Wednesday, 20 November, 2019

GM, union reach tentative deal but strike may continue

General Motors United Auto Workers reach tentative deal to end 31-day strike Enlarge Image AFP Getty Images
Russell Knight | 17 October, 2019, 01:11

Issues that have divided the automaker and union since the strike took effect September 16 included allocation of future product to plants GM said past year no longer have vehicles to build, the treatment of temporary workers and the rising cost of health-care coverage.

The United Auto Workers (UAW) union has announced a tentative deal with General Motors after weeks of negotiations and one of the longest strikes in the company's history.

The UAW's national leaders will vote Thursday morning on whether the tentative agreement will be sent to members for a ratification vote.

When the national council reviews the deal's terms, it will also decide whether almost 50,000 workers should remain on strike or whether they should go back to work before the full membership ratifies the agreement.

It's important to note the strike is not over just yet.

GM declined to comment on the involvement of its top two executives in the negotiations. Aside from bringing the tentative agreement to a vote for approval at the Council meeting, the group will also decide whether the strike will cease upon its initial approval.

If the Council votes to approve this proposal, it will then become an official tentative agreement and give workers a locked-in option to vote on in the near future.

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"As of this time, we do not have a tentative agreement". Experts project the conflict has cost the automaker more than $1 billion in lost productivity, striking workers a combined $835 million in pay and $18 million in tax revenues for the state of MI.

Colin James, who represents Unifor union members who work at GM's Oshawa plant and surrounding employers, said he expects the US autoworkers will hold a ratification vote over the weekend.

"We are extremely grateful to the thousands of Americans who donated goods and helped our striking workers and their families".

"I basically think it showed General Motors that we do deserve a better piece of the pie", Sleeman said. "As we await the Council's decision, please know that the outpouring of community and national support will be etched in the memories of all of us at the UAW for years to come", Dittes added. Now that GM has been nursed back to health - earning $2.42 billion in its latest quarter - they want a bigger share.

"The dignity, grace, and solidarity demonstrated by our members during the last few weeks are prime examples of what this union is all about - supporting one another in the good and bad times and never giving up", said UAW President Gary Jones.

If the council approves the contract, it will be forwarded to the union membership for a ratification vote. "Our more than 48,000 members standing their ground have captured the hearts and minds of people across this country". The earliest workers could return would be after that.

There's also no guarantee that the first contract deal with GM will pass. The strike ended when GM agreed to pay raises and recognized the UAW as the workers' exclusive bargaining representative. Workers will stay on the picket lines at least until Thursday, when factory-level union officials meet to sign off on the deal. It was the first national strike by the union since a two-day walkout in 2007 that had little impact on the company.

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