UAW Leaders Sending GM Contract to Membership

"It looks like a fair agreement that is much better than what was offered"

Brendan Keany
October 17, 2019 - 6:01 pm

UAW Workers strike at the Tonawanda Engine Plant. September 16, 2019 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)


BUFFALO (WBEN) - After meeting in Detroit on Thursday and holding a meeting that lasted more than six hours, UAW leaders have decided to send the GM contract to membership for a ratification vote.

Workers will stay on the picket lines for at least another week until they vote on a tentative contract with the company.

About 49,000 workers have been on strike for more than a month, paralyzing GM's U.S. factories and costing the company an estimated $2 billion.

Some of the provisions of the agreement include a mixture of lump sums and annual pay raises, an $11,000 signing bonus, which is more than GM wanted to give to begin with, and they also shortened the amount of time it takes for temporary workers to become full-time.

However, three plants will officially close their doors as part of the agreement, which many had expected would have to be the case before negotiations began.

The deal says that GM is allowed to close the assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, as well as two more parts plants in Baltimore and Warren, Michigan.

Art Wheaton is an Industry Education Specialist at Cornell, and he says the next step in this process is absolutely critical to ensure a healthy relationship between the UAW and GM.

"If it fails in the ratification vote, then they have to go back and bargain the contract again, and if it would have failed once, the next contract could be even worse, not better," said Wheaton. "GM would continue to lose money and have less money available to give them, and they would have a lot less faith in the bargaining team, saying, 'Hey, we made an agreement, you couldn't deliver and get it ratified, so we no longer have the trust.'"

Leaders also announced that the strike will continue until the members officially ratify the four-year contract. Wheaton commented on the provisions of the new deal, and he says it looks like a win for the UAW, but he's not positive that remaining on strike is the best solution in this particular case.

"The deal, on the surface and reading through the summary, it looks like a fair agreement that is much better than what was offered before the strike started, and there were gains for the UAW," he said. "They should end the strike now, approve the ratification so that people don't have to keep pounding the pavement for another week or two in the cold and rain...Walking the picket line and not getting a full paycheck for a couple more weeks is not the desirable position."

Listen to Wheaton's full comments below:

The tentative agreement between GM and the UAW now will be used as a template for talks with GM's crosstown rivals, Ford and Fiat Chrysler. Normally the major provisions carry over to the other two companies and cover about 140,000 auto workers nationwide. The union hasn't decided yet which company it will bargain with next, and it's not clear if there will be another strike.

Comments ()