Detroit Free Press: Marick Masters on GM job security

Made in America tops the list of sticking points to be resolved between the UAW and General Motors to get to a tentative contract agreement. For the 46,000 UAW members in the fourth week of nationwide strike against GM, a promise that the company will build upcoming vehicles in U.S. plants equals job security. Securing promises of jobs over the four-year life of the next contract is so important for the union that labor experts say no other contract win will matter without it. "Nothing else matters if you do not have job security," said Marick Masters, director of labor at Wayne State University. "GM's decision to close several plants in November is what set the stage for these tense and prolonged negotiations. Any solution requires addressing job security." GM would be reluctant to commit to building all of its future products in U.S. plants because of uncertainties over demand, the pace of developing electric vehicles and self-driving cars and shifting consumer preferences, said Masters. "The letter from (Terry) Dittes suggests that solving this predicament is key to ending the strike," said Masters. "The solution will require that the parties think outside of the box to flow more production to the U.S. for products for which there will be a clear demand." Masters said creating a bigger role for UAW workers in the production of new technologies is one possible solution. Also, GM partnering with other companies to expand its production portfolio to include new technologies is another way to create more jobs, he said. "Both sides are placing bets on the future," said Masters. "What they must do is find a path to good-paying job growth in a changing industry. For this to occur, trade-offs are necessary. There is no easy sell."

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