DETROIT, June 2 (UPI) -- The United Auto Workers, set to own a major share of the U.S. auto industry, may be reluctant to push for profits over protecting jobs, labor experts said.
The UAW has agreed to exchange billions of dollars of healthcare obligations into 17.5 percent ownership of a smaller restructured General Motors Corp. and 55 percent of Chrysler LLC, both of which are in bankruptcy proceedings.
"The reason we've received this equity stake is we're trying to help the corporation survive and fund the volunteer employee benefits association," local union president Brian Fredline told The New York Times Tuesday.
That requires keeping an eye on profits. But, "we don't run corporations, we represent people," he said.
"They'll want to maximize the number of jobs for their members, and they'll use their influence for that," said Sean McAlinden, chief economist with the Center for Automotive Research.
McAlinden said the union could influence the company boards to buy parts from suppliers who use organized labor.
Traditionally the protector of jobs, "I don't think the union is going to act that different," said Harry Katz, dean of the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
"I wish it would, but mostly things won't look that different," he said.