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The UAW idled Chrysler's jobs bank earlier this week, and as of February 2, the UAW and General Motors will shut down the job bank it also maintains for its workers. GM is paying the 1,600 workers currently in the system 85% of their on-the-job wages. As of February 3, they will receive a measure of supplemental pay from GM and can apply for unemployment, the total of which should come to 72% of their former pay. The move potentially leaves Ford's jobs bank as the only one left running, but Ford

The UAW jobs bank is a kind of employment limbo in which workers get paid a portion of their salary but don't work while they wait for their job to open up again. Last year, there were about 3,500 people in this so-called bank of jobs. It is the kind of benefit that can perplex an outsider, because someone can remain in the job bank for years and still get a wage from the company, plus supplemental pay from the company, plus unemployment benefits, plus insurance.

As you read this, there are about 3,000 unionized workers -- down from about 15,000 two years ago -- employed by the Detroit 3 getting paid, despite the fact that they aren't working. While it's nice for America's automakers to have access to a talent-pool of available workers, it's also a major financial drain on an industry that's already reeling from a distinct lack of profits. And with new cutbacks and layoffs being announced almost daily, these "job banks" are increasingly tough to justify,

American Axle Manufacturing (AAM), one of General Motors' main suppliers, isn't bankrupt,but it is feeling financial pain from the 1,100 workers that it is currently paying not to work. A grand total of $75 million is spent by AAM each year to maintain its share of the United Auto Workers "jobs bank", which represents approximately 2 percent of the supplier's gross sales and a substantial dent in the company's $56M of profit last year.

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