Local union boss on GM talks: 'They're forcing this upon us'

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The leader of the 650 unionized workers at the General Motors stamping plant in Indianapolis says he did not authorize negotiations over wage cuts meant to entice a potential buyer of the plant, contrary to what another union official said Wednesday.

But negotiations for a new wage contract will proceed anyway, according to Maurice "Mo" Davison, an Indianapolis representative of the International United Auto Workers, which is based on Detroit.

At stake in the middle of the union feud is the future of the GM plant on the west side of the White River. The Detroit-based automaker plans to close the plant in September 2011. Illinois-based JD Norman Industries wants to buy the plant, but only if workers agree to wages and benefits that are about half what they’re receiving now.

Davison told IBJ on Wednesday that Greg Clark, chairman of UAW Local 23 at the GM plant, “requested” that the International UAW negotiate a new labor agreement that local union members could then vote up or down.

But Clark called a news conference Thursday morning at the Local 23 union hall to clarify that he didn't agree to new negotiations because his members already voted a month ago not to do so.

“I won’t come back and ask them to do anything,” Clark recalled saying at a meeting Wednesday at U.S. Rep. Andre Carson’s office, which included Davison, JD Norman founder Justin D. Norman and some of Carson’s staff members. “We stand by the May 26th vote.”

That's when Local 23 members voted overwhelmingly to reject any negotiations with JD Norman, Clark said. According to the UAW constitution, he added, no one, including him, has the authority to go against that vote.

But Davison said that’s not how the meeting played out.

“Greg Clark said he wanted an agreement brought back” for the local members to consider, Davison insisted. “We’re going to honor that request.”

Clark said the pressure on him to allow negotiations to proceed has been intense. Since Local 23’s vote on May 26, he has received a voice message from Gov. Mitch Daniels and a call from Indiana Secretary of Commerce Mitch Roob. Both said jobs at half pay is better than no jobs, Clark said.

Also, Carson has talked to Clark and called the meeting on Wednesday.

“They’re more or less forcing this issue upon us,” said Clark, a 31-year GM veteran. “And we don’t want it.”

The workers at the GM plant accepted a two-tier wage structure in 2007 that pays existing GM workers $29 an hour plus benefits, but starts any new workers at $14.65 an hour, plus benefits.

During an all-employee meeting on June 22, Clark said, Justin D. Norman said he wanted to pay the GM stamping plant workers a total of about $25 an hour in wages and benefits, which is about half what veteran workers like Clark currently receive, all told.

Clark said he and the union members didn’t like that.

“We simply felt right now that we’ve given enough back to GM,” he said, adding, “Enough’s enough.”


  • both sides
    i have worked white collar and blue collar in union and non union. everyone here seems to have and agenda. matt cmon man. get informed. do you know what it really takes to run a 4 ton press. i leave the math out of it but lets just talk about the labor. 109 degree heat, on your feet all day, covered in sweat, dust and oil. but hey their just running a press. its bc of companies in the first place is why there are unions. i buy American bc i dont crap where i eat. now for the union side. you need to wake up as well. the union does not protect the good hard working man or woman. it protects the lazy piece of crap. the funny thing is the hard working people get the shaft and the hard jobs while the loads get to skate. try sitting in a pit all day long bolting in gas tanks for 12 hours. so here is an idea. for both types. get informed, write a thesis then form your opinions. but then again opinions are like a-holes. everybody got one
  • Short memories
    How many of the union slammers commenting here had a parent who worked in a union factory or office and because of the wages bargained for, they were able to live a middle class life, go to college, etc? Now, they want to deny workers of today that same dignity. They want to say someone earns $50 an hour, knowing that's a lie because never have we added benefits into the figure of hourly wages. That's Republican, anti-worker propaganda. No one ever mentions benefits (monetary value of health insurance) when they discuss management's salaries. Why is that?

    As GM goes, so goes the nation, and the nation has suffered from a mentality that says blue-collar Americans no longer should be valued in our economy. They are expendable, transferrable. They're lives aren't important. What's important is that we allow rich people, by all means, to remain rich. We did this by allowing a situation where profits are privatized, but losses are socialized. As a country, we turned our backs on our manufacturers, and dare to act surprised when we turn around again, to find them all gone, save for a few, hanging on by their fingernails.

