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Auto talks collapse over wages

Published: Fri, December 12, 2008 @ 12:10 a.m.

An adviser for Sen. Voinovich said the matter is now in the hands of the White House.


WASHINGTON — A $14 billion emergency bailout for U.S. automakers collapsed in the Senate on Thursday night after the United Auto Workers refused to accede to Republican demands for swift wage cuts.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was “terribly disappointed” about the demise of an emerging bipartisan deal to rescue Detroit’s Big Three.

He spoke shortly after Republicans left a closed-door meeting where they balked at giving the automakers federal aid unless their powerful union agreed to slash wages next year to bring them into line with those of Japanese carmakers.

Republican Sen. George V. Voinovich of Ohio, a strong bailout supporter, said the UAW was willing to make the cuts — but not until 2011, when its contract expires. The Detroit-based Big Three automakers each employ thousands in Ohio.

Voinovich senior adviser Chris Paulitz said the issue is now legislatively done and is in the hands of the White House. He said the failure to reach a deal has deeply disappointed the senator.

“He is terribly disappointed. He has worked for a month to come up with some sort of compromise. Now, we have to pray the White House comes up with something to keep these companies afloat,” he said.

Reid was working to set a swift test vote on the measure Thursday night, but it was just a formality. The bill was virtually certain to fail to reach the 60-vote threshold it would need to clear to advance.

Reid called the bill’s collapse “a loss for the country,” adding, “I dread looking at Wall Street tomorrow. It’s not going to be a pleasant sight.”

The implosion followed an unprecedented marathon set of talks at the Capitol among labor, the auto industry and lawmakers who bargained into the night in efforts to salvage the auto bailout at a time of soaring job losses and widespread economic turmoil.

“In the midst of already deep and troubling economic times, we are about to add to that by walking away,” said Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., the Banking Committee chairman who led negotiations on the package.

Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the GOP point man in the talks, said the two sides had been tantalizingly close to a deal, but the UAW’s refusal to agree wage concessions by a specific date in 2009 kept them apart.


1Tugboat(759 comments)posted 7 years, 5 months ago

Too many decisions affecting us all are made by too few people. The centralized banking and financial behemoth has remained untethered and unresponsive. They've made easily avoidable dumb decisions, and they want us, we the people, to bail them out. Exalted captains of industry are reduced to stumbling titans groveling for the common folk to save them. Anyone surprised there is massive, bipartisan angry resistance?

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2tll3023(35 comments)posted 7 years, 5 months ago

Oh well! ONe loaf of bread is better than no loaf of bread. They better realize that the world as we knew it is over, everyone is cutting back and they need to too. They need to do it NOW not in a couple of years. If they are not willing to loose alittle to gain something, then they deserve to have NO JOBS, like plenty of us. They better think what they are doing, you know how many people that would be willing to work for 1/2 of what they are getting, many people ( and I am one of them) that would love to have a job right now ( I lost mine) making even 14.00 no benefits, get rid of all them and rehire under new management and see the the people that would run to work there.. WAKE UP GM!!!!

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3JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 7 years, 5 months ago

It didn't have the votes from the GOP regardless of the UAW's stance on wage cuts last night; the union could have conceded anything and everything and they still wouldn't have gotten the votes. Lawmakers from the south have a vested interest in the failure of American auto makers. States like TN will concede a single Saturn plant because they have commitment from foreign companies to build six plants.

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4wolfrun1(100 comments)posted 7 years, 5 months ago

What part of No does wagner not understand

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5NoBS(2680 comments)posted 7 years, 5 months ago

Despite the workers' wages making up anywhere between 7% and 10% of the price of a car, there are still a bunch of jealous, envious whiners here who wish they had the wages and benefits the Lordstown workers do. But they don't, so, as the thinking goes in the Mahoning Valley, "If I don't have it, NOBODY should have it!"

Why should the bailout leave the people in place who made the bad decisions and got the auto industry where it is today? Get rid of the upper management!! Do that, THEN talk to the rank and file about more concessions, if you still need them. Show everyone that you're serious about wanting the company to prosper, not simply using this opportunity to break the unions.

There was some talk about demanding the rank and file workers accept a pay and benefit package more in line with those of Honda, Toyota, BMW, and so on, workers. That's fine - but do the same with the executives! See who cries the loudest!

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6MinisterD(25 comments)posted 7 years, 5 months ago

JeffLebowski said-
"It didn't have the votes from the GOP regardless of the UAW's stance on wage cuts last night; the union could have conceded anything and everything and they still wouldn't have gotten the votes. Lawmakers from the south have a vested interest in the failure of American auto makers. States like TN will concede a single Saturn plant because they have commitment from foreign companies to build six plants."

The fact of the matter is, they didn't make the concessions. So regardless of the futility of their efforts, they could have at least MADE THE EFFORT. Let both the members and the American people know they were willing to put the interest of the economy ahead of their own interests.

Did they really think they could just take a stance against the government the way they take a stand against the Big 3, and get a desired result? The Big 3 need the workers. The Senate does not. Are they going to strike on their taxes now? I am actually impressed that the senate didn't give them the finger along with the resounding no. We have to tighten OUR belts, but they still get what they want? That was just selfish.

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7paulydel(1573 comments)posted 7 years, 5 months ago

It sure is funny how people want to attack the union when if not for the union some of you non- union workers wouldn't be making the money your making. I've worked both ways butin the non-union shop I recieved a Christmas bonus because the company was a small steel mill but treated us like family. I worked for GM in Lordstown and I said years ago that they should have offered profit sharing but they were greedy and could care less about the line workers. You want to place blame put it where it belongs right at the top. Why can a small bearing company in Chicago or up in the Northeast sell their companies and give their faithfull employees a nice bonus check for the years they worked there but a big company like GM is only concerned for their white collar people?

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8LJBrunner(1 comment)posted 7 years, 5 months ago

First of all I am a UAW worker for 25 years and I work hard for what I got.They need to start at the top and work there way down the ranks,nobody deserves to make millions a year NO matter what they do.The auto workers have taken consations for years,but you don't see the prices going down at the grocery store and the gas prices are still up.( I remember when gas was a 10 cents a gallon)(bread was cheap) now it's over 2.00 a loaf.It's time the government looks at the whole picture and work from there.It wouldn't hurt them to take a pay cut and see what it is like to live like the rest of us.

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9DRDAVE1965(80 comments)posted 7 years, 5 months ago


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