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Autoworkers Near Conclusion of Vote on General Motors Contract, Results Too Close to Predict

by Andrew Wright
4 comments
UAW-GM Contract Vote

As the voting process draws to a close, thousands of United Auto Workers (UAW) members at General Motors are on the brink of concluding their ballots on a proposed contract agreement. This critical vote could mark a significant turning point in resolving the extended labor dispute involving the major Detroit automakers.

The final decision on the GM contract remains uncertain. The UAW had previously celebrated several major victories last month, following six weeks of targeted strikes against GM, Ford, and Stellantis (the parent company of Jeep, Dodge, and Ram). The union is poised to announce the GM voting outcomes this Thursday.

If ratified by the 146,000 union members, the trio of contracts promises substantial pay hikes for autoworkers. These include pay raises and cost-of-living adjustments, cumulatively amounting to a 33% increase in wages. By the time the contracts expire in April 2028, top-tier assembly plant workers could be earning an estimated $42 per hour.

At Ford, where voting is ongoing until early Saturday, preliminary results indicate a 66.1% approval rate, with some larger factories yet to complete their vote. A similar trend is observed at Stellantis, with voting extended until Tuesday and current approval standing at 66.1%.

Approximately 46,000 UAW members at GM are finalizing their votes. As of Wednesday, a slim margin of 2,500 votes was observed in favor of the agreement. This count excludes votes from a Lansing, Michigan assembly plant with 2,400 workers, where 61% voted against the contract. Exact voting numbers from this plant are yet to be disclosed.

Among the four GM plants that initiated strikes, only the Arlington, Texas SUV plant endorsed the contract. Plants in Wentzville, Missouri; Lansing Delta Township, Michigan; and Spring Hill, Tennessee, rejected it. Long-term GM employees expressed dissatisfaction with their relatively smaller pay raises compared to newer workers and sought greater pension enhancements.

Several smaller GM facilities are still in the voting process. These include parts warehouses and component factories, where workers received substantial pay raises and are anticipated to favor the contract.

Keith Crowell, Arlington’s local union president, noted the diversity of the plant’s workforce, ranging from full- and part-time temporary hires to veteran assembly line workers. While full-time temporary workers appreciated their significant pay increases and prospects for higher union wages, many long-term employees felt the immediate 11% pay raise was insufficient compensation for concessions made to GM in 2008.

In 2008, the union had agreed to reduced wages for new hires and forfeited cost of living and annual pay raises to assist the automakers during the Great Recession. Despite these concessions, GM and Stellantis (then Chrysler) faced government-backed bankruptcies.

Crowell recognized the contract’s attempt to address various interests, stating, “There was something in there for everybody, but everybody couldn’t get everything they wanted. At least we’re making a step in the right direction to recover from 2008.”

UAW President Shawn Fain has been vocal about the need to rectify the 2008 concessions, particularly in light of the automakers’ robust profits.

President Joe Biden commended the resolution of the strike as a preliminary success in fostering a worker-centric economy. However, the definitive success of these tentative contracts depends on the automakers’ ability to sustain profits, especially as they transition towards electric vehicles in a competitive market.

Numerous UAW members participated in targeted strikes beginning September 15, leading up to the late last month’s tentative agreements. Instead of a unified strike, the union orchestrated targeted walkouts at individual plants of all three automakers, with roughly 46,000 of the union’s 146,000 members participating at the peak.

Under the proposed agreements with all three companies, long-term workers would receive general raises of 25% throughout the contract duration, with an initial 11% increase. Factoring in cost of living adjustments, this would result in an overall gain of approximately 33%, as per the union.

The contracts also aim to eliminate lower wage tiers for newer hires, reducing the time needed to attain top pay. Many newer hires preferred defined benefit pension plans over 401(k) retirement plans. However, the companies agreed to contribute 10% annually into the 401(k) plans instead.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about UAW-GM Contract Vote

What is the Current Status of the UAW Vote on the GM Contract?

The United Auto Workers (UAW) members at General Motors are concluding their vote on a tentative contract agreement, which is pivotal in resolving a long-standing labor dispute with major Detroit automakers. The outcome, set to be announced on Thursday, remains uncertain.

How Might the GM Contract Affect Autoworker Salaries?

If ratified, the contracts would significantly increase pay for autoworkers. This includes pay raises and cost-of-living adjustments amounting to a 33% wage gain by April 2028, with top assembly plant workers potentially earning around $42 per hour.

What Were the Voting Results at the GM Plants?

As of the latest update, there’s a slim margin in favor of the agreement, with 2,500 votes. Notably, 61% of workers at a Lansing, Michigan plant voted against it. The Arlington, Texas SUV plant approved the contract, while plants in Wentzville, Missouri; Lansing Delta Township, Michigan; and Spring Hill, Tennessee, voted against it.

What Were the Key Issues for Long-Term GM Employees?

Long-term employees at GM were reportedly dissatisfied with the smaller pay raises compared to newer workers and sought larger pension increases. They felt the immediate 11% pay raises under the new deal did not adequately compensate for past concessions.

How Did the 2008 Concessions Affect the Current Negotiations?

In 2008, UAW accepted lower pay for new hires and gave up cost of living and annual pay raises to help the automakers during the Great Recession. This historical context played a significant role in the current negotiations, with many workers seeking to recover from the concessions made during that period.

What is the Significance of President Biden’s Comments on the Strike?

President Joe Biden praised the resolution of the strike, viewing it as a victory for what he describes as a worker-centered economy. His remarks underscore the broader economic and political implications of the labor negotiations.

How Do the Contracts Address the Concerns of Newer Hires?

The proposed contracts aim to end lower wage tiers for newer hires by reducing the time required to reach top pay. Although many newer hires preferred defined benefit pension plans, the companies agreed to contribute 10% annually into 401(k) plans instead.

More about UAW-GM Contract Vote

  • UAW and GM Contract Negotiations
  • Impact of UAW-GM Contract on Auto Workers’ Salaries
  • Voting Outcomes at General Motors Plants
  • Historical Context of 2008 Concessions in Auto Industry
  • President Biden’s Comments on Auto Industry Strike
  • Changes in Auto Worker Contracts for New Hires

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4 comments

CarlaR November 16, 2023 - 6:11 pm

i think the newer workers getting more raises is a bit unfair? long-time employees should be considered more.

Reply
Tom_K November 16, 2023 - 11:38 pm

it’s a tough situation, balancing old and new worker benefits. not an easy job for the UAW for sure.

Reply
Jenny87 November 17, 2023 - 11:29 am

good to see some progress but it’s like, not enough? they should’ve got more after what happened in 2008…

Reply
Mike_Jones November 17, 2023 - 3:06 pm

really interesting how close the vote is, shows how divided the workers are about the deal!

Reply

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