United Auto Workers has agreed to make changes to its labor agreements to help save the industry. The union will suspend the controversial jobs bank program and make concessions on health-care benefits and pay for new hires.

The UAW, the union that represents US auto workers, has begun making concessions in order to save the industry and help secure government funding for the Big 3 Detroit automakers.

The United Auto Workers had agreed to suspend the jobs bank program, a controversial element of their contract with automakers, that allows laid-off auto workers to continue to draw up to 95 percent of their salaries while unemployed. They've also agreed to deferred payments by automakers into a health-care fund for retired employees, a major part of their landmark labor agreement with automakers back in 2007.

The UAW has also made concessions on reductions in pay. For new hires, compensation will go from about $78 dollars an hour to 26 dollars, which includes pay and benefits.

US auto workers have been hit hard not only by the recent crisis but by the steady decline of the Big 3 over the last several years. GM has said it will shed an additional 31,000 jobs as part of its restructuring plan. The UAW has lost 119,000 members since 2006. Union membership peaked at 1.5 million back in 1979 and has been declining ever since.


Gallery: UAW agrees to suspend controversial jobs bank - make other concessions