Monday, March 30, 2009 at 7:48 PM
Under the conditions outlined yesterday by President Obama for continued federal help to GM and Chrysler, union employees will be asked to make further contract concessions. In recent years autoworkers at GM have agreed to several rounds of wage and benefit rollbacks, and are loathe to give back more. But the head of one GM union local says the survival of the domestic auto companies trumps just about every other consideration. ideastream's Bill Rice got these reactions from around Northeast Ohio to Mr. Obama's directive to the domestic auto companies.
Jim Graham is president of United Auto Workers Local 11-12 in Lordstown – home of one of GM’s largest manufacturing complexes. Graham feels UAW workers have been, and continue to be, unjustly demonized in the minds of much of the American public for demanding and getting too much in wages and benefits. But at this point, with both GM and Chrysler under the gun to deliver plans to stay viable, Graham says all that doesn’t matter so much.
Graham: "People will say what they will, but the bottom line is to make sure General Motors is safe because that’s the last big part of the manufacturing base in this country. Without manufacturing we will raise corn for China."
But Graham is still among those critical of President Obama’s hard line toward the companies. He says its unfair that GM CEO Rick Wagoner lost his job while presidents of banks receiving bailouts get to keep theirs.
GM has sixty days to submit an acceptable plan to President Obama before bankruptcy becomes the only option.
Meanwhile, The mayor of Twinsburg – where about 1000 people work at Chrysler’s stamping plant – says she’s hopeful a proposed alliance with Italian automaker FIAT comes through. If it does, she says, the Twinsburg plant stands a good chance of surviving as well.
Prokop: "We have one of the most modern stamping plants in the country. They've put more than 600 million dollars into that plant in the past dozen years. We have European technology there, European-grade technology. And I have heard that the representatives from Fiat Were very impressed with what they saw here in Twinsburg."
Chrysler has just 30 days to submit a viable business plan.
Bill Rice, 90.3.