Saturday, October 18, 2008

UAW President Opposes GM and Chrysler Merger!

UAW president opposed to any GM-Chrysler merger

United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger said Tuesday he would oppose a merger between General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC because it would cost workers their jobs.

The union president said the UAW has not had formal discussions with either automaker about the two companies combining, but he would be against any consolidation.

"I personally would not want to see anything that would result in a consolidation that would mean the elimination of additional jobs," Gettelfinger said on a Webcast run by WWJ-AM in Detroit.

Gettelfinger said the union has done a lot to help GM, Chrysler and Ford Motor Co. survive by giving health care concessions in 2005 and with a new contract last year that reduced the automakers' production costs.

GM and Chrysler's owner, Cerberus Capital Management LP, have discussed a merger or acquisition of Chrysler by GM. The talks have been shelved during the financial crisis but could be revived.

Gettelfinger also said that he tells UAW members to stay focused on the quality of the products they build as the industry faces unprecedented upheaval and the automakers struggle with slumping sales, mounting debt and a slowing global economy.

Gettelfinger said he was devastated by GM's announcements Monday that it would close a metal stamping plant near Grand Rapids by the end of next year and move up the end of sport utility vehicle production in Janesville, Wis., to Dec. 23. The moves affect more than 2,500 hourly workers.

"Any time we see a facility go down, we suffer with the people because we know the impact that it's going to have on their lives," he said.

The UAW president said he does not think the housing crisis has bottomed out yet, and he said that has a big impact on pickup truck sales. The key to recovery, he said, is to free up a frozen credit market so people buy vehicles again.

U.S. auto sales in September fell to their lowest level in 15 years, due in part to a lack of credit availability for many buyers. GM's finance arm, GMAC Financial Services, said Monday that it has tightened its criteria for consumer automotive financing by requiring credit scores of 700 or more, and restricting the length of loan terms.

Gettelfinger also predicted that union membership will grow because he said unions are needed today during tough economic times.

"Workers need a voice," he said. "A union is the only instrument that brings any form of equity and justice to the workplace."

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