionne wrote in a letter published in Turin’s La Stampa newspaper. “The recent episodes, the result of the actions of a small minority, caused a loss in production in a very delicate moment and can’t be taken lightly.”

Fiom couldn’t be reached for comment.

Fiom has historically been the most combative of Italy’s three main metalworkers unions and was the only one of the three not to sign a national contract that came into effect at the beginning of 2012. While the other two large metalworkers unions, Fim and Uilm, have calmer relations with Fiat, they have in recent weeks also raised their voices because the national contract expired at the end of December and hasn’t been renewed.

Fim and Uilm chose not to strike on Monday. But in addition to the lack of a new contract, they are at loggerheads with Fiat over a one-off payment that is to be made to all workers. The company and the unions have agreed in principle to the payment, which comes in a year that salaries have been frozen, though they disagree on the amount. The unions initially asked for €390 ($529), while the company offered €200. Fiat has come up to €250 and the unions down to €300, though they haven’t reached an agreement.

“Negotiations must restart so we can clarify with Fiat what has emerged in the last few hours,” Federico Uliano, Fim’s national secretary, wrote in a statement. “We haven’t received anything written about the agreement [to shift the workers and make use of overtime] being revoked, so for us that agreement is still valid.”

Uilm also hasn’t received official word from Fiat, but several members working in the Maserati factory had been informed of the company’s decision, said Eros Panigalli, Uilm’s national secretary. He also called on Fiat to begin serious negotiations on renewing the national contract.

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2015 Collective Bargaining Between UAW, Detroit Automakers to Feature New CEOs and Union Leaders


Detroit, MI – The 2015 collective bargaining negotiations between the UAW and Detroit automakers should have some intriguing story lines, reported Michigan Live.

Besides the numerous issues expected to be a part of the talks, including raises and two-tier wages, the negotiations next year will include two new CEOs, two new union vice presidents overseeing the Detroit Three and two female trailblazers.

Cindy Estrada, a second-term vice president, will lead negotiations with General Motors Co. and its new CEO Mary Barra. Estrada, 45, is the first Latina elected to serve as an International officer. Barra is the first female to lead a major automaker.

“I think what we’re going to see when the two sides sit down together, people have the interest of making sure GM is successful as well as making sure workers share in those successes,” said Estrada, who, like Barra, downplayed gender having any significance. “I think that if we look at both of those together, we can only have success.”

During Estrada’s first term, she oversaw the union’s independents, parts and suppliers/competitive shop department; public sector and health care servicing department, and women’s department.

Newly elected UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell, who previously served as UAW Region 1C director (now Region 1D), will oversee Chrysler and lead negotiations with CEO Sergio Marchionne.

Jewell, a 56-year-old former GM worker, said he looks forward to helping lead the UAW with the new management team.

“I’m going to rely a lot upon the directors around the nation along with the vice presidents and Gary,” he said. “I know that the team Dennis has put together, there isn’t anything we can’t do.”

And Jimmy Settles, who was re-elected to his third term this week, will continue overseeing Ford Motor Co. But for the first time as vice president, Ford CEO Alan Mulally will not be at the bargaining table. The 68-year-old exec will retire effective July 1, and Ford COO Mark Fields will succeed him.

Settles, 64, said he expects little change between Mulally and Fields since the new CEO was involved with the previous round of collective bargaining as president of the Americas.

“I don’t see him as any different as dealing with Alan Mulally,” Settles said.

Williams and all the vice presidents were elected and sworn in earlier this week during the 36th UAW Constitutional Convention at Cobo Center in Detroit.

Williams’ successor is Gary Casteel, who was a regional director of a 15-state region in the south. He will oversee UAW finances, transnational organizing and Mitsubishi Motors.

When announcing the assignments, newly elected UAW President Dennis Williams said he could have put the three vice presidents in any of the positions “and felt comfortable.”

“These were thought out strategically because of what we were facing,” he said. “It had nothing to do with the CEO. It was about these peoples’ experiences.”

Casteel, 56, and the vice presidents ran unopposed. Williams, who served as UAW secretary-treasurer for the past four years, won in a landslide victory Wednesday over Gary Walkowicz of Local 600 in Dearborn. Williams received 98.5 percent – 3,215.969 of 3,270 – of eligible votes.

Williams said he knows the next four years will be challenging, but he and his team are ready: “I couldn’t be more pleased with the team I have,” he said. “I couldn’t have thought of anybody else that could do what we’re about to do.”

Those challenges, he said, include rallying for a presidential election in 2016 and an important round of contract negotiations next year with the Detroit automakers.

During the last round of collective bargaining agreements with the Detroit automakers in 2011, UAW officials opted for the promise of jobs and profit-sharing checks rather than wage hikes. But now, judging by comments from Local delegates during the convention, members will push for raises and an end to the current two-tier wage system that started in 2007.

“We’re all committed to eliminating the two-tier wage system,” said Williams, using the term “bridge the gap” in society and membership to discuss the union’s challenges.

The majority of UAW members have not received a raise since 2005. Under the union’s current two-tier wage system, traditional workers – the majority of UAW members – make about $28 an hour. Entry-level UAW members start at $15.78 an hour and increase every 12 months up to $19.28 an hour.

Williams, as many leaders before him, also faces an uphill battle regarding so-called “right-to-work” laws and membership numbers. The UAW’s membership has significantly decreased over the last decades as factories become more automated and 24 states, including Michigan, have passed “right to work” laws that allow employees to decide for themselves whether or not to join or financially support a union.

Williams’ election comes a day after delegates approved a controversial monthly dues increase for its members. The increase – the first for the UAW since 1967 – raises monthly payments from two hours of pay per month to two and a half hours.

