Thousands of GM workers to vote today on UAW contract – Detroit Free Press
Several thousand UAW members at five General Motors plants in three states will vote today on a new national contract.
Workers at GM Flint Assembly, Flint Metal Center, Arlington Assembly, a powertrain plant in Bay City, Orion Assembly and Toledo Transmission are scheduled to vote through tonight on the proposed, four-year agreement.
UAW leaders are hoping workers at those plants will provide momentum for ratification prospects after workers at two plants delivered mixed results over the weekend.
A majority of workers at UAW Local 31 in Kansas City, Kan. voted to reject the contract over the weekend while workers at UAW Local 652 in Lansing voted in favor of the agreement as did members of UAW Local 174, a customer care and parts center in Ypsilanti, which voted 76% in favor.
To be ratified, a majority of 52,700 workers must vote yes. Voting ends Friday.
UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada held a conference call Saturday afternoon with top local officials, urging them to encourage members to support the deal.
Estrada and other UAW leaders encouraged elected UAW local officials to use social media and walk through their plants to talk about the contract’s $8,000 signing bonuses, raises for all workers and improved health care for workers hired over the last eight years, according to a source familiar with the phone call who was not authorized to speak about it.
While union leaders are hopeful of passage, officials are also concerned about complaints that workers at four component plants will not see their wages rise to parity with workers at assembly, powertrain and stamping plants. Some skilled trades workers have expressed unhappiness that they may not be eligible for a $60,000 retirement incentive.
On the conference call, GM union leaders discussed the need to communicate details of the contract more effectively than it did in the first round of ratification voting at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles which workers rejected, forcing the two sides back to the bargaining table. The FCA agreement was modified slightly with a higher signing bonus for veteran workers and a pathway for wage equality between workers hired before and after October 2007. Workers ratified it in a second vote.
The UAW posted a video Sunday night featuring members of the national bargaining committee on the “UAW GM Talks” Facebook page.
“We have active workers that hire in making less for working 40 hours a week than some of our retirees make,” said Todd McDaniel, chairman of the bargaining committee and chairman of UAW Local 362 in Bay City. “Some of our retirees have put in more years and have a little bit higher pension. “Does the company have the money ? Yes. Do our members deserve raises? Yes. But there is only so much. Can we get it all and still maintain jobs? No.”
“We can only get so much without driving them over the border.”
If the new contract is ratified, all 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.
Workers hired before 2007 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.
Meanwhile, Vicki Hale, president of UAW Local 31, sent a Facebook message warning members that GM is unlikely to make a better offer.
“Our union leadership team has bargained one of the best contracts I have seen in the last three national agreements,” Hale said in the message. “We didn’t get everything we proposed and we never get everything we propose, however our international bargaining team bargains for the greater good of all GM Unite UAW members.”
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