On Sunday night, 49,000 General Motors union employees and members of the United Auto Workers went on strike throughout the United States; shutting down 33 manufacturing plants and 22 distribution warehouses across the country. It is the first strike against G.M. in 12 years. The 2015 collective bargaining agreement expired September 15, and members of the UAW opted to strike at midnight on Sunday. According to the UAW, autoworkers are calling on the Big 3 (GM, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler) to recognize the contributions and sacrifices that the company’s UAW members have made to create a healthy, profitable, industry.
The G.M. Council consisting of local union leaders, announced that the membership strike would continue to secure:
- Fair Wages
- Affordable Healthcare
- “Fair share” of Profits
- Job Security
- A Defined Path to Permanent Seniority for Temps
“We stood up for General Motors when they needed us the most. Now we are standing together in unity and solidarity for our Members, their families and the communities where we work and live,” said UAW Vice President Terry Dittes.
President Trump took to Twitter today scolding the UAW and demanding that the two parties reach an agreement.
Here we go again with General Motors and the United Auto Workers. Get together and make a deal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2019
In 2009, President Obama orchestrated a $49.5 billion-dollar financial bailout of GM after the company filed for bankruptcy. Per the terms of the bailout, the American government (funded by taxpayers) equated to a 61% equity stake in the company. The United States Treasury gradually sold off its stock in GM, selling its last shares in December 2013.
In 2014, the U.S. taxpayers lost more than $11.2 billion as a result of the federal bailout of General Motors, according to government reporting. The Center for Automotive Research said in 2013 that the taxpayer bailout of G.M. saved 1.2 million jobs and avoided the loss of $129.2 billion in personal income in 2009 and 2010. Of the $78.2 billion the U.S. Treasury spent bailing out the auto industry through the Troubled Asset Relief Program, $58 billion was repaid.
Since being bailed out by American taxpayers, the Big 3 automakers have filed records profits, and provide 97% of employee healthcare costs. Also, while the UAW is demanding higher wages for its workers, the average salary across the board for UAW members per hour is higher than most other wages across the nation.
G.M. on average pays $63 an hour for its factory workers, while Ford pays $61 and Fiat Chrysler is at $55. On average, according to the Center for Automotive Research, G.M.’s labor costs per vehicle last year was $2,700.00 – about $100 more than Ford and $180 higher than Fiat Chrysler. Also, Union leaders, earlier this year received a 31% annual salary increase.
So, despite the UAW demanding higher wages and other incentives, the American taxpayers are still owed $14.1 billion of the $49.5 billion loans in 2009. To date, the Treasury Department still maintains 113 million shares of G.M. stock left to sell. To break even, the U.S. Treasury would have to get about $125 per share for its remaining shares. But, GMS’s stock is currently trading at around $36. At the current prices, the Treasury’s remaining stock is worth a little over 4 billion. With near 10 billion dollars needed to repay the Americans citizens completely, our citizens should join the bargaining table and demand full repayment of the 10-year-old loan before additional profits or expenditures are even considered. Record profits should equate with record repayment of long-term debt; it has been ten years, today would be an excellent time to complete that!