| DETROIT, June 5
DETROIT, June 5 Newly elected United Auto
Workers President Dennis Williams warned major U.S. automakers
who negotiate with the union next year that he supports the
financial health of the companies, but that "enough is enough"
when it comes to concessions.
Veteran UAW auto workers at the three major U.S. automakers
have not received a raise in nearly a decade and in recent
contract talks the union allowed the creation and expansion of a
two-tiered wage structure.
"It's our time," read most of the T-shirts worn by UAW
delegates at the union's convention in downtown Detroit, which
Williams echoed in his inauguration speech.
"No more concessions. We are tired of it. Enough is enough,"
Williams yelled into a microphone in front of nearly 1,000
As the major U.S. automakers General Motors Co, Ford
Motor Co and Chrysler, now a unit of Fiat Chrysler
Automobiles, endured a downturn of the auto industry,
the UAW said it needed to take concessions to make the companies
As Bob King, whose term as president ended this week, said
often, UAW members have the most invested in the health of the
companies, and acted to make them whole. Now, all three
automakers as well as agricultural equipment makers like
Caterpillar are profitable.
"I want to work closely with the companies as long as it
doesn't hurt our members," said Williams. "I do not like
confrontation, but I'm not afraid of confrontation."
While he said the UAW will not allow more concessions,
Williams did not mention the two-tiered wage scale during his
speech. Such a system pays veteran UAW workers at the major
automakers about $28 per hour while newly hired workers at the
same plants make less than $16 per hour.
Earlier at the convention Thursday morning, President Barack
Obama addressed the delegates by recorded video. He cheered the
work of King and welcomed Williams. He said he is close to
Williams and that the new UAW president was one of his first
supporters at the Iowa Caucus in 2008.
Williams also called on UAW members to get out the vote to
maintain a Democratic White House in 2016 and said it was time
to "bridge the gap" between the rich and poor in the United
Williams, 61, elected by landslide vote on Wednesday by the
delegates, has said he will only serve one four-year term as
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)