The United Auto Workers Union (UAW) and General Motors have reached a tentative agreement, avoiding a strike minutes before the Sunday 11:59 p.m. deadline.
The agreement was reached at 11:43 p.m. Sunday, just 16 minutes before the 11:59 p.m. deadline when the outgoing four-year agreement was set to expire and the union could order a strike.
Few details were released about the new agreement, but both the UAW and GM seem to be content with it.
“The new UAW-GM national agreement is good for employees and the business,” said Cathy Clegg, GM North America Manufacturing and Labor Relations vice president. “Working with our UAW partners, we developed constructive solutions that benefit employees and provide flexibility for the company to respond to the needs of the marketplace.”
The “UAW-GM Bargaining Committee has secured significant gains and job security protections in a proposed Tentative Agreement with GM,” the union stated.
“Terms of the four-year agreement are not being shared publicly to allow the International UAW to inform their membership about the agreement and conduct a ratification vote,” GM stated. “If ratified, the agreement would cover about 52,600 GM employees in the United States who are represented by the UAW.”
Next, leaders of the local union who make up the UAW’s National GM Council will convene this Wednesday in Detroit. There, they will review and discuss the details of the agreement and then vote on it. It will be after this time that details of the new agreement will be released and members will vote for its ratification across the country.
UAW representatives on hand to provide their opinions of the new agreement seemed quite excited by it.
“We believe that this agreement will present stable long-term significant wage gains and job security commitments to UAW members now and in the future,” said UAW President Dennis Williams. “We look forward to presenting the details of these gains to local union leaders and the membership.”
UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada called the agreement transformative.
“The significant gains in this agreement are structured in a way that will provide certainty to our members and create a clear path for all GM employees now and in the future. The agreement not only rewards UAW-GM members for their accomplishments, but it protects them with significant job security commitments.”
Though details of the new agreement are scarce, new terms reached with the UAW will last for four years, and is widely expected to mirror the deal ratified by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on Thursday of this week in terms of basic wages. Compared to FCA, GM’s deal is expected to have greater signing and performance bonuses, profit sharing, and lump sum payments due to the fact that it’s larger and more profitable.
However, GM was negotiating to keep production labor costs competitive with competing automakers, which sometimes have labor costs that are as much as $10 an hour lower. Earlier in the week, the automaker reported strong earnings for the third quarter of 2015 and re-iterated its commitment to maintaining a profit margin of 10 percent. As such, the new agreement with the union must work towards that goal.
Sunday’s bargaining represented the first opportunity for GM-UAW workers to strike since 2009, when GM filed for bankruptcy and was bailed out by the U.S. and Canadian governments. The union gave up its right to strike until 2015 negotiations as a condition of the bailout.
Local UAW teams were making strike preparations as the Sunday night deadlined approached, but were told to stay on the job unless instructed otherwise. The union could have struck across the U.S. or chosen targeted strikes at different GM plants. Last week, the UAW was in a similar position to strike during its negotiations with Fiat Chrysler. The two sides came to an agreement before the deadline.
So far in 2015, GM has announced plans to invest $5.4 billion into its U.S. plants as it prepares an aggressive new vehicle rollout strategy for Chevrolet, GMC, and Buick brands. Cadillac, meanwhile, will go on somewhat of a product rollout hiatus following the launch of the 2017 Cadillac XT5 as its executive leadership team redefines strategy and product planning.