    It's really sad.
  • Compromise?
    I understand why the current union members do not want to take this deal when they can get transferred to another GM plant at their current pay. Why can't the UAW offer to let them take the current jobs offered, but remain eligible for call back at other GM plants at full pay? I cannot see how they could not be replaced at a later date, and the new owner would have experienced workers to start with.
  • Enough's enough
    Maybe Mr. Clark has a point. In his mind, enough is enough. And late next year, he'll find himself unemployed somewhere around $8/hr in unemployment benefits. I would like to see Mr. Norman purchase the place, shutter it and restart a short time later without the union presence. There's more than enough folks in Indianapolis to think for themselves that don't need the union puppetmasters at the controls.
  • All's well and good
    Janice had a wonderful observation about union complacency and seemed dead-on, until she brought up the stuff about merging Christianity with the government. Aren't there any people out there who appreciate both a free market and secular America?
  • All's well and good
    Janice had wonderful observation and seemed dead-on until she brought up the stuff about merging Christianity with the government. Aren't there any people out there who appreciate both a free market and secular America?
  • ???
    I feel like I'm missing something here. If another company buys the plant then would the new owner be obligated to honor the UAW contract?
  • Big Deal
    Obama's government owns GM. The Union is going to get whatever it wants no matter how many tax payer dollars have to go into the coffer to make it happen.

    Welcome to the New Amerika. It is here, and it's not going away.
  • Norman should offer the jobs to whomever wants them. I am sure there are thousands of qualified people out there who would jump at the chance to work there.

    I know a lot of well paid execs who have taken cuts in pay and pride to feed their family.

    What I think the Union is doing is they know if the plant closes, the most senior will be offered jobs at $29 an hour in other cities. So they are looking out for themselves, and not their younger coworkers or the community they live in.
  • Let the market decide
    It's a free market, so let's fire them all and let the market decide the value of each position rather than outdated union cronies. That's how other companies determine their pay structure.

    Precedence will obviously be given to experience and skills where they're needed, thus driving up the pay appropriately.

    Wake-up call: The Union no longer owns or controls GM. Fair market value is the only equitable method for this taxpayer-owned company.
  • Furthermore....
    I own a business. One of my employees told me a while back that she was sad for her brother who was losing his job at a plant in Kokomo. I told her he'd find another job. She laughed and said, "not like this one!" This assembly line worker averaged $123,000 per year plus benefits. I asked her how that was possible. She said the UNION!! She said they never get their work done to meet deadlines so that they are allowed to work overtime. They work 7 days a week on overtime! The use the system and the Unions encourage that! As a matter of fact, if anyone trys to be productive, they are picked on and made miserable by their co-workers. And guess what? Obama wants more unions! Why? Because he gives them sweet deals as long as they vote for him! We are headed for a worse economy and country than all of history.When are all the Dems going to wake up and realize that there is no free ride without giving up your freedom. We're very close to that now. No prayer in schools; No 10 commandments posted in public places; don't say Merry Christmas as it will OFFEND people.....

    As Nakita Krushchev said and read this carefully: Ã?¢ââ??¬Ã?â??Your children will live under communism.Ã?¢ââ??¬Ã?Â? Khrushchev said.
    Ã?¢ââ??¬Ã?â??On the contrary,Ã?¢ââ??¬Ã?Â? Secretary Benson replied, Ã?¢ââ??¬Ã?â??My grandchildren will
    live in freedom as I hope that all people will.Ã?¢ââ??¬Ã?Â?
    Khrushchev then retorted: Ã?¢ââ??¬Ã?â??You Americans are so gullible. No, you wonÃ?¢ââ??‰â??¢t
    accept Communism outright; but weÃ?¢ââ??‰â??¢ll keep feeding you small doses of
    Socialism until you will finally wake up and find that you already have
    Communism. We wonÃ?¢ââ??‰â??¢t have to fight you; weÃ?¢ââ??‰â??¢ll so weaken your economy,
    until you fall like overripe fruit into our hands.Ã?¢ââ??¬Ã?Â?

