The UAW rejected the GM offer and launched its Stand Up Strike at the GM Wentzville plant in Missouri, along with one plant each from Ford and Stellantis on Friday morning, but the details of The General’s proposal give a detailed picture of what terms the automaker may proffer going forward.
In answer to the UAW’s demands for a 46-percent increase in wages, GM upped its initial offer of a 16-percent raise to 20 percent. The first year of the new contract would include a 10-percent wage hike with the other 10 percent spread out over the life of the new contract. Wages for temporary workers would rise to $20 hourly.
GM also offered a quicker rise to maximum wages, reducing the time needed for progression from the current 8 years to 4 years. Maximum wage earners would also be shielded from the effects of inflation by cost-of-living protection, though apparently COLA would not apply to other wage tiers.
As for other benefits, GM offered a freeze on health insurance premiums, offering the same coverage without increases during the life of the contract. The associated retirement healthcare contribution would be increased by 25 percent. The offer also included a “retirement security” clause providing a contribution plan giving $1,000 to “active traditional employees” and $500 to retirees.
Under “work-life balance,” GM offered up to five weeks of vacation annually, plus two weeks of paid maternal leave and the Juneteenth holiday as a day off. The General also said it would provide “job security” in the form of “continuing work for all manufacturing and warehousing sites.”
GM also asserted “we have been bargaining in good faith to deliver a package with historic wage increases and manufacturing commitments, recognizing your contributions to our company.” The automaker also said it was trying to address worker concerns “in spite of the heated rhetoric from UAW leadership.”
For its part, the UAW also modified its demands at the last moment. The union initially asked for a 20-percent wage boost immediately effective once the new contract was ratified, with a 5-percent yearly increase over the next four years to achieve a compounded 46-percent raise by 2027. It cut this to 36 percent, according to at least one knowledgeable source.
Earlier, UAW president Shawn Fain issued a statement characterizing GM’s offer of a total 16-percent raise over the next four years as “an insulting proposal that doesn’t come close to an equitable agreement for America’s autoworkers.”
While the concessions by both sides moved the wage increases proposed by each closer to one another, an agreement could not be reached. The UAW rejected the offer and acted on the strike authorization voted on by union members a month ago, with more strikes potentially to follow.