Do UAW Union Bosses Speak for Their Members?

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Union bosses claim they are working for the benefit of their members.  While United Auto Workers (UAW) bosses called for a strike, their members obeyed, but the cost for rank and file may be more than they thought, considering how much investigation of UAW bosses’ corruption is costing them.  Nolan Finley has the story in the detroitnews.com

. . . the strike, now into its second week, isn’t about protecting the jobs and lifestyles of manufacturing workers — the contract GM put on the table would improve both. The work stoppage is all about saving the fannies of UAW President Gary Jones and other top union leaders caught up in an ongoing corruption scandal.

UAW autoworkers are the elite of America’s blue collar workforce. With overtime and shift differentials, the average union worker at GM earns about $90,000 annually.

For each of the past four years, GM has issued profit sharing checks of more than $10,000 to its union employees. That’s a dandy annual windfall for someone saving for retirement or college. In comparison, for the one-third of American workers who share in profits, the average check is $2,000.

Owners of the company reap just $1.67 a year in dividends per share. A GM stockholder would have to hold more than 6,000 shares, or roughly a quarter million investment, to get as large a piece of the profit pie as an union employee.

UAW autoworkers are among the rare group of employees in this country who still get pensions, which they can collect after 30 years on the job. They also have near fully paid health insurance (they cover 3% of their health care costs, compared to the national average of 30%). And the coverage carries into retirement.

The deal the union walked away from would have raised base wages by 4% over four years, while adding 4% in bonus money in addition to the $8,000 signing bonus to be paid on ratification of the contract. The package would have given workers extra cash totaling roughly 20% of their base pay.

It’s the best contract offer the UAW has seen from an automaker in a decade. But again, it’s not about the money. It’s about the corruption.

Strikers should feel betrayed that their indictment-dodging union leaders are costing them more than $1,000 a week to deflect the heat of the FBI probe. Instead, they’re aiming their outrage at GM for shifting the cost of their health care to the union and its $700 million strike fund.

But most of the country’s laborers would change places with the GM autoworkers in a heartbeat.