The GM strike is now in its third day following a United Auto Workers walkout that went into effect Sunday night. This is the first national UAW strike since 2007. Negotiations between the union and General Motors restarted earlier this week, with both sides seeking to hash out a new four-year contract after the previous contract expired last Saturday. While initial reports indicated no progress in the talks, it’s now looking like some small advances have been made thus far. So – what do both sides want from the new contract?
Let’s start with the UAW, which points to a litany of sticking points as roughly 50,000 of its members continue the GM strike.
One of the biggest issues is health care. Currently, it’s estimated that GM workers pay roughly 3 percent of health expenses, far below the 28 percent paid by the average U.S. worker, and thus, the UAW is seeking to retain those benefits.
Wages are also a major issue, with the UAW seeking increases over previous figures, as well as substantial wage progression for new hires.
Beyond these two headlining items, the UAW is also seeking a larger share of GM profits, a path to a permanent position for temporary workers, new allocation for recently idled production facilities, and greater job security as well.
Meanwhile, GM is seeking to balance the UAW’s demands with lower overall labor costs, preferably something more in line with the costs incurred at U.S. auto plants run by foreign automakers.
However, healthcare is one of the more-expensive items for GM, with reports that the automaker doles out upwards of $1 billion in healthcare-related payments every year.
This past Sunday, GM proposed a deal that included the addition of 5,400 new jobs over the next four years, with applications in battery cell production for electric vehicles and production of a new electric pickup truck. The deal also included $7 billion in investments, a ratification payment of $8,000, wage and lump sum increases over four years, and a better wage sharing formula, as well as retention of health care benefits, plus new coverage for things like autism therapy and chiropractic care.
However, the proposal failed to address temporary workers, new-hire wages, and did not provide specifics with regard to health care costs. Thus, the UAW rejected the proposal, leading to the GM strike this week.
However, with negotiations once again underway, some resolution is now looking possible.