Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Strikes and the Harbingers of Strikes

Workers went out on strike at GM yesterday morning. Seems the UAW and management just couldn't find enough common ground:

Thousands of UAW members who work for GM walked off the job at 11 a.m. today — 9 days after a 4-year contract was set to expire. The contract had been extended hour by hour, until late last night when the UAW issued the strike deadline.

UAW Ron Gettelfinger said during a noontime press conference that the union will continue to negotiate with GM while workers picket.

“We were very disappointed in this round of negotiation to discover as we moved forward that it was a one-way set of negotiations. It was going to be General Motors way at the expense of the workers,” Gettelfinger said.

Of course, there are always two sides to every argument:

“We are disappointed in the UAW’s decision to call a national strike. The bargaining involves complex, difficult issues that affect the job security of our U.S. workforce and the long-term viability of the company. We will continue focusing our efforts on reaching an agreement as soon as possible,” Flores said.

The crux of the matter, according to the United Auto Workers, is that GM wants rollbacks and the UAW seeks assurances that jobs stay in the country.

So maybe we are in a time of union activism, who knows? The UAW hasn't staged a national walkout for decades. And in the entertainment biz (labor division) there is this:

TV writer and producer Michael Winship was elected president of the WGA East Friday, receiving 67.7% of the votes.

"I'm taking office at a critical time in the guild's history and will work on behalf of all of our members," Winship said. "Together, we will fight to get the too long denied respectful, fair and decent contracts for our members at ABC News and CBS News and work diligently and closely with our esteemed colleagues at the WGA West as we continue our MBA contract negotiations."

So labor militancy is rising on different fronts. I have the idea that everything is interconnected, that events and movements don't happen in a vacume but are tied to one another. People seemed to be bent out of shape for some reason...

The UAW strike against GM might point toward job actions this year or next in the movie and television industry. (Certainly, if SAG and the WGA walk out, it could impact employment in the 'toon business.)

I mention these things because forewarned is forearmed. In other words, hope for the best -- unbroken stretches of work -- and plan for the possibility of a strike.


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