Late Friday, General Motors and the United Auto Workers announced that GM’s 49,000 workers at 55 facilities in the US had ratified a new, four-year labor contract.
The agreement comes after the longest strike against the automaker in decades. GM’s workforce walked off the job on September 16. The duration of the strike, the largest against the company since the 1970s, could have cost GM billions in lost revenue.
“We delivered a contract that recognizes our employees for the important contributions they make to the overall success of the company, with a strong wage and benefit package and additional investment and job growth in our U.S. operations,” GM CEO Mary Barra said a statement.
“GM is proud to provide good-paying jobs to tens of thousands of employees in America and to grow our substantial investment in the USAs one team, we can move forward and stay focused on our priorities of safety and building high-quality cars, trucks and crossovers for our customers.”
In its the UAW’s own statement, Vice President Terry Dittes said, “General Motors members have spoken.”
“We are all so incredibly proud of UAW-GM members who captured the hearts and minds of a nation. Their sacrifice and courageous stand addressed the two-tier wages structure and permanent temporary worker classification that has plagued working-class Americans.”
The UAW announced on Friday that the strike was officially over and that the workforce should return to the job according to GM’s directions.
Health care, wage increases, a signing bonus, profit-sharing, and a solution for temporary workers
GM summarized the new contract. It includes:
3% wage increases or 4% lump-sum payments in each of the four years of the contract.
Retention of … health care coverage, preserving the current 3% cost to employees.
An $11,000 contract signing bonus for regular employees, and $4,500 for temporary employees.
Enhanced employee profit-sharing, including no cap on our employees’ ability to share in the company’s profits.
A clear path for temporary employees to transition to permanent employment after three years of service, beginning in January 2020 for eligible employees with accrued time.
GM also summarized “planned investments of $7.7 billion,” including bringing a electric pickup to the previously “unallocated” Detroit-Hamtramck plant, $4 billion of investment in existing manufacturing, and the development of a new battery factory near an idled Lordstown, Ohio, plant that is being sold to an electric truck company Lordstown Motors.
The strike involved several testy exchanges between the GM and the UAW.
Some UAW leaders, including President Gary Jones, are under federal investigation on allegations of corruption. This made the strike a risky move, but the union made the leap, anyway.
After Friday’s news about the GM contract, the UAW announced it had selected Ford as the next US automaker for contract negotiations. The union engages in “pattern bargaining,” so its contract with GM should form a template for discussions with Ford.