DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- UAW President Bob King said workers' concessions helped save U.S. automakers and the employees should regain some benefits now that the industry is recovering.
“We want workers to share in the upside just like they did in the downside,” King, 64, told reporters Friday outside the gates of a Ford Motor Co. factory in Wayne, Mich. “Workers made a lot of sacrifices to help the industry survive.”
King was elected president in June, succeeding Ron Gettelfinger, 66, who helped persuade President Barack Obama to organize rescues of General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC last year. Workers have called for King to restore the wages and benefits they gave up to bolster the industry. Membership in the union has fallen to 355,000 from 1.5 million in 1979.
UAW members who work for U.S. automakers have each given $7,000 to $30,000 in concessions in the past five years, King has said. The union surrendered raises, bonuses and cost-of- living adjustments at GM, Ford and Chrysler. It also agreed to a two-tier wage system in which new hires earn about $14 an hour, half the amount paid to hourly production workers.
The union's current contract with GM, Ford and Chrysler expires next year.
The government should enact economic-stimulus measures that would put people back to work, King said.
Auto sales “are not going as well as they should,” King said. “Consumers are not going to buy vehicles if they don't have jobs or aren't confident in their job.”