Ratification of General Motors’ new tentative agreement with the United Auto Workers (UAW) has been delayed due to rejection of the deal from skilled trades workers over two specific issues.
On late Friday, November 6th, 2015, the UAW released final voting results for the new tentative labor agreement, which it reached with GM minutes before a strike deadline on October 25th and that would cover 52,600 workers across the United States.
The UAW released the following voting result figures:
- 58.3 percent of GM production workers voted for the new deal
- 59.5 percent of skilled trades workers voted against the new deal
- An overall 55.4 percent of hourly workers at GM’s U.S. facilities voted in support of the new deal
For the new deal to pass, both skilled trades and production workers must ratify the deal individually. The contact has parts specifically for each of the two groups.
GM Pleased With Majority Vote
In a press release late Friday, GM stated that it “is pleased that a majority of UAW-represented employees recognize the benefits of the 2015 UAW-GM national agreement and voted in favor of it”.
Since the contract has not been ratified, the UAW will hold meetings with skilled trades members at each plant to establish “what reason(s) they had for rejection of the tentative agreement. Once that inquiry has concluded, the UAW’s International Executive Board shall meet to determine what appropriate steps shall be taken. The results of this process cannot change aspects of the agreement which are common to all members.”
UAW President Dennis Williams and UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada held a conference call with UAW-GM local presidents and shop chairs on Friday afternoon during which they advised local leadership to meet with trades workers by early next week, according to the Detroit News.
In its inquiry, the union will need to find out why skilled trades workers are voting against the deal. Specifically, the challenge will be to find out if the workers are voting it down over monetary issues or due to their classification.
From there, the union will be faced with making some conclusions and decisions. For instance, the union can decided to strike, attempt to negotiate further with GM on specific skilled trades issues, or simply determine that skilled trades workers voted down the contract primarily due to economic issues, rather than issues unique to them.
UAW Leadership Can Overrule Veto
Ultimately, UAW leadership has the power to overrule a rejection by skilled trades workers if it finds that they voted against the agreement for reasons other than issues specific to them.
Though rare, the scenario played out in 2011 with the skilled trades workers at the Chrysler Group, now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles U.S. Then-UAW President Bob King and the UAW board ratified the contract in its entirety because skilled trades can reject a pact based solely on their portion. They can not veto it based on shared areas such as raises, vacation days and attendance policies.