At the handshake ceremony to formally open negotiations, UAW President Gary Jones demanded that GM CEO Mary Barra keep open four plants in the U.S. it had "unallocated" last November.
"We call on GM to keep these plants open and allocate more products on American soil," Jones said in July. "It can be done."
It was. To an extent.
While GM won the ability to close plants in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland, the union secured a big win in keeping open Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, which was scheduled to close in January. Workers there will get the opportunity to build electric trucks, vans and battery modules, which represents a $3 billion commitment. While the union has voiced concern over electric vehicles, and while EVs remain a tiny portion of the market, the allocation cements job security for up to 2,225 people at full capacity. If that doesn't secure their "yes" votes, nothing will.
Older workers at the three plants slated to close:
It's never good when a company closes your plant. But if a company is going to close your plant, the best you can hope for is a generous buyout package, and that's what they're getting. According to the tentative deal, workers displaced by the closure of the plants in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland can elect a $75,000 retirement incentive ($85,000 for skilled trades), a buyout of up to $75,000 depending on their level of seniority or several other options.
For someone weighing an early retirement against the prospect of uprooting their family or drastically increasing their commute to another facility, it's certainly an attractive option. It might be safe to assume most workers at these plants will vote to reject the deal, but older employees mulling their financial future might add a few "yes" votes to the tally.
GM in 2018 became Mexico's largest producer of automobiles. The country accounted for more than a quarter of all the company's estimated North American production, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
It's likely to retain that title this year.
The union, predictably, thought that was no bueno and sought to return production to this side of the Rio Grande over the course of the 2019 contract. In that regard, it failed. There's no mention of any product returning from Mexico in either the union's contract highlights or full white book.
To add insult to injury, GM's production numbers in Mexico are likely to grow in 2019, thanks to a full year's worth of production of the Chevrolet Blazer. If workers vote "no," this is likely to be at the top of their list of grievances.