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Honda, UAW clash over new factory jobs in Indiana, residency rules exclude most union members

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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-11-07 05:33 PM
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Honda, UAW clash over new factory jobs in Indiana, residency rules exclude most union members

Residency rules exclude most union members; indignant in Indiana
Neal E. Boudette, Wall Street Journal
10 Oct 2007 05:35

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.

Margaret Ward is one of the people excluded. The UAW member spent 10 years assembling car components in Anderson, just outside the Honda hiring zone. Along with about 1,500 other people, she lost her job early this year when a former General Motors Corp. lighting factory closed, the last of three auto-related factories to close in Anderson. After spending six months on unemployment assistance, she's working at a battery plant. "I don't feel like this is fair to anybody in this area, to anybody in the state," she says.

Under the National Labor Relations Act, companies cannot discriminate against workers because of affiliation with a union. They are, however, allowed to restrict hiring to certain geographical areas if they have a legitimate business reason for doing so, a spokeswoman for the National Labor Relations Board said. UAW officials are gathering information in hopes of filing official complaints with the NLRB or possibly the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

FULL story at link.

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SharonAnn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-11-07 05:48 PM
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1. Honda does that intentionally to avoid union members and minorities.
They did that in Ohio, too. That was alleged to be to avoid hiring minorities.
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