  • Unions
    The union will hopefully get what it deserves and Norman passes on sale.I have worked all my life without a union and would quit if my work ever joined.Since the GM bailout and the Government rolling over for the unions I will never buy another union made product and this is from a life long GM driver
  • Uneducated / Lazy / Overpaid
    Someone union please explain to me why ANYONE should pay $50/hour in wages & benefits to someone who just stamps metal parts? It's not something that requires investment from the employee in terms of education, and it's not a job for which able workers are scarce. So what's the reasoning for the out-of-proportion wages? Get a clue, accept competitive (read: appropriate) wages for the job you perform, or watch as your job becomes outsourced to another country. Don't expect the world to shed a tear over the job losses incurred by the overpaid and underskilled.
  • Just as an FYI...
    ...Mitch Daniels makes $95,000. With benefits and over time that's probably about what a rank and file union member makes, and Mitch probably works harder.

    Tom Cream BTW makes $600,000 (followed by the Purdue pres., the IU pres., the IU athletic director, the BSU pres. and the BSU football coach - see if any of them will work for 1/2 pay.)
  • Suck it Up, Union Boys
    Well, it' about time that this eye-opener finally came around. Unions were obsolete a long time ago. They use to serve a good service, but now are corrupted and bleed companies dry. Not for the benefit of the workers, bye the way.

    I'm not sure what they thought they were voting for in May. They really don't have a say in the matter. If there are no provision, then the plant closes and no one has a job. Duh!

    If they choose to "strike" (laugh) in the event of sell with lower wages, then those who do will be replaced very quickly. What arrogance! We're no talking about jobs that require rocket scientists or a degree. Take this part and move it over there several hundred times a day. I think that there are many unemployed folks who would jump on to take one of those jobs.

    I do hope that the plant is acquired by someone and used, though. I hate seeing the local economy suffer and people losing jobs. However, I do hope that the people who truly care to work hard will get or remain in those jobs.
  • Saving your jobs......
    I agree with Janice 100%
    I have a great job, no union and I have managed to keep employed for the last 16 years without "help" from some idiots that claim to "help" employees. Unions keep LAZY people employed!
  • Fools
  • Snort!
    The UAW should be grateful that Norman is offering them the opportunity to keep their jobs. They COULD just buy the plant, and hire off the street, as it were - thus removing the union altogether. Nothing says the new company HAS to honor the UAW as a bargaining agent, merely that the Union can request recognition IF the company hires 50% + 1 of the bargaining unit. BTDT - got the letter of rejection from the new company.
  • Saving your jobs......
    I agree with Janice 100%
    I have a great job, no union and I have managed to keep employed for the last 16 years without "help" from some idiots that claim to "help" employees. Unions keep LAZY people employed!
  • Saving your jobs......
    I agree with Janice 100%
    I have a great job, no union and I have managed to keep employed for the last 16 years without "help" from some idiots that claim to "help" employees. Unions keep LAZY people employed!
  • Saving your jobs......
    If you guys are not willing to negotiate a pay cut to save the plant and your jobs, you should be unemployed! Oh wait, you're UAW and that means you get paid even if you don't work..... there lies the problem. The typical disincentive to employment. Unions should all be busted. No need anymore except to screw the employers and raise prices on what you make. It's sickeing!
    • Unions still exist?
      Unions were created to give people fair employment rights (no more sweatshops with children working). Labor laws have replaced the need for the UAW. And to "Chris in Indy," the middle class salary in the USA is in the $35-65K/year range. $25/hr is $52K. We are talking about people performing jobs that can be learned in a matter of months with little to no education getting paid $80K+/year while highly educated nurses, teachers, and others who provide much more value to our communities are making less than what your "concession" would be at $52K/year. Think about that. If you had to give up one of these three things, which would it be: your kids' education, your health, or your car?
      Regarding gapman's comment, "the truth is hard to find when no one trusts GM or the UAW" I would add "or the GOVERNMENT." How about Mitch Roob, the governor and those inflated new jobs numbers.
    • Middle Class Assault
      So the middle class gets assaulted again through a manufacturing fire sale. The 'American Dream' continues to die.
    • REALLY
      These union guys are killing me with their complaining. YOU HAVE A JOB...Be happy about it. If you weren't WAY overpaid, you might not have to give up something.
    • Would Daniels?
      Would "My Man Mitch" take a 50 percent salary cut? Or a cut in is "sweetheart deals," investments and so on? Hey, half pay is better than no pay, right?
      • UAW 23
        As of right now and not when the original vote was taken without facts the Indy Metal Fab plant UAW Local #23 is divided among its membership. The truth is hard to find when no one trusts GM or the UAW.

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