The United Auto Workers (UAW) union has ratified a new labor contract with General Motors today. The union’s governing body, known as the International Executive Board and composed to UAW President Dennis Williams, vice presidents and regional directors, approved the agreement.
“The General Motors Co. was notified on Nov. 20 that the agreement has been ratified,” wrote UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada in a letter to union leadership late Friday.
The new contract runs through September 2019 and impacts 52,600 hourly plant workers across 40 General Motors plants in the U.S. It has been in the making for roughly four months, with the ratification process taking two weeks longer this year as a result of a rejection of skilled trades workers voting against it.
The union asked GM for more time to ratify the new contract in order to find out and deliberate issues that led skilled trades workers to vote agains the agreement. Specifically, skilled trades workers opposed section of the contract intended to reduce the amount of skilled classifications, particularly among mechanical crafts such as millwrights, pipefitters, machine repair people and tool makers who make up 16 percent of total hourly employees. The parties ended up compromising on some of the issues, but the delay in the contract’s ratification created tension in some plants between production workers, the majority of whom approved the deal, and skilled trades workers who voted against it.
The contract was ratified, in part, thanks to GM agreeing to restore some of those classifications, while retaining the ability to cross-train workers to perform a variety of tasks.
“Following discussions with GM, the parties agreed to changes that protect core trades classifications and seniority rights,” the UAW said in a news release.
It doesn’t appear that GM compromised on one of the other more prominent issues brought up by skilled trades involving retirement incentives worth $60,000 per worker.
In a statement, General Motors said that it is pleased the UAW has ratified the national agreement, adding that it “is good for employees and the business.”
“We will continue to work with our UAW partners to implement the agreement, and engage our employees in improving the business and building great vehicles for our customers”, GM’s statement read.
The deal gives UAW’s traditional workers their first wage increase in 10 years, while also creating a path for newer employees — those hired after 2007 — to have their wages reach parity with more seasoned co-workers by 2020. The deal also gives each of the 52,600 hourly employees an $8,000 signing bonus.
The raises will take effect Monday, November 23rd. but the two-week delay in ratifying the contract will delay the payment of the $8,000 signing bonus until after Thanksgiving and the Black Friday weekend.
GM joins Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in striking a new four-year nationwide agreement with the UAW. Ford is concluding voting today, and the results have not yet been released as of this writing. The Blue Oval’s deal was in danger of being defeated heading into Friday.