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Faced with Economic Crunch and Management Squeeze, Unions Fight Back

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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-27-08 08:45 PM
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Faced with Economic Crunch and Management Squeeze, Unions Fight Back

http://www.alternet.org/workplace/115023/faced_with_eco... /

By Mischa Gaus and Mark Brenner, Labor Notes. Posted December 27, 2008.

As companies scramble to shore up profits, many are turning to a well-rehearsed script: ask union workers for concessions.

As companies scramble to shore up profits, many are turning to a well-rehearsed script: ask union workers for concessions. The supposed payoff ? Youll get to keep your job. In late November, the Teamsters announced a deal with Yellow-Roadway Corporation to crack open their contract and cut wages 10 percent.

The company claims it is the latest victim of the credit crunch, unable to secure financing for its large debts. Union officials warn that the company could fall into bankruptcy if concessions arent granted. If approved by the members, the wage cuts will stay in effect through 2013, when the contract expires. In exchange for concessions, the company has offered the union about 15 percent of the companys stock.

Were being bamboozled, said Mike Schaffer, a Roadway driver and member of Local 769 in Miami. Even if they come back to profitability, we dont get any relief. The union agreed to this lock, stock, and barrel.

But even profitable companies use turbulent times as an excuse to get the upper hand. In Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Essar Steel Algoma pressed Steelworkers (USW) Local 2251 for concessions in October, despite a record-setting third quarter where net income topped $146 million. The sheet-steel maker, whose products are sold to the construction and auto industries, insisted that workers agree to gut their contract. If not, the company threatened to lay off nearly a third of the workforce1,000 workersand build a new pipe plant elsewhere. Essars laundry list of givebacks would have clipped workers overtime and unemployment pay and steamrolled hard-won rights over job assignments and scheduling, as well as layoff and recall rights.
RIGHT FOR EVERY OCCASION

Management first developed the concessions formula during the downturn of 1980-1983. Since then, companies have stretched the argument for concessions to fit almost every situation. Whatever the problem, from global competition to rising health care costs, the solution is always making workers do more with less.

Companies are going to use these hard times to try to see what they can get out of us, said Cam Pucci, a steward in Local 2251 whos repaired and maintained machines at Essar for 30 years. They put the fear factor in, to see how far they can go.

FULL 2 page story at link.

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47of74 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-27-08 08:58 PM
Response to Original message
1. About damn time
It's about damn time the unions start standing up. No is the most wonderful word in the English language, and it's about goddamn time some corporations started hearing it from the people to working for them.
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