What GM/UAW workers lose: Free divorces and legal help

Both General Motors and the United Auto Workers have had to make concessions in the most recent round of talks that led to the tentative labor agreement that's currently awaiting ratification. But what exactly did workers give up in the process? For starters, GM employees will cease to enjoy free legal counsel starting in 2014. For decades, the UAW Legal Services Plan provided attorney services to unionized autoworkers on their employer's dime. Workers can use the plan for anything, including divorce, with the exception of suing their employer, legal woes attached to rental properties or any criminal offense that could lead to jail time.
According to The Detroit Free Press, the Legal Services Plan came into being in the late '70s with the purpose of providing low and middle-income workers access to top-rate legal service. At the time, General Motors and other domestic manufacturers could afford to provide the aid, but with 65 offices in 20 states fielding over 160,000 cases per year, it's easy to see the cost benefit of shedding the service. GM may not be the only automaker looking to bow out, either. There's some indication that Ford will do the same in its negotiations with the union.

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