United Auto Workers Lash Out at GOP Senators Over Bailout Collapse

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The head of the United Auto Workers union lashed out Friday at Senate Republicans -- Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, in particular -- blaming them for scuttling the $14 billion auto bailout package approved earlier in the week by the House.

GOP objections stalled the measure in the Senate Thursday night. Republicans put  pressure on the powerful autoworkers union as they tried to squeeze out concessions in exchange for their support.

"This was just simply subterfuge on the part of the minority in the Republican Party who wanted to tear down any agreement that we came up with," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said at a press conference, declaring "the auto industry around the world is in peril."

Intense negotiations broke down over the union's refusal to meet GOP demands for wage cuts. Corker, the architect of the Republican counterproposal to the House-approved bill, told FOX News that negotiators were "just three words away from a deal."

But Gettelfinger said Republicans were holding the union to a "double standard" and trying to applying an undue burden on their workers.

He questioned whether Republicans had an ulterior motive, but said the union was nevertheless willing to negotiate.

"Quite frankly, we wondered if we were just being set up," Gettelfinger said. "And I say that because there's no question the UAW has demonstrated leadership throughout this process, and there were some in the Senate who we felt resented that. "

He said bankruptcy for the Big Three automakers is not an option.

Corker rejected the accusations, telling FOX News the union simply refused to offer a date by which they could be competitive with foreign automakers who have plants in the United States.

"I was stunned that they would walk away from a deal to put these companies on an incredible footing, a healthy footing for their employees for years to come," Corker said.

The senator complained that the UAW pay scale is "far higher" than at other plants in the United States, particularly those of foreign automakers.

In terms of hourly wages, the pay scales are similar. For instance, General Motors says the average UAW laborer makes $29.78, while Toyota says it pays about $30 per hour.

The difference is in the benefits, however. GM's hourly labor costs (including pensions and health care) total $69 for active workers. Toyota's total about $48 per hour at older U.S. plants.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.