North Texas autoworkers say they're willing to give contract concessions

Fort Worth Star-TelegramDecember 4, 2008 

DALLAS — If the choice is between having a good-paying job to go to every day or not having a job at all, United Auto Workers union members at General Motors’ Arlington assembly plant say they're willing to make major contract concessions.

GM workers demonstrating in front of Sen. John Cornyn's Dallas office Wednesday voiced strong support for UAW leaders, who were meeting in Detroit to discuss contract changes that would lower U.S. auto manufacturers' costs and, they hope, pave the way for government loans.

The GM employees, all with two decades or more with the company, said giving up some job-security provisions and even other concessions is preferable to the uncertainties of a bankruptcy filing if the company runs out of cash.

"Now that we’re going through hard times, it's time for everybody to make concessions," said Charlotte Yeatherman, a 28-year veteran at the Arlington assembly plant.

The GM workers were reluctant to talk much about specific contract changes, saying they trusted the union leadership to work with the company and make the right trade-offs.

In Detroit, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said the union will suspend the jobs bank, in which automakers continue to pay laid-off workers up to 95 percent of their salaries, but he did not give specifics or a timetable.

Members of Congress criticized the automakers last month for paying workers who are not on the job.

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