UAW International President Gary Jones GM Handshake Ceremony
July 16, 2019
Detroit Marriott Ambassador Ballroom 10:00 a.m.
Good morning UAW Brothers and Sisters, fellow UAW board members and the members of our great bargaining councils.
Good morning members of the GM leadership. Mary, thank you for coming to this important event.
I’d like to start by recognizing the hard work of the UAW GM Department, led by my Brother and friend, Vice President Terry Dittes, and the members of the GM national negotiating committee.
It is an honor to be here today on behalf of the greatest workforce in the world, my UAW family. The dedicated, hard-working men and women who, day in and day out, get the job done.
UAW members have been the backbone of General Motors for more than 80 years.
They are the loyalest of employees.
They are your most loyal customers.
And they have supported General Motors through thick and thin.
They have believed in this company and have exclusively purchased the cars and trucks they have made with their hearts, hands and minds.
So, today I come with a message from my UAW Brothers and Sisters.
From the men and women who built the products that gave GM record-setting profits for the past years.
In fact, GM is the most profitable of the Big 3 in North America since the 2015 contract negotiations.
That message, which I have heard … loud and clear from our members is:
JUST AS THE UAW’S WORKERS HAVE BEEN THERE FOR GM, OUR UAW BARGAINING TEAM IS CHARGED WITH MAKING SURE THAT GM WILL BE THERE FOR THEM.
We all know that we have seen a Race to the Bottom over the past several years for working men and women in this country.
Cuts in benefits, retirement security in jeopardy, job loss, wage loss, more and more temporary workers, shipping our jobs to Mexico and China. And outsourcing our good General Motors jobs to other companies paying lower wages in the United States.
So, what I want to say today and what I want GM’s leadership to hear is: With this year’s negotiations, we will halt that Race to the Bottom.
We will protect this workforce, their jobs and their way of life.
We go into this bargaining season at a time of plenty.
We will hammer out an agreement that values our contributions and looks, with GM, to a prosperous future.
And as we look to 2020 and beyond, I want to make it clear that the UAW is committed to building the products and the manufacturing and automation processes of the future.
Our membership is standing strong.
And my Brothers and Sisters are ready to do whatever is necessary to get the contract that, in this time of record profits, they DESERVE.
So, I’ll remind us all of something we’ve been saying since last November when GM announced they planned to close four plants:
WE INVESTED IN YOU, NOW IT’S YOUR TURN TO INVEST IN US.
I’m sorry to say that GM has the fastest shrinking footprint here at home in these United States of America.
Speaking on behalf of my Brothers and Sisters, know this: We will leave no stone unturned to protect our Brothers and Sisters at the locations put on the block.
We call on GM to keep these plants open and allocate more products on American soil. It can be done.
In fact, just recently, GM announced a $150 million investment in the Flint Truck plant and the addition of 1,000 jobs.
And 400 new jobs that will be added at the Lake Orion plant.
And $900 million and a full shift in Bowling Green for the new mid-engine Corvette.
The UAW enters this bargaining session in good faith that GM will continue to move forward on this made-in-America course.
For our part, our Sisters and Brothers are ready for the new technologies that will redefine the auto industry in the decades ahead.
We will bargain hard to ensure UAW members are provided with the training, the tools and the safe environments to, as always, more than keep pace with the industry’s advancements.
And we will take up the issue of Progression and shorten that eight-year window.
I will tell you that the UAW is excited to be part of the evolving workforce: EV propulsion and energy storage; autonomous vehicles and related components, new mobility businesses and joint ventures.
We welcome progress and our role in that progress.
That is also why we need to address the issues of temporary workers and outsourcing.
So, as we kick off 2019 negotiations today, and I say to everyone listening and everyone in this room:
We are the voice of the American worker,
The defenders of the Middle Class
AND WE ARE READY TO TALK!
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