UAW: Union Workers Should Be Given Credit for Concessions

By Jennifer Parker

Dec 7, 2008 10:16am

The president of the United Automobile Workers said he’s "hopeful" Congress and the administration will be able to pass a federal loan to Detroit automakers this week.

"We would not have been in Washington if we didn’t need assistance in the industry, and I fear a collapse of General Motors and possible Chrysler and it could have a very negative impact on Ford," Ron Gettelfinger, president of the UAW, said in an exclusive interview on "This Week."

Union leaders will appear before Congress this week to bolster the automakers’ appeal for a bailout.

Asked about President-elect Barack Obama’s comments this morning that the industry, including labor,  doesn’t have a sustainable business model Gettelfinger argued the union has made numerous concessions to the automakers over the years.

"When you look from the standpoint of the UAW, in ’05 contract we went to first base," Gettelfinger said, "In ’07 we went to second base. Just this past week, we went to third base — nobody else is even in the ballpark yet. So what we need to do is get everybody together to talk about what it is about needs to be accomplished. And we’re willing to do that, we’ve made that clear more than once and we’ve repeated that over and over."

Asked about comments by members of Congress that union members wages and benefits need to be brought more in line with more profitable automotive companies overseas, Gettelfinger said, "I’m not sure exactly what we mean by ‘bring wages in line,’" he said, "Even going back to ’06 it was stated that some of the companies, at least one of them, that the wages were better than what the UAW members were making."

Gettelfinger said the union wants all of the stakeholders to come together to talk about what "sacrifices" everyone can make across the board.

"We all have to get in the same room together: board members, management, suppliers, dealers, creditors, and the equity holders. Get in there together and all make equal sacrifices," he said, "I think the men and women of the UAW who have worked so hard to help these companies succeed, have made numerous concessions up to this point in time, and we should be given some recognition and some credit for that."

–George Stephanopoulos

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