Crucial vote moves UAW-GM pact closer to ratification – Detroit Free Press
The UAW’s agreement with General Motors is close to ratification this morning after workers at a Ft. Wayne, Ind., truck plant voted for it with a 58% majority as more than half of the union workers have voted.
The largest locals to complete voting are at assembly plants in Delta Township near Lansing and Lordstown, Ohio, as well as a stamping plant in Marion, Ind.
Ft. Wayne is crucial because it comes a day after workers at another large truck plant in Wentzville, Mo., near St. Louis, approved the four-year contract by 57% to 43% with about 3,500 people voting. Late Wednesday, about 1,300 voters gave a 54% majority in favor of the deal at UAW Local 22, which represents workers at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant.
Early this morning, Local 163, representing about 220 people at GM’s Romulus engine plant, reported members voted yes by a 54% to 46% margin.
Pockets of resistance remain. Late Wednesday night, Local 1005 at GM’s Parma Metal Center posted results showing 53% of its 1,045 voting members cast no votes.
A familiar pattern has developed at most locations. Production workers back the agreement, but most skilled tradespeople voted no.
If ratified, about 57,200 GM hourly workers would receive an $8,000 signing bonus and a raise. Entry-level production workers currently paid between $15.78 and $19.28 per hour would see their wages increase to between $17 and $22.50 per hour and would eventually earn about $29 per hour in three to six years, depending on their hire date.
The so-called Tier 2 workers also would get the same health care coverage as “traditional” workers hired before October 2007. That coverage has no deductible and extensive benefit coverage.
The “traditional” workers would receive 3% raises in the first and third years of the contract and 4% lump-sum bonuses in the second and fourth years of the agreement.
Two factors are contributing to skilled trades opposition. First, they are not eligible for a $60,000 retirement incentive that will be offered to up to 4,000 production workers.
Their second concern is that the contract calls for changes in the range of jobs skilled tradespeople perform. GM and other automakers have reduced the number of skilled trades categories over the last several contracts and that trend will continue.
There are between three and four production workers for every skilled trades job, and a majority of production workers are voting yes.
There are also concerns among thousands of temporary or “flex” workers, who would receive a $2,000 signing bonus and less generous health care than their permanent coworkers, if the contract is ratified. Some of them aren’t convinced they will have a path to permanent status. Temporary workers can vote on the agreement.
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