Auto Workers Approve Deal to End 40-Day GM Strike

Darsuan Hall looks towards oncoming traffic while standing on the picket line outside the General Motors plant in Wentzville, Mo., on Tuesday. (Troy Stolt/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

DETROIT (CN) – Factory employees represented by the United Auto Workers held a national vote Friday approving a new labor contract with General Motors to end a strike that lasted nearly six weeks.

“General Motors members have spoken,” UAW Vice President Terry Dittes said in a statement. “We are all so incredibly proud of UAW-GM members who captured the hearts and minds of a nation. Their sacrifice and courageous stand addressed the two-tier wages structure and permanent temporary worker classification that has plagued working class Americans.”

MLive reported that 75% of hourly workers and 73% of skilled trade workers voted for the contract. GM union workers at Saginaw Metal Castings Operations were the first in Michigan to approve the deal.

The voting process for UAW members requires 50% of voters plus one in order to approve a labor agreement. Each local union branch does not need to vote in favor of it since the votes are tabulated as a whole. Informational meetings are held at each local UAW to explain the details. Local officials are expected to police their own balloting and no auditing is performed.

The new deal includes an $11,000 bonus for UAW workers, and a $4,500 payment for temporary employees. GM will also invest more than $7 billon for facilities in the United States to create or retain approximately 9,000 positions.

GM will keep its Lordstown assembly plant in Ohio closed, however, as well as two plants that manufactured transmissions in Michigan and Maryland. Those affected production workers and skilled trade workers will be offered assistance packages along with additional buyout packages for those not eligible.

The Detroit Free Press reported the GM Tech Center in Warren, Michigan, will get $200 million in new investment while the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant will add electric truck and van assembly, a $3 billion investment that adds more than 2,200 new jobs at full volume.

Another assembly plant in Tennessee will produce a next generation SUV with a $1 billion investment from the automaker. Several other plants will be refurbished with $2 billion.

Some union branches soundly rejected the contract. The Detroit News reported that members at UAW Local 1097 in Rochester, New York, voted to reject the contract with only 17% voting in favor of the deal. Local 1097 represents 842 employees at Rochester Operations, which produces components for GM.

Michigan-based Anderson Economic Group estimates that through Oct. 27, GM will absorb a $1.75 billion loss from the 40-day strike. The lost wages of striking workers at both GM and its suppliers are estimated at $989 million. The UAW workforce is expected to lose $456 million compared to $533 million for suppliers.

Friday’s agreement comes three days after a former official from UAW’s General Motors department pleaded guilty in federal court to taking $123,000 in kickbacks from UAW vendors and contractors with the intent to launder the money.

Jeffrey Pietrzyk, 74, from Grand Island, New York, admitted that over the course of the 12-year conspiracy, he and two other UAW officials demanded and accepted bribes and kickbacks from the vendors in exchange for securing or maintaining contracts.

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