October 28, 2019—I would like to offer my sincere, heartfelt congratulations to the UAW members and strikers at GM who recently achieved a new, good contract at GM. It was not without sacrifice and struggle, but I think the results were worth it.
Although the new contract was not perfect, it contained significant gains for the workers. Unfortunately, three U.S. factories will be closing. The five-week strike was unable to prevent these plant closures. Still, UAW negotiators were able to obtain respectable wage increases, lump-sum payments, and a signing bonus, according to the Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC, 10/26/2019, p. 5A). Health care costs were held steady at a low level of workers’ share of costs, at 3%, according to Jamie L. Lareau, writing for the Detroit Free Press, as published on-line at the Charlotte Observer website, charlotteobserver.com, on 10/25/2019. In addition, a pathway to permanent status was introduced for temporary workers; this change marked a significant gain in terms and working conditions for the union.
Membership of the UAW at GM ratified the contract in rank-and-file voting on Friday, October 25. One worker and striker, Tricia Pruitt, at a GM transmission plant in Romulus, Michigan, said the economic gains were worth the five weeks out on the picket line. She felt “ready to return to work,” however, by the time of voting on the contract, according to Tom Krisher, Associated Press writer, in the Charlotte Observer (10/26/2019).
I congratulate Tricia Pruitt, all the workers at GM in the UAW, and the UAW itself for a job well done. You deserve the economic gains you have won for yourselves in your employment at this profitable company.
I would like to note that management at GM takes credit, also, for delivering a good contract to their workers, and for agreeing to substantial investments in U.S. operations going forward, as well, according to the Detroit Free Press article, cited above. GM management deserves credit for settling the strike with a good deal for the workers, after all was said and done, also.
Negotiations were described as “prolonged” and “sometimes-contentious,” but the final deal represented “a big win for UAW-represented workers at 55 GM facilities in 10 states” who had been out since September 16, according to Lareau, citing UAW leaders and labor experts in the Detroit Free Press article (10/25/2019).
Once again, congratulations to the UAW and to the rank-and-file who ratified the contract.
In other news, the Brexit saga continued in the U.K., in a story that refuses to end. The latest from Britain is that the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has won a vote on his re-negotiated Brexit deal, in principle, but his timetable and his call for new elections for parliament have been rejected. Meanwhile, the European Union has granted an extension until January 31st, 2020, for the U.K. to leave the EU. These facts are reported in the Wall Street Journal (10/23/2019, p. A1), and by the Associated Press in the article, “EU delays Brexit to Jan. 31; Johnson election bid fails,” published on the website of the Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC, 10/28/2019), at charlotteobserver.com. Unless Brexit politics in London become so toxic as to move from the merely dysfunctional, where they are now, to the downright nasty, then the prospects of a no-deal Brexit have dimmed, I think, in favor of the British parliament taking more time to consider and, hopefully, to approve a Brexit deal.
Three years ago, in 2016, I published my opinion on this blog in favor of Remain, not Leave, at the time of the referendum in the U.K. I acknowledged that my side lost the vote, however, and so I argued that the U.K. government should enact the results of the vote, and should deliver on Brexit. The title of my post is “The UK Votes to Leave the EU: My Perspective,” published on June 24, 2016, on this blog (nickpattifeatures.com).
Since then, there has been only delay, delay, and delay in the U.K. Parliament. Although I respect the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn’s reasons for rejecting the various attempts to enact Brexit, I think it is time to finish this work and bring parliament in line with the results of the direct vote in 2016. In the name of affirming EU labor and welfare laws, Corbyn is preventing the U.K. government from following the will of the people, as expressed in a direct vote. I think it would be wrong to hold a re-vote, but I agree with Johnson that the U.K. Parliament should deliver on Brexit. I believe that it would be worse to ignore the results of the 2016 referendum on the issue, which came out in favor of Brexit, than to stand up for the principles of workers’ rights, and then to ignore the outcome of the vote, and reject Brexit, based on the details of the actual plan. Corbyn’s position is described in an op-ed against his view, published in the Wall Street Journal (10/28/2019, p. A17). I come down against any further obstructionism, and in favor of just passing Johnson’s current Brexit plan, imperfect as it may still be.
Writing from London in the Wall Street Journal, reporters Max Colchester and Jason Douglas told of British citizens’ frustrations at too many general elections and at the prospect of a Brexit that never actually ends (10/26-27/2019, p. A8). “’I just want Brexit to be done and if push comes to shove, I will go for the Conservatives to get it done,’” Val Blatchford was quoted as saying, from Albans, England. He had voted for the Remain side in 2016, but since has changed his mind (10/26-27/2019, p. A8).
While I remain a supporter of Labour, I feel that voter’s frustration. I think parliament in the UK should deliver on Brexit, in line with the results of the 2016 vote.