Former union boss and current Kokomo mayor Greg Goodnight says he’s telling his union contacts to be ready to give ground on salary and benefit demands in order to stem possible job losses as four Chrysler plants prepare to shut down for a month. Goodnight says United Auto Workers officials must convince both lawmakers and their constituents that it’s best not to let Chrysler’s 9,300 Kokomo employees lose their jobs.
“If you’re going to ask taxpayers to use their money to help this industry, they have to show that they have eliminated any waste that may or may not be there and made sure that their benefits package is closer to what the people that are helping subsidize this are,” Goodnight says.
Goodnight says it’s also important union leaders do not simply ask for money without offering assurances their practices will change.
“If people see that they’re reasonable and that they are able to at least control some part of their own destiny,” Goodnight says, “It could help them out. But if people look at it that they were part of their own demise, they may look at [the automakers] differently.”
Chrysler had originally planned to have the factories sit idle for two weeks over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday, but the company changed that plan to a four-week break as a way to save money while lawmakers in Washington discuss a possible bailout for the Big Three Detroit carmakers.