Tuesday, 19 November, 2019

UAW and GM reach proposed tentative agreement to end strike

GM UAW Hammer Out Details as Signs Suggest Agreement Near GM and union reach tentative deal that could end strike
Russell Knight | 17 October, 2019, 13:39

Picketing United Auto Workers Richard Rivera, left, and Will Myatt react to news of a tentative contract agreement with General Motors in Langhorne, Pa., on Wednesday.

UAW said in a statement the deal includes "major gains" for more than 48,000 workers who have been away from their jobs since September 16. "They reached a tentative agreement subject to approval by the rank and file members and other local unions across the border".

The four-year agreement, which would cover nearly 50,000 workers, signals a possible end to the month-long walkout, which has halted work at factories and cost the carmaker millions of dollars.

GM Union worker Matthew Sleeman said he was ready to get back to work and hopes the deal passes the majority vote. I'm not sure they're going to get anything that they wouldn't have gotten had they continued to bargain and hadn't gone on strike.

"I think there is pressure on both sides to get to a deal", he said.

That's a big difference from what GM wanted going into the talks: to slash total labor costs at its factories, which are about $13 per hour higher than at foreign automakers in the U.S.

Shares in General Motors rallied about 2% after the announcement.

"I did not vote for the last contract because of the language on temporaries", said Roberta Gainer, who has worked at GM's Tonawanda Engine Plant near Buffalo for 40 years.

Economists estimated General Motors lost more than $1 billion since the strike began.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra joined negotiators at the bargaining table on Tuesday before announcing a tentative agreement.

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They had carried signs for 31 days and demonstrated the muscle the United Auto Workers union still has over Detroit's three manufacturers.

It would seem that those effort over the week paid off.

The next step in the process is a meeting of the UAW's GM National Council Thursday in Detroit, at which the agreement will be examined and a decision made on whether to reject it, accept and continue pickets until the rank-and-file ratifies it, or accept it and direct the workers to return to their jobs immediately pending a vote.

GM Executive Vice President for Global Manufacturing Gerald Johnson issued a statement Friday saying, "On Monday, we presented another offer we felt achieved our mutual objectives".

"This agreement will help younger workers, as well as non- union members." stated Monty Todd, of Heltonville.

"The number one priority of the national negotiation team has been to secure a strong and fair contract that our members deserve", said UAW Vice President Terry Dittes, Director of the UAW GM Department.

This time around - with a federal corruption investigation that has implicated the past two UAW presidents and brought convictions of five union officials - many union members don't trust the leadership. "Our more than 48,000 members standing their ground have captured the hearts and minds of people across this country".

We may be close to the end of the longest strike against GM since 1970. But they're also exhausted of striking and may return before they vote on the deal themselves.

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. The strike continues at least until Thursday's meeting.

The deal shows that the union, with less than one-third of the 1.5 million members it had at its peak in 1979, still has a lot of clout with GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler.

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