Union workers are poised to reject the deal

In another extension of the strike in Arlington, Texas on October 24, 2023, members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) went on strike at the General Motors assembly plant that makes the full range of sport utility vehicles for the American automaker.

James Breedon | Reuters

DETROIT – Members of the United Auto Workers at General Motors are close to voting on a tentative union contract that ended nearly six weeks of labor strikes against the automaker.

Majorities of UAW members at several major GM plants have voted against the contract. The facilities represent a combined 18,580, or 40%, of GM’s 46,000 unionized employees.

Voting results at several smaller GM facilities and an SUV plant in Arlington, Texas, are unknown or not yet finalized. Several smaller facilities and assembly plants in Michigan and Kansas have voted in favor of the deal.

The UAW declined to comment. GM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rejecting the deal reached on Oct. 30 would prolong a historically contentious round of negotiations between the UAW and the Detroit automakers. Similar tentative deals at Ford Motor Company and Stellar’s Co. have so far garnered high voter approval among those automakers’ unionized workers.

As of Wednesday morning, the UAW had not been updated Its poll watcher GM had to replicate several plants that voted against the deal. As of midday Tuesday — most workers at GM’s Corvette plant in Kentucky, Buick and Chevrolet crossover plants in Michigan and truck plants in Missouri and Indiana voted against the deal — the deal had 52% approval.

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UAW members rejecting temporary contracts has become more common in recent years: Fiat Chrysler, now Stellandis workers, rejected a contract during negotiations in 2015, and Mack Trucks rejected a contract proposal last month.

If the GM deal is voted down, UAW President Shawn Fine and other union leaders will have to decide how to advance a better deal for GM’s unionized workers. They may resume strikes against the automaker, try to resume negotiations, or both.

All options for the union and the automaker are basically back on the table. The company could agree to restart negotiations, or it could follow what Mack Trucks did recently and submit a prior offer with no changes known as the “last best and final offer” — and send it back to members for a vote.

The UAW reached separate tentative agreements with each of the automakers, so each was voted on separately. They are not mutually exclusive.

The record deal at GM, like Ford and Stellandis, includes a 25% pay raise, cost-of-living adjustments and other benefits.

But UAW members, particularly veteran workers, balked at the deal, citing inflated expectations created by Fine’s ultimately unsuccessful call for a 32-hour work week and better pension benefits.

GM has the largest number of traditional workers by percentage, followed by Ford and Stellantis. Stellandis also relies heavily on temporary workers, who are often converted to full-time employees and eligible for higher wages at the end of their contracts.

A rejection at GM would be a black eye on negotiations for Fine. Although he said union members should have the final say on contracts, he and other union leaders have praised the historic deal, saying they bargained for every penny from automakers.

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During events with President Joe Biden last week and during a U.S. Senate committee hearing as the vote continued, Fein spoke about union contracts.

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