UAW plans to shore up bottom line

July 20, 2011 at 12:36 PM

DETROIT, July 20 (UPI) -- It isn't asking too much for U.S. autoworkers to make it to the middle class, United Auto Workers Union President Bob King said.

"It is a very legitimate goal that everybody working in the auto industry should be at a middle-class standard of living. Entry-level, for a family of four, is barely there," said King, referring to the $14 to $16 per hour starting wage for factory workers, which the union agreed to in 2007, as the auto industry was in a prolonged slump accentuated by the economic recession.

The Detroit Free Press said Wednesday King was headed toward contract negotiations with Ford, General Motors and Chrysler with the mindset of keeping the companies competitive, but not backtracking on wages or benefits.

"It doesn't do our members any good if we raise fixed costs, and that means our vehicles cost more and we lose market share and then job security is in jeopardy again," King said.

However, with all three companies in the black for the first quarter of the year, including $3.2 billion in earnings at GM and $2.6 billion at Ford, King also said, "There is no justification for any further concessions in this round of bargaining."

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