UAW members in Fairfax, Lansing split on GM contract
Thousands of General Motors Co. hourly workers will vote Monday on a tentative agreement, which financially is richer than the company’s 2011 contract and what Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV employees ratified, but so far has received mixed support from UAW members at two GM assembly plants.
UAW hourly employees at GM’s first two assembly plants to vote on a new tentative agreement split their votes: Lansing Grand River Assembly favored it, but Fairfax Assembly in Kansas City, Kansas voted it down by a 2-1 margin.
GM Flint Assembly, Arlington Assembly, Orion Assembly and Toledo Transmission employees are among UAW members slated to vote on the deal Monday. Still other locals will vote later in the week.
The tentative agreement, if ratified nationally, would provide 52,600 members a larger bonus from the 2011 contract, raises and would move entry-level workers to the same health care plan as veteran workers.
As was the case with the first failed Fiat Chrysler pact, some GM employees are voicing their concerns about the contract on social media and are encouraging people to vote “no.” Some are upset over a different pay scale at four GM Components Holdings plants and others appear to think veteran GM and skilled trades workers should have gotten more in the tentative deal.
April Spiess, a tier-one or veteran worker at Lansing Grand River, said she voted no on the contract because it didn’t change vacation policy; she wanted to see vacation options to use whenever she wants, not when during shutdown periods. But Spiess said she is happy the vote passed at her plant.
“It was nice to see raises back,” said Spiess, 40, of Laingsburg, who has worked for GM for 15 years. “That’s a good thing.”
The UAW’s tentative agreement for GM hourly workers includes an $8,000 signing bonus for all workers and $2,000 for temporary workers; pay raises for veteran workers consisting of two 3 percent increases in the first and third years of the contract and two 4 percent lump-sum payments in years two and four. The deal includes the gradual elimination of the pay gap between veteran workers and new hires, allowing entry-level, or two-tier workers to reach a top wage of about $29 an hour in eight years.
It also includes annual performance bonuses of $1,000 and an additional $500 bonus when quality metrics are reached. If ratified, GM will offer up to 4,000 eligible employees a $60,000 early retirement incentive and will invest $1.9 billion in U.S. facilities, creating or retaining 3,300 jobs at 12 plants.
Industry analysts last week told The Detroit News they thought the contract, while costly to GM, was good for GM workers and they expected it to pass. Some workers on social media say they will support the deal given the bonuses and pay increases. The union also has been posting information about the economic gains in the contract on Facebook pages.
Todd McDaniel, chairman of the UAW-GM National negotiating committee and chair of UAW Local 362 representing Bay City Powertrain employees, posted on a Facebook page a message trying to quell some people who have said they will vote “no” to get a better deal.
“I firmly believe that this agreement has all of the total cash value that we will get without a strike,” McDaniel wrote. “I also believe that even with a strike if we gain anything, and I am very doubtful of that, it will come at great cost.”
McDaniel, in the post, mentioned that a strike could last weeks or months and likely lacks public support and that workers may not get any job guarantees after a strike.
“Our job as a bargaining committee is to bring our members the best possible agreement while maintaining job security, and that is exactly what this contract offers. It provides significant gains for ALL MEMBERS,” he wrote. “I ask that you look at the whole package, not just what you didn't get but the package as a whole. Wages, bonuses, holidays, vacation, profit sharing, transfer right, seniority agreements and, above all, Job Security.”
At Fairfax Assembly, home of the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse, 37 percent of production workers voted “yes” and 63 percent voted “no” on the national agreement. The result among skilled trades workers was similar, with 34 percent voting “yes” and 66 percent voting “no,” according to results posted on UAW Local 31’s Facebook page. The plant employs about 3,230 hourly workers.
UAW Local 31 leaders could not be reached for comment over the weekend.
Mike Green, UAW Local 652 president, said Saturday that 57 percent of hourly members at Lansing Grand River voted “yes” on the deal. The Lansing Grand River plant has about 1,570 employees.
“The members have spoken,” Green said. “They passed it.”
A handout reviewed by The News of UAW Local 652 results shows 58 percent of production employees voted “yes,” while 52 percent of skilled trades voted “no.” The local tallied 1,098 votes.
Lansing Grand River members who build the Cadillac ATS, CTS and Chevrolet Camaro voted Friday on the pact, just two days after the UAW National GM Council approved the tentative agreement Wednesday. Hourly employees at the Fairfax plant voted on the tentative agreement Friday into Saturday morning.
The union and GM approved the tentative agreement late Oct.25, averting a possible strike.
More informational meetings are slated at some local unions into the week, with most voting appearing to wrap up by Friday.
Fiat Chrysler UAW members overwhelmingly ratified a deal — a second agreement after the first tentative agreement was voted down by a 2-to-1 margin — with the union that was announced Oct. 22. In the second vote, 77 percent of production workers voted “yes;” skilled trades supported it by 72 percent; and salaried bargaining supported it at 87 percent.
The union may wait to begin final negotiations with Ford Motor Co. on a tentative agreement until after GM’s voting is completed. The contract expired Sept. 14 and Ford is working under an extension.