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Bailout terms would force UAW surrender

DETROIT, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- The Detroit automakers bailout would force the surrender of the United Auto Workers to the non-union labor movement of the U.S. South, analysts say.

A provision of President George Bush's $17.4 billion federal loan agreement to keep the domestic auto industry afloat states that wages and benefits for union workers must be lowered to "equal" the average of non-union workers at the southern U.S. plants owned by Nissan, Toyota and Honda, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

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Acceptance of those conditions by the UAW would be tantamount to a stunning capitulation for organized labor in the United States, some observers said. The wage concessions could force average wages down to $24 an hour from $28 an hour, and would reduce compensation to workers who have been laid off, experts said.

Trimming wages "down to the level of foreign companies undermines the meaning of having a union in the first place," David Montgomery, emeritus professor of labor history at Yale University, told the Post, saying the deal would essentially erase significant distinctions between union and non-union auto workers.

It's unclear if U.S. President-elect Barack Obama will hold the companies and the unions to Bush's requirements, the newspaper said.

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