The United Auto Workers union has decided to walk off the job at midnight Sunday after rejecting a General Motors offer that the automaker said would “improve wages, benefits and grow U.S. jobs in substantive ways.”
In a statement, the UAW said it would strike in order to secure fair wages, affordable healthcare, larger profit sharing cheques and better job security for all of its employees. It is also seeking a “path to permanent seniority,” for temporary workers.
“Local Union leaders from across the nation met Sunday morning after the 2015 General Motors collective bargaining agreement expired Saturday night and opted to strike at midnight on Sunday,” the UAW said in a media release. “The autoworkers are calling on the Big 3 automaker to recognize the contributions and sacrifices that the company’s UAW members have made to create a healthy, profitable, industry.”
GM says it gave the UAW an offer that would see the automaker make “over $7 billion in investments,” and add “more than 5,400 jobs,” in the US over the next four years. This would include “solutions,” for allocated assembly plants in Michigan and Ohio like Hamtramck Assembly and Lordstown Assembly, such as new vehicle and powertrain/propulsion programs. The deal also included wage or lump sum increases in all four years of the contract, an improved profit sharing formula and an $8,000 ratification bonus, GM’s media release said without going into specifics.
One of the more interesting parts of the proposed deal, however, was GM’s promise to bring production of its new electric pickup truck to the United States and set up the first dedicated, union-represented battery cell manufacturing plant in the U.S. Those familiar with GM’s plans say it wanted to build the new electric pickup truck at Hamtramck, while battery cell production would head to Lordstown. The UAW may not be satisfied with these plans, however, as GM isn’t planning to release its battery electric truck for at least three more years.
“We presented a strong offer that improves wages, benefits and grows U.S. jobs in substantive ways and it is disappointing that the UAW leadership has chosen to strike at midnight tonight,” GM’s statement said. “We have negotiated in good faith and with a sense of urgency. Our goal remains to build a strong future for our employees and our business.”
The UAW is attempting to negotiate a contract just as some of its top executives are being investigated for corruption. The FBI has already arrested and charged several top union leaders and recently raided the Michigan home of union leader Gary Jones as part of its ongoing probe. Despite this, the worker’s union says it remains “committed to a strong contract at GM that recognizes our UAW members, who make some of the greatest products in the world and make GM so profitable.”