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UAW President Outlines Six Main Concerns Amidst Apparent Apathy

April 13, 1987

CHICAGO (AP) _ Job and income security are among the main concerns facing the United Auto Workers union as contract talks with the nation’s two top automakers near, UAW President Owen Bieber says.

In a speech Sunday before about 3,000 delegates at a four-day strategy convention here, Bieber outlined six concerns but stressed the loss of U.S. jobs as the main threat facing autoworkers and all workers employed in the industrial sector.

For the next three days, delegates will hone Bieber’s six points into guidelines that negotiators will use in drawing up the union’s demands during contract talks at General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co.

The contracts expire at midnight Sept. 14. Talks are scheduled to begin in July. Sometime in September, union leaders will choose a strike target, the company from which they believe they can win the sweetest terms.

The concerns outlined by Bieber were:

- Job and income security. ″Guaranteed employment is a concept whose time has come,″ he said, calling loss of jobs in the shrinking U.S. auto industry ″economic capital punishment.″

- Slowing the bleeding of U.S. union parts and other jobs by auto companies who buy or hire instead from non-union or foreign sources.

Bieber called GM’s Chevrolet ″Heartbeat of America″ advertising theme ″the sound of a triple bypass.″

″GM bypassed America to go to Japan for subcompacts. GM bypassed America to go to Korea to produce their mini-car. And GM wants to bypass America to go to Mexico for many of their A-cars (Chevrolet Celebrity and its clones in other GM divisions),″ he said.

- Increases in base wages and a return of regular annual raises based on increases in productivity as well as a restructuring of the formula that gave workers no share of GM’s $2.9 billion in 1986 profits.

″Workers at General Motors and Ford have not had an increase in their base wages since 1984″ when their last contracts were negotiated, Bieber said.

- Sweetening of early retirement programs so older workers will be encouraged to leave and make way for younger workers.

- Reduction of overtime and overall working time per worker to create more jobs, a call which might go unheeded among workers who can credit large amounts of overtime for their comfortable standard of living.

- Increasing corporate accountability through increased U.S. investment, establishing price policies that make U.S. products attractive to domestic buyers, and fighting for legislation controlling trade and halting plant closings in the United States.

Bieber also demanded that the automakers ″back off from pressuring communities for tax concessions under threat of plant closings.″

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