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UAW Elects New Union President; Dennis Williams Wins 98.5% of the Vote


Williams succeeds Bob King, who was well respected by members and automotive executives since his election in 2010.

Before being elected secretary-treasurer in 2010, Williams also served UAW Region 4 Director for nine years. Region 4 includes Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Williams’ election comes a day after delegates approved a controversial monthly dues increase for its members. The increase – the first for the UAW since 1967 – raises monthly payments from two hours of pay per month to two and a half hours.

There was not an official vote count. Following a somewhat close vocal “aye” versus “nay” vote, King called for a hand vote and declared that “the ayes certainly have it.”

According to the UAW, the increase represents an additional $10 per month for the average member and generates an additional $45 million per year, all of which goes to the strike fund, which was renamed by delegates as the International Union Strike and Defense Fund.

As of last year, the strike fund was at almost $627 million. It was once at more than $1 billion, which King said he would like to see again. According to UAW documents, the strike fund had a year-end high of more than $914 million in 2005. Since then, it has decreased on average about $287 million a year.

The 36th UAW Constitutional Convention, held every four years, started Monday morning. It continues through Thursday at Cobo Center in Detroit.

Williams is expected to give his inaugural address as president Thursday during the convention.

Gary Casteel, who ran unopposed, was elected by acclimation to replace Williams as Secretary-Treasurer.

Other elections included the re-elections of vice presidents Cynthia Estrada and Jimmy Settles and Norwood Jewell of UAW Region 1C (now Region 1D) replacing General Holiefield as the third vice president. The vice presidents ran unopposed and were elected by acclimation.

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UAW Approves First Dues Increase Since 1967


DETROIT, MI – Monthly dues for UAW members will increase for the first time in nearly 50 years, reported MichiganLive.

Following a more than two-hour debate Tuesday during the 36th UAW Constitutional Convention in Detroit, union delegates from UAW local unions in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico voted to approve a 25 percent increase in dues – making dues the equivalent of two and a half hours of pay per month instead of two.

There was not an official vote count. Following a somewhat close vocal “aye” versus “nay” vote, UAW President Bob King called for a hand vote and declared that “the ayes certainly have it.”

The room was clearly divided during the discussion, which included 40 people – 20 from each side – arguing their side of the debate. At one point, King, who served as moderator, had to ask delegates not to use items, such as clickers, when those against the dues increase were speaking.

Those opposed to the increase argued that it is not the right time, as the majority of members have not received raises in nearly a decade, and it could lead to a decline in membership – particularly due to many states, including Michigan, becoming so-called “right-to-work” states that allow workers to freely opt out of unions. Many also argued that rather than just the 1,100 delegates at the convention voting, all of the UAW’s roughly 391,500 members should vote on the increase.

“I agree with the dues increase, but I don’t think it’s the time,” said Rich Boyer, of UAW Local 140 in Warren, Mich. “This membership is divided. If we increase these dues now and don’t go to the bargaining table and get significant increases in wages, we are in trouble.”

Part of that divide, is due to the union’s current two-tier wage system – another controversial debate at the convention – that includes entry-level UAW members starting at $15.78 an hour and increasing every 12 months to $19.28 an hour, as traditional workers – the majority of UAW members – make $28 an hour on average.

Delegates in support of the increase argued that the UAW needs to have a strong Strike Fund going into contract discussion with the Detroit automakers next year and that it’s about time for members to support the union through a dues increase. “The UAW is the only organized union that has not been raised in almost 50 years,” said UAW Local 140 President Mark Dickow during the open discussion about the dues increase. “It’s about time.”

The dues increase — the first for the UAW since 1967 — is to help replenish the union’s “Strike Fund,” which as of last year was at almost $627 million. It was once at more than $1 billion, which King said he would like to see again.

According to UAW documents, the Strike Fund had a year-end high of more than $914 million in 2005. Since then, it has decreased on average about $287 million a year.

The Strike Fund, according to King, has slowly shrunk over the years due to the economy and union leaders opting to use the funds instead of increasing membership dues.

“We’re at the point now where we don’t think that’s the wisest decision,” King told reporters Monday, a day before the vote.

King, who urged support of the increase on Monday, has said the Strike Fund “serves as a deterrent” and makes sure corporations know that the UAW has the resources to strike if needed.

With approving the dues increase, which was “Article 16” of the convention, members also voted to transferring $85 million from the “Emergency Operations Fund” to a newly created VEBA trust; transferring $25 million of the Strike Fund to the “International Union General Fund” in June; allowing leaders to use up to $60 million from the Strike Fund over the next four years to support major organizing drives or other initiatives intended to increase UAW membership; and other smaller financial measures related to dues.

Samanttha Price, of UAW Local 12 in Ohio, opposed Article 16 not only because of the 25 percent dues increase, but also questioned why leaders want to take money out of the Strike Fund if it’s so important.

“If we want to build up a Strike Fund, let’s build a Strike Fund and leave it alone,” said Price, a 19-year UAW member.

The UAW’s membership has significantly decreased over the last decades as factories become more automated and 24 states, including Michigan, have become so called “right to work” states, allowing employees to decide for themselves whether or not to join or financially support a union.

During King’s tenure, membership has increased in each of the last four years, including an increase of 9,000 in 2013. While a far cry from its 1.5-million peak in 1979, it’s going in the right direction. Today, the UAW has about 391,500 members.

The dues cost of two and a half hours per month will be reviewed during the 37th UAW Constitutional Convention in 2018.

The 36th UAW Constitutional Convention, held every four years, started Monday morning. It continues through Thursday at Cobo Center in Detroit.

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