GM, United Auto Workers agree on new contract
The United Auto Workers said it had reached a new labor agreement with General Motors Co., although details of the settlement were being withheld, pending a ratification meeting with local union leaders.
The UAW’s old agreement expired Wednesday but the union was barred from striking under the terms of the $49.5 billion bailout of GM in 2009.
GM executives had said their main goal was to contain any growth of the company’s labor costs.
“In these uncertain economic times for American workers and faced with the globalization of the economy, the UAW approached these negotiations with new strategies and fought for and achieved some of our major goals for our members, including significant investments and products for our plants,” said UAW president Bob King in a statement after the settlement was reached.
“When GM was struggling, our members shared in the sacrifice. Now that the company is posting profits again, our members want to share in the success. To be clear, GM is prosperous because of its workers. It’s the workers and the quality of the work they do, along with the sacrifices they made, that have returned this company to profitability,” said UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, who directs the union’s General Motors Department.
“The wages and benefits we negotiated in this tentative agreement reflect the fact that it was UAW members who helped turn this company around,” he said.
“We wanted a contract that provides our members with a real share of the success of the company and ensures its continued success. Our members cannot succeed unless the company succeeds, and we are strongly committed to that joint success, as this contract demonstrates,” Ashton added.
Ashton also said the UAW rejected major changes that would have altered the company’s pension and rejected major concessions in health care, but the UAW is happy to report that the union not only fought for and protected the health care benefits of its members, but also made some significant improvements to health care benefits.
In addition, the agreement includes improved profit sharing with far greater transparency than in the past.
“We’re proud of this agreement and are happy that it truly recognizes that the success of the company is tied to the success of the workers,” said King.
“As everyone knows, we have had, and will continue to have, some real differences with GM,” he said. “We prove again today that through the collective bargaining process, we can provide decent wages, benefits and employment rights for workers while ensuring quality products and healthy profits for employers. We stand recommitted to our goal of organizing and fighting for all workers in the entire U.S. auto industry.”
King said the UAW has played a central role in building America’s middle class.
“We are proud of this tentative agreemen,” he said.
King, however, also said the union has been forced to compete with non-union workers who in most cases receive lower pay and benefits.
“There will continue to be a downward pressure on the wages and benefits of all autoworkers,” King said.