UNITED AUTO WORKERS UNION PRESIDENT Bob King says the labor group will seek to re-establish pattern bargaining among the Detroit Three auto makers during the next round of negotiations, set to begin in earnest this summer.
Long a bargaining tool of the UAW, pattern bargaining is designed to create labor parity between, and by crafting similar contracts.
Due to the bankruptcies at GM and, the three auto makers have dissimilar deals. The most significant disparities are the non-strike clauses in the GM and Chrysler agreements, a restriction not contained in the UAW's contract with .
King does not disclose details of his plan to reinstate pattern bargaining. It was outlined recently to senior UAW leaders during closed-door meetings in Detroit at the 2011 Special Convention on Collective Bargaining.
But King promises the UAW will seek to get back all the concessions it granted auto makers during the global recession. He takes particular aim at the 2-tier wage structure, which pays entry-level workers about $14 an hour, far below that of tenured employees.
Economic hardship forced the UAW's hand. “But now that's over,” he says. “Our job is to shorten the gap of when entry-level workers go to full wages.”
King admits it “will take a while to get back what we gave up,” noting the declining membership of the UAW has stripped it of much of its power. Still, he vows to “fight for everything we can get.”
King softens his stance when discussing benefits of the 2-tier wage system, noting it had the “unexpected positives” of returning to the U.S. some jobs that were outsourced to low-wage operations.
King riles the assembled UAW members by taking aim at Ford CEO Alan Mulally, who recently received millions in compensation and bonuses. Despite the downturn, the auto maker has booked billions in profits over the last several quarters.
King says Mulally does not deserve such compensation when the auto maker employs temporary workers who have yet to be hired full-time.
In addition, King says he is pursuing the establishment of a global union network to support workers employed by Chrysler and its Italy-based partner,. “Building a global middle class is a win-win for all workers.”