The strike between The United Auto Workers Union and General Motors is over. UAW-GM members voted to ratify the tentative agreement reached last week by a narrow 57 percent margin, according to The Detroit News. This brings to a close the longest GM strike in nearly a half-century, though with 43 percent of members voting against the deal, the four-year contract clearly has its detractors.
48,000 GM hourly employees walked off the job back in September over concerns on wages, health care, temporary employees gaining full-time status, and job security. To that end, the deal did see wage increases as well as an $11,000 bonus and a quicker path for temporary employees to reach full-time positions. Employee out-of-pocket health care costs remain among the lowest of any company in the United States. The main sticking point that apparently went unchecked was the job security issue, specifically with regards to GM’s recent plant closures. Only one location – the Hamtramck facility near Detroit – gained new allocations to stay open.
According to The Detroit News report, this final deal isn’t much different from the one GM originally presented to the UAW. The ensuing 40-day strike is estimated to have cost GM as much as $2 billion in profits. With the contract officially ratified, some hourly workers could be back on the job as early as Saturday.
“General Motors members have spoken,” said Terry Dittes, UAW vice president and director of the UAW-GM department in a statement. “We are all so incredibly proud of UAW-GM members who captured the hearts and minds of a nation. Their sacrifice and courageous stand addressed the two-tier wages structure and permanent temporary worker classification that has plagued working-class Americans.”
The UAW now turns its attention to Ford, which also has a contract deadline looming in the near future.