The so-called "jobs bank" that's mandated by the UAW, where workers go to get paid for years after being laid off, is a concept that many of us cannot comprehend. Why? Not because we wish to be cruel to union employees, but rather because it was designed with the idea in mind that an automaker's layoffs might be temporary and that workers would need to be hired back relatively quickly. If anyone who follows the domestic industry really thinks this is the case nowadays, then, well, I hope you're not driving after consuming those types of drugs, as there hasn't been much "growth" at the domestics since I've been born.
The bottom line here is that the jobs banks is adding an incredible amount of inertia to the cost-cutting process, and the 1/3rd or so of workers that will be "involuntarily separated" from GM in the latest round of cuts will likely not disappear from the payroll for several years because of this. GM is likely to confront the UAW on this one; alternatively, I think the union might stand to gain a lot of favor with the public if they could come up with solutions to problems like this by themselves. As Paul Eisenstein pleads, this would allow the union to "become part of the solution".
Disclaimer - yes, I realize that both management and the union share a heavy burden of responsibility. Acknowledging that fact doesn't make the economic impact of things such as the jobs bank go away. I respectfully suggest that if management and labor put forth as much effort into finding solutions as they did blaming each other for their common problems, then I wouldn't be writing posts like this.