Monthly Archives: September 2015

Autoworkers reject Chrysler contract, saying they want a bigger piece of the industry’s recovery

By Lydia DePillis

Tony Stephens, Ford Local 900 member, protests the provisions of a tentative contract reached with Fiat Chrysler, outside the UAW Solidarity House in Detroit, on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (David Coates/The Detroit News via AP)

In a rare move, Fiat-Chrysler’s 40,000 workers appear to have rejected a new contract deal in votes that will end today, demanding the return of what they sacrificed during the Detroit Three automakers’ darkest days.

They included Brian Keller, who was one of the lucky ones.

After leaving the Navy, he got hired at Chrysler as a housekeeper in 1999, right after the merger with Daimler had sent market expectations soaring. Even when the company’s fortunes declined and it outsourced its housekeeping work in 2007, Keller got another job picking parts at Mopar, a Chrysler subsidiary.

Now, he makes $28 an hour — about $9 more than most people hired after the United Auto Workers agreed to a lower rate for new recruits, helping the company weather bankruptcy and emerge healthy on the other side.

But Keller expected the reductions to be temporary, and for the union to negotiate a return to equal pay for equal work. The division is unhealthy, even for those in the privileged “Tier 1.”

“It’s demeaning,” Keller says. “You got people who are working side by side with you who are working half what you make, and can’t even afford the product that they build. It makes it hard for them.”

That’s partly why he campaigned against the union’s tentative contract with Fiat Chrysler of America — and why the rest of the membership agreed, defeating the proposal by a resounding margin. That means the union could go back to the bargaining table with Chrysler, take a break and turn to GM or Ford — or mount the auto industry’s<a class="colorbox" …read more


Academics received $55 million to serve on health care company boards in 2013

By Carolyn Johnson

Signing up for coverage is one thing. Paying for it is another. (Flickr/CC)

(Courtesy of Flickr user 401(K) 2012 under a Creative Commons license.)

Craig B. Thompson leads one of the country’s most prestigious cancer hospitals, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. But noticeably absent from his online biographical sketch is his position as a director of one of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies, Merck, where over the past four years, he’s received more than $1 million to serve on a board charged with the mission “to represent and protect the interests of the Company’s shareholders.”

A new study shows Thompson is far from alone. Nearly one of every 10 board positions at health care companies were held by an academic-affiliated person, ranging from medical school deans to hospital heads to professors, according to an analysis of 2013 data published in the British Medical Journal Tuesday.

In an age where even relatively small, one-time payments from pharmaceutical companies to doctors have come under intense scrutiny because they may skew prescribing practices or research, the study reveals that some of the most well-paid and influential leaders in medicine are sitting on the boards of publicly traded health-care companies, where they are richly compensated.

“These people who are on boards are among the most famous, the most sought-after academics in the country. At the same time they are making very large incomes, based on their positions, so what they’re doing is simply padding their incomes, with a lot of extra money,” said Jerome Kassirer, editor-in-chief emeritus of the New England Journal of Medicine. “I think it’s a bad idea, and I think it’s widespread.”

For years, it’s been known that academics served on drug company boards, but the new study chronicled just how prevalent and remunerative these relationships are throughout the health care industry. The board members received $193,000, on …read more