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question everything Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-11-07 10:54 AM
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Honda and UAW Clash Over New Factory Jobs
The Wall Street Journal

Honda and UAW Clash Over New Factory Jobs
Residency Rules Exclude Most Union Members; Indignant in Indiana
October 10, 2007; Page A1

ANDERSON, Ind. -- When Honda Motor Co. announced last year that it was building a new plant amid the farms of southeastern Indiana, Hoosiers cheered. Then Honda announced in August that only people living in 20 of the state's 92 counties could apply for jobs -- a move that excluded most of the state's thousands of unionized laid-off auto workers. Honda's unusual hiring restriction highlights an often overlooked aspect of the United Auto Workers union's declining power. While Detroit's big auto makers and their unionized suppliers have been slashing jobs, wages and benefits, foreign car companies have added U.S. plants and created thousands of new automotive jobs. Yet they have effectively kept auto workers with UAW membership cards out of their factories, hampering the union from gaining any foothold where the jobs are.

Of the 33 auto, engine and transmission plants in the U.S. that are wholly owned by foreign companies, none have been organized by the UAW, despite repeated attempts. Mainly, foreign auto makers have located plants in Southern states where the UAW has little presence and where right-to-work laws limit union power. When they have ventured into Northern states such as Indiana and Ohio, they have mostly chosen rural locations far from any unionized plants and UAW halls. The moves now are helping the foreign-owned plants begin to lower wage scales. In the case of Honda's latest plant, in Greensburg, Ind., the company received $140 million in tax breaks and other incentives, at least $50 million of it in statewide funds. But the company wasn't required to consider all state residents for jobs.


Honda spokesman David Iida said the Greensburg hiring policy is not intended to prevent union members from applying. The auto maker just wants workers to live within an hour's drive of the plant so they can get to work on time even in bad weather, he said. The area does include a UAW-organized plant in Indianapolis and one organized by the International Union of Electrical Workers in Connersville, both of which closed and together idled about 1,500 people. Honda won't accept applicants from outside the hiring zone who would be willing to move into it, Mr. Iida said, because that could slow down Honda's "aggressive launch schedule" to start production in late 2008.


Some states have required that companies benefiting from government incentives spread the rewards broadly. Indiana didn't. A spokeswoman for Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said that Honda, as a private company, is free to define its hiring process as it wishes. The first-term Republican, known for dissolving the unions representing state employees after his election, didn't discuss the hiring policy with Honda while negotiating to bring the plant to Greensburg, the spokeswoman said; he was just pleased to have jobs come to Indiana.


A racial-discrimination argument defeated a hiring policy Honda used in the 1980s when it expanded two plants in rural Ohio and gave preference to applicants who lived within 30 miles of the facilities. That excluded residents of Columbus, the nearest large city to both plants, with a large African-American population, while the population within the hiring zone was overwhelmingly white. Honda settled a complaint by the EEOC by paying 370 black and women workers $6 million and offering them jobs. In Greensburg, Honda is working hard to encourage minorities to apply for jobs, said company spokesman Jeffrey Smith. Indianapolis was specifically included in the hiring zone to open the door to African-American applicants, he said, and Honda invited black leaders to the groundbreaking and has advertised in minority newspapers. The Greensburg plant, he added, "will be a diverse and inclusive workplace."


Corrections & Amplifications:

Honda Motor Co.'s Greensburg, Ind., plant is the auto maker's fourth in the U.S. Hourly wages at the plant will start at just under $15 an hour and rise to $18 over two years. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said the Greensburg plant is Honda's sixth in the U.S. and that wages at the plant would rise to $18 over three years.

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monktonman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-11-07 11:17 AM
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1. The decling power of UAW????
If the UAW is soooo weak, why does Honda locate plants as far away from traditionaly
stong union communities?

Also, this puke governor is going to hand over 50 million Indiana tax payer dollars
to a multi billion dollar foriegn owned company and call it an "incentive."
All the while working to snatch food from the mouths of children and call it
"welfare reform."
Republics make me ill.
Am I missing something here?
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Tafiti Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-11-07 11:44 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Nope, that's about right.
I just moved from Indiana...its economy was in really bad shape when Daniels was elected (really tight with Bush-naturally). When Honda came to these areas, apparently nobody looked closely at the deal because everyone was just excited to add quality jobs to the state. It's no surprise he gave a Honda a sweet deal to make sure they came to Indiana, so that he could get a lot of credit. It was brilliant really, because Indiana is pretty red (65/35 R/D in last general election), so there is no shortage of people who swallow, for example, Rush Limbaugh's anti-union vitriol wholesale, so they think unions are a product of Satan and the evil liberals. This story will be met with yawns there I'm sure.
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