These bailed-out workers took a real hit:
Among workers building the Jeep Grand Cherokee here, there are few obvious distinctions. Clutching lunch sacks and mini-coolers, they trudge together through the turnstiles at the plant’s main gate each day to tinker with the same vehicles, along the same assembly line, performing the same tasks. Yet they fall into distinctly unequal classes: About half make $28 an hour or more, while the rest, the recently hired, make $14. This oddity, which could become the norm in much of the domestic U.S. auto industry, arises from the jury-rigged labor agreement that the United Auto Workers, U.S. automakers and the federal government reached during the industry’s near-death experience last year.
“The idea of the UAW and the steelworkers negotiating so that workers could make it into the middle class, of allowing them to make it as manufacturing workers — that is all gone,” Gary Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark University. “And it’s difficult to see how they will be able to find their way back.”
The two-tier agreement “effectively ends many of the principles established 70 years ago in the UAW’s birth,” Bill Parker, a negotiating committee leader, wrote in an unusual dissent. “For years, the UAW embodied industrial unionism and the gains of the New Deal. So goes the UAW, so goes the American middle class.”