High unemployment has forced US unions to accept contracts that offer lower wages for new hires and agency staff than for the existing workforce at companies like General Motors, Chrysler and Caterpillar. At one Harley-Davidson plant, for example, permanent staff earn $31 per hour. New hires receive $25, which will be the wage for all permanent staff once the ‘veterans’ have left the company. Casual workers get $18.50 per hour.
A United Steelworkers official representing workers at Harley-Davidson calls the deal ‘absolutely a surrender for labour’. Manufacturing firms have for decades tried to introduce ‘tiered’ contracts that differentiate between existing workers and new hires, but so far unions would only accept them for limited periods to cope with hard times.
Source: New York Times