Nexteer's new tentative pact bumps up wages, reduces health care costs
A new tentative labor deal between Nexteer Automotive and the UAW secured higher wage gains for most workers and scrapped a controversial health care provision that was a major factor in the previous deal’s overwhelming rejection and subsequent strike.
Nexteer workers represented by UAW Local 699 in Saginaw, Mich., will vote on the new agreement on Thursday and Friday, according to a union Facebook post.
Local 699 President Rick Burzynski said he thinks this vote should be more successful than the last one, which was rejected by 97 percent of workers and led to a 20-hour strike at the company’s Saginaw factory.
“Overall, it looks pretty good right now,” Burzynski said. “Most of the issues that we had, including in health care, were addressed.”
A company spokesman declined to discuss specific terms of the tentative contract.
One of the major complaints about the previous agreement centered on a PPO health care plan in which workers would have to contribute as much as $350 per month. The most recent deal makes it so that employees contribute nothing to either the PPO or HMO plans -- a gain Burzynski called “substantial.”
“Hopefully, members will be talking to their friends at work about it,” he said.
The union also secured greater wage gains over the life of the contract (about five years) than the previous deal, which was set to last about four years.
Production workers would be paid between $15.88 and $18.69 per hour by the end of the deal, compared with between $15.85 and $17.25 by the end of the rejected contract. Production workers’ wages would rise by between $1 and $2 per hour upon ratification.
New production workers would still see their wages rise to $15.35 by the final year of the deal, but it will take an extra year to get there.
Other major differences from the rejected deal include a $2,000 signing bonus, up from $1,500, employees being able to defer holidays into the next calendar year and no changes in vacation or relief time from the previous contract.
Burzynski said the concessions the union was able to secure from Nexteer should satisfy enough workers to get it ratified, though he said “some concerns” remain.
He said some workers that have been with the company long term would like to see the pay gap between them and new workers be larger, and some workers who saw their wages decrease under the last contract in 2010 want to see their old wages reinstated.
Burzynski said leadership will roll out the deal at informational meetings with the membership on Tuesday and Wednesday ahead of the vote. He said it was a conscious decision to spread the process out over four days after workers complained about voting and informational meetings taking place on the same day last time.
“Members felt like they got rushed,” Burzynski said. “We’re not going to rush them this time.”
The contract would expire on March 20, 2020, if it is ratified by a majority of the Saginaw facilities’ 3,200 UAW-represented workers.
Saginaw-based Nexteer, once a part of General Motors and more recently Delphi Corp., is ranked 68th on Automotive News’ list of top 100 global suppliers with $2.9 billion in global sales in 2014. It employs 12,000 workers worldwide and provides steering and driveline systems to automakers including GM, Ford Motor Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Corp.
The one-day walkout quickly raised concerns about possible production disruptions at certain automakers, particularly GM.
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