Ratification of the new GM-UAW labor contract has been delayed due to a majority (59.5 percent) rejection by skilled trades workers. Depending on who we talk to, skilled trades workers have various reasons to oppose the agreement, but two issues in particular seem to be contributing to their opposition:
- The skilled trades employees are not eligible for a retirement incentive of $60,000. The incentive will be offered to as many as 4,000 production workers.
- The contract calls for changes in the range of jobs skilled tradespeople perform. Over the last several years, the number or skilled trades categories has been reduced by GM and other automakers. The trend is likely to continue well into the future.
There are between three and four production workers for every skilled-trades job for a total of 52,600 workers across the United States that the new contract will impact.
And even though 59.5 percent of skilled trades workers voted against the new contract, an overall 55.4 percent of hourly workers at GM’s U.S. facilities voted in support of the new deal.
UAW leadership has the power to overrule the rejection by skilled trades workers if an investigation finds that they voted against the agreement for reasons other than issues specific to them. The scenario has taken place before, with the most recent being in 2011 with the Chrysler Group, now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US.