The AP reports that The United Auto Workers said Wednesday it is willing to change its contracts with U.S. automakers and accept delayed payments of billions of dollars to a union-run health care trust to do its part to help the struggling companies secure $34 billion in government loans.
According to the report, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said the union will suspend the jobs bank, in which laid-off workers are paid up to 95 percent of their salaries while not working, but he did not give specifics or a timetable of when the program will end.
Members of Congress criticized the automakers last month for paying workers who are not on the job. About 3,500 auto workers across the three companies are currently in jobs bank programs.
One local union member who was in the meeting said the changes to the jobs bank would nearly eliminate the program. The member asked not to be identified because the details had not been made public.
Such concessions are difficult for any union, but especially so for the UAW. Granting such considerations shows just what bad shape our domestic auto industry is really in. The moves made this week may be just the wake up call that was needed to save thousands of jobs and the industry.