DETROIT — UAW leaders on Thursday voted to extend the union’s national strike against General Motors - now in its 32nd day - until members ratify a tentative agreement.
Following a 6 1/2-hour meeting of the UAW’s GM national council here, union spokesman Brian Rothenberg said the council voted to send the deal for ratification and to keep members on picket lines until the deal is ratified. He said informational meetings and voting will begin on Saturday, and the process should be completed in eight days, or next Friday, Oct. 25.
The union and automaker on Wednesday reached a tentative agreement that includes a total $9 billion in investments by GM, a commitment to keep open the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant and a path for temporary workers to gain full-time status, among other gains.
Union members can ratify the deal with a simple majority of members voting in favor.
Informational meetings regarding the details of the tentative deal will begin on Saturday. The UAW’s spokesman originally said voting would start Saturday as well, but later said individual locals would set their voting times and he was unsure when it would begin. The process is expected to wrap up by 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 25.
“There are some things that everybody liked,” a UAW-GM council member who asked not to be identified told Automotive News. "We obviously didn’t get everything we wanted, but it was clear that membership would be the final voice on it.”
In a statement, GM said: "We encourage the UAW to move as quickly as possible through the ratification process, so we can resume operations and get back to producing vehicles for our customers. Our goal during these negotiations was to ensure that the future of General Motors is one that works for our employees, dealers, suppliers and the communities where we operate. The agreement reflects our commitment to U.S. manufacturing through the creation of new jobs and increased investment.”
Prolonging the strike by another week means an additional $400 million in losses for GM, according to the Anderson Economic Group, a consulting firm in East Lansing, Mich. UAW workers will lose $14 million more in lost wages per day, and supplier employees who continue to be laid off will lose $20.5 million per day, the firm estimates.
Through bonuses and wage increases, “GM did everything they could with money,” Patrick Anderson, CEO of the firm, told Automotive News. “They absolutely needed the flexibility to close plants they can’t possibly fill. I’m not surprised that’s a bitter pill to swallow for the UAW."
The UAW’s tentative agreement with GM would give full-time hourly workers a signing bonus of $11,000, provide wage or lump-sum pay increases of at least 3 percent annually and allow new hires to reach top wages in four years instead of eight, according to a summary of the deal provided by the union.
During the Thursday meeting, UAW leaders were going through the contract summary page-by-page, with considerable debate about job security and three plants slated for closure, a person with knowledge of the meeting told Automotive News. Unlike the summaries from prior contracts, this year’s “highlighter” does not contain any details about plant investments or product commitments GM is making.
Union officials also raised concerns about their members going back to work while UAW-represented janitorial workers remained on strike against GM, a person familiar with the matter said. The union was still negotiating with Aramark, the vendor that employs those workers, earlier in the day, but reached a temporary agreement with the company by late Thursday afternoon.
Details about the tentative deal with Aramark workers were not immediately available. Union officials earlier were concerned about asking rank-and-file to cross their own union's picket lines, the person said.
The tentative contract with GM, if ratified, would result in all current workers earning at least $32.32 an hour by September 2023. Temporary workers would have a path to becoming full-time employees, the summary said.
Profit-sharing payouts would no longer be capped at $12,000 annually, though the formula for calculating them would not change. Health care coverage also is unchanged.
GM also will contribute $1,000 to the pensions of workers hired prior to 2007 who still are eligible for that benefit and is offering $60,000 bonuses to up to 2,060 workers eligible for retirement who leave the company in January or February.