Wyoming workers not included in new UAW-GM contract – WOODTV.com

Posted: Friday, October 30, 2015
The Grand Rapids Operations plant on Burlingame Avenue in Wyoming. (Oct. 29, 2015)
The Grand Rapids Operations plant on Burlingame Avenue in Wyoming. (Oct. 29, 2015)

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Some United Auto Workers members in Wyoming are unhappy that they aren’t included in the labor union’s new contract that will give General Motors workers raises.

Under the UAW’s tentative deal with GM, workers will be able to make up to $29 per hour after eight years or less. Other highlights include an $8,000 signing bonus for workers, wage increases, performance bonuses and elimination of the two-tier system.

But not for the workers at the Grand Rapids Operations plant in Wyoming.

“It sucks,” two separate workers told 24 Hour News 8 as they left the Wyoming plant Thursday.

The plant located on Burlingame Avenue is considered a GMCH, which is a separate section of GM. That means the workers in Wyoming are not included in the UAW deal.

“We’re the red-headed stepchild nobody wants,” union worker James Roberson said. “They don’t want us, basically.”

Though their plant has a different name, workers say they’re doing the same work and want the same pay.

“We’ve been told over and over, we’re GM, we’re GM, we’re GM. And we’re doing GM stuff in there to make us adapt to GM style. And in the long run, they told us, ‘Sorry, you’re not,’” said union worker Wendy Smith, agreeing that she felt lied to.

“If I thought I was a part of the team and I all of a sudden was told I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be very happy,” said auto industry analyst David Cole.

He said he understands the Wyoming workers’ frustrations, but said auto makers have to stay competitive.

“It’s extremely important that you don’t price yourself out of the competitive marketplace because it’s amazingly competitive today,” Cole said. “Many years ago, (UAW leader) Walter Reuther said, ‘I can negotiate a$100 an hour wage, there would just be no jobs.’ And we’re still in that kind of an environment.”

But Wyoming workers said they think GM can afford to include them in the deal.

“We make record profits out of that building down there and for them to put that in there, it’s like a slap in the face to us,” union worker David Brown said.

It’s unclear when a definitive deal will be approved, but it should be sometime soon. The Wyoming employees do not have a say in the contract and will have to work with whatever’s decided.

The UAW declined comment Thursday night and GM did not return requests for comment.

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