The head of the UAW’s General Motors department, Cindy Estrada, is pushing to ratify the tentative new agreement with General Motors Company following meetings held with skilled trades workers across the United States. The meetings come as a result of the majority of skilled trades voting against the new GM-UAW contract, thereby preventing the ratification of the deal and causing GM and the UAW to extend the outgoing contract, established in 2011, by a week.
Speaking on the basis of anonymity with the Detroit News, three people familiar wit the union’s plans stated that UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada, who also serves as President of the union’s GM department, held a conference call Thursday morning with UAW-GM local leadership to review the reason why skilled trades workers rejected the new contract. She said that she will recommend that UAW President Dennis Williams and the union’s International Executive Board ratify the agreement.
Estrada also told leadership that she planned to meet with General Motors to clarify some language in the contract and to address specific issues brought up by skilled trades. Over the course of last week, the UAW was able to procure letters of clarification from GM over some language in the contract over which some skilled trades workers brought up concerns.
On November 6th, the UAW announced the following voting results on the new 2015 GM labor contract, which impacts about 52,600 hourly workers at GM’s U.S. plants:
- 55.4 percent of GM union members overall voted “yes” on the tentative agreement.
- 59.5 percent of skilled trades workers voted “no”. The skilled trades are made of positions such as welders, and represents about who represent about 16 percent of the 52,600 worker force.
As such, even though the majority of GM UAW members overall supported the tentative agreement with 55.4 percent voting for its ratification, it could not be ratified immediately since 59.5 percent of skilled trades workers opposed the deal.
Both production line workers and skilled trades have parts of the contract tailored to their classifications. For the deal to be approved, both skilled trades and production workers must ratify the deal separately.
The UAW can overrule a rejection by skilled trades workers if the union finds they voted against it for reasons that are predominantly economic and not unique to their classification.
The New GM-UAW Contract
Though details of the new tentative agreement between GM and the UAW will not be made public until the deal is ratified, here are the unofficial details we have been able to gather:
- Workers hired before 2007 would receive 3 percent raises in the first and third years of the contract and 4 percent lump-sum bonuses in the second and fourth years of the agreement.
- Lump-sum payments would be four percent of annual pay, the same as FCA. It’s likely that GM workers wanted this number to be greater given GM’s larger size and profitably.
- All hourly employees get a signing bonus of as much as $8,000, higher than rival FCA, whose hourly workers get a $4,000 signing bonus.
- GM workers would keep the outgoing contract’s profit sharing structure of $1,000 per $1 billion in GM North American profit. Some outlets have reported the bonus structure as being of “$1,000 and an additional $500 bonus when quality metrics are reached”.
- To note, GM paid an average of $9,000 to the average UAW member in profit sharing in 2015 alone, according to the Center for Automotive Research.
- Up to 4,000 eligible employees would be offered a $60,000 early retirement incentive.
- The pay gap between veteran workers and new hires will gradually be eliminated, thereby allowing entry-level, or two-tier workers to reach a top wage of about $29 an hour in eight years. For instance, entry level production workers currently paid between $15.78 and $19.28 per hour would see their wages increase to between $17 and $22.50 per hour and would eventually earn about $29 per hour.
- One of the most controversial aspects of the proposed agreement is to pay workers at GM Components Holdings a lower pay rate than other workers. A group of about 3,400 hourly workers at several GM parts plants with one to four years of seniority would be paid $16.25 to $19.86.
- GM will invest $1.9 billion in U.S. facilities, creating or retaining 3,300 jobs at 12 plants.