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UAW talks continue as contract deadline approaches

Sep 3, 2015

UAW President Dennis Williams chats with GM CEO Mary Barra at the kickoff of the 2015 contract negotiations.
Credit Jeffrey Sauger / General Motors

Just a week and a half from now, the United Automobile Workers contracts with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will expire.

In a recent column for The Detroit News, Daniel Howes points out some some things that set these talks apart from years past.

Howes says that for one thing, it’s pretty quiet this time around.

“In the past we would have UAW presidents take to the airwaves … and call out, in some cases, executives by name,” Howes says.

According to Howes, there was also concern surrounding how social media platforms were going to be “used or abused” throughout this contract session.

“So far, it really hasn’t. It hasn’t whipped up a lot of false controversies and problems,” he says.

He tells us that UAW President Dennis Williams can take a lot of credit for the calm, businesslike attitude surrounding the contract talks.

Howes says Williams is bringing his decade of experience as director of Navistar International Corporation to the table.

“He’s been inside the board room. He sees how things are done, how mistakes are made, how mistakes are fixed. And he’s brought some of that mindset to running the UAW, and that’s very different, and I think the people inside the auto companies are really reacting positively to it,” Howes says.

One of Williams’ goals is to address health-care costs by utilizing a pool health-care plan, according to Howes.

Howes tells us that Williams’ pool health-care plan would place all active and salary workers into one health-care pool, granting the union more buying power.

“Dennis Williams’ take on this whole thing is it’s ‘our money,’ meaning it’s money set aside for UAW health care, and therefore we need to have a bigger stake in managing it,” Howes says. “And one of the things he’s trying to do is get economies of scale, meaning the more bodies that he’s got in that pool, the more pricing power he has in the marketplace.”

Daniel Howes tells us more about Williams’ approach and goals throughout the contract talks, and what to expect as we enter the home stretch in our conversation above.