So much for our defining moment of a labor-capital showdown in an age of globalization. Barely two days after it started, the UAW strike appears to be over. But in exchange for taking over management of a colossal health care trust, the union's gains from the walkout don't immediately strike one as substantial.
As an inducement to signing a deal, UAW members will get a direct "signing bonus" payout of $3000, along with further lump sums during the remainder of the contract, but there's also a provision ensuring no wage hikes for the duration of the deal. And according to the Detroit News, workers will give up cost-of-living increases in exchange for no increase in medical premiums. Workers at jobs not currently directly related to automobile production (such as janitorial work) will now earn hourly wages between 12 to 15 dollars, instead of $28.
As for the "job security" provisions that UAW President Ron Gettelfinger had made the primary reason for the strike?
UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said the union "got the job security guarantees we were looking for," but did not offer specifics.
Perhaps the most telling comment on the deal came from a worker on the picket line, again reported by the Detroit News, in an article titled "Anger absent on the picket line."
"I hope the UAW is viable after this," Butterfield said. "And I hope GM stays a viable company because they are a big part of the Michigan economy."
There's no triumph in this deal. Just resignation.