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Dissidents say UAW gave away too much

David Barkholz covers IT and labor for Automotive News.
DETROIT -- UAW dissidents complained after yesterday’s opening day of the UAW National Constitutional Convention that they were not given an opportunity to be heard.

But Gary Walkowicz, who’s running on an opposition platform for president against Bob King, took to a public microphone right away this morning to criticize union leadership for going too far on concessions during the recent auto recession.

Walkowicz used convention rules to make a statement on a resolution calling on the union to fight to rebuild a more just economy in the United States. He said that giving back hard-earned wages and benefits ran against the idea of building a just economy.

He said a two-tier wage for new hires that pays $14 an hour, a concession made to the Detroit 3 in 2007, barely exceeds a poverty wage for a family of four. He said workers at that wage “can’t afford the cars they build.”

Walkowicz ended his comments, limited to three minutes by convention rules, by saying that he opposed the resolution because the UAW itself has not done enough to fight for a just economy.

Walkowicz is running against King to use his candidacy to raise issues at the convention. King is expected to be elected to succeed Ron Gettelfinger during Wednesday’s officer elections.

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