Killing Jobs with "Cooperation": the GM Memo
[Excerpt] As the UAW and General Motors prepare for difficult negotiations for a 1984 national contract, a leaked document by GM's Vice-President of Industrial Relations Alfred Warren has severely embarrassed both company and union officials. The memo outlines a presentation made by Mr. Warren to GM Personnel Directors in October, 1983, and describes GM's bargaining strategy and basic labor policy. The company's goals include elimination of the cost-of-living allowance and productivity pay, and the institution of benefit co-payments; the elimination of local work rules and the expansion of outsourcing; the initiation of a two-tiered wage system; and the expansion of profit-sharing. The memo reveals that GM hopes to eliminate 80,000 to 100,000 jobs by 1986. To achieve these objectives, GM plans to elicit employee cooperation without surrendering traditional management rights. It hopes to replace formal bargaining with a "continuous agreement" and plans to launch a sophisticated public relations campaign to mold public opinion and to pressure the UAW into submission. So comprehensive and disturbing are GM's plans that UAW President Owen Bieber, who supported concessions in 1982, has said that the "document supports many of our worst suspicions about the motives and intentions of the General Motors Corporation." The implications of the document are far-reaching: American labor can expect employer belligerence in the foreseeable future.
Labor Research Review
Volume & Issue:
Vol. 1, Num. 5
labor movement; United Autoworkers; UAW; General Motors; GM; productivity; layoffs