UAW-GM ratification held up by skilled trades
A majority of General Motors Co. hourly production workers have supported a tentative agreement with the United Auto Workers, but ratification has hit a snag. A majority of skilled trades voted against the contract, and that could potentially send the union and automaker back to the bargaining table.
The UAW said late Friday that 58.3 percent of production workers voted for the deal, while 59.5 percent of skilled trades workers voted against. The overall percentage of workers was 55.4 percent in favor of the pact.
The UAW said in a statement Friday that it has not ratified GM’s agreement but will hold meetings with skilled trades members at each plant to determine “what reason(s) they had for rejection of the tentative agreement. Once that inquiry has concluded, the UAW’s International Executive Board shall meet to determine what appropriate steps shall be taken. The results of this process cannot change aspects of the agreement which are common to all members.”
UAW President Dennis Williams and Vice President Cindy Estrada held a conference call Friday afternoon with UAW local presidents and shop chairs from across GM, advising them to hold plant meetings with skilled trades workers by early next week, according to two sources familiar with the call. The meetings are necessary to determine why skilled trades appear to be voting down the contract, according to the sources.
The union wants to determine if skilled trades are voting against the pact because of skilled trades issues or monetary issues, according to the sources.
Both skilled trades and production workers must ratify the deal separately for ratification. Each group has parts of the contract tailored to their classifications. However, the UAW can overrule a rejection by skilled trades workers if the union finds they voted against it for reasons other than issues unique to skilled trades. It overruled such rejections in 2011 and 1973 contracts.
A GM spokeswoman would not comment specifically on the skilled trades rejection.
“General Motors is pleased that a majority of UAW-represented employees recognize the benefits of the 2015 UAW-GM national agreement and voted in favor of it,” the automaker said in a statement late Friday.
“This is kind of unprecedented,” said Art Schwartz, a former labor negotiator with GM and president of Labor and Economics Associates. “They’re in uncharted waters. Technically it’s not ratified until they’ve cleared this up.”
In 2011, 55.6 percent of skilled trades workers at Chrysler Group LLC (now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US) voted against the deal. But in a combined vote tally, Chrysler’s production and skilled trades workers voted 54.8 percent in favor of the contract. The union’s International Executive Board then had to evaluate the intent of the “no” ballots.
The board determined that skilled trades workers voted the contract down primarily due to economic issues instead of issues unique to skilled trades workers. Then-UAW President Bob King and the board ratified the whole contract because skilled trades can only veto a pact based on their portion, not shared areas such as raises, vacation days and attendance policies.
Local unions representing more than 8,000 workers at Lordstown Assembly in Ohio, Lansing Delta Township Assembly and a GM Components Holdings facility in Lockport, New York, had a majority of workers support the agreement, with mixed results from skilled trades workers. A majority of workers at GM’s Marion Metal Center voted against the deal.
About 932 workers at GM’s Marion Metal Center, represented by Local 977, voted against the deal by a 48 percent to 52 percent margin. About 52 percent of production workers voted against it, while 51 percent of skilled trades workers voted “no.”
UAW Local 602 Friday morning reported 53 percent of ballots cast were in favor of the deal, with 54 percent of production workers supporting; and 57 percent of skilled trades workers against. The local represents about 3,000 workers at the plant near Lansing.
UAW Locals 1714 and 1112, which both represent more than 4,100 workers in Lordstown, overall supported the pact but a majority of skilled trades workers at one opposed it.
Local 1714 early Friday reported 751 members (65.5 percent) voted for ratification, with 601 production (67.9 percent) and 150 skilled trades (57.4 percent) workers casting “yes” ballots. Local 1112 reported 72 percent of workers supported the pact overall, with 74 percent of production workers for the deal; but only 29 percent of skilled trades workers supporting the agreement. The local did not provide the total number of votes.
The UAW had been
The deal has won the support of UAW-GM members from some large GM facilities such as the Fort Wayne Assembly Plant in Indiana, Spring Hill Assembly in Tennessee, Wentzville Assembly in Missouri and the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant. A majority of workers at some plants such as Fairfax Assembly and Bowling Green Assembly have voted against the contract.
On Thursday, Tonawanda powertrain plant in New York narrowly supported a tentative agreement with the UAW, with 51 percent of members voting “yes” on Thursday. Production employees at the plant supported the contract, with 58 percent voting “yes,” while 79 percent of skilled trades workers voted against the deal. Tonawanda powertrain’s about 1,564 hourly workers are represented by UAW Local 774.
About 3,400 employees at the four GM Components Holdings LLC plants are among the most vocally upset over the contract, which includes a different pay scale for workers. GMCH workers, many of whom expected to receive substantial raises, would top out at $19.86 an hour. Some may receive raises totaling a few dollars over the course of the contract but are not on the same path to $29 an hour over eight years as entry-level employees would be.
Local 292 in Kokomo, Indiana, overwhelmingly voted against the proposed deal by 81.4 percent overall. Nearly 330 production workers for the company’s GM Components Holdings plant, with 84.8, or 279 people, voting against the deal. For skilled trades workers, 127 ballots were cast, with 72.4 percent (92 people) opposing the tentative agreement. Kokomo has about 758 hourly workers represented by UAW Local 292
A majority of workers at GM’s components plant near Grand Rapids also overwhelmingly voted against the deal, with 80 percent of ballots cast opposing the deal. According to Local 167, which represents about 400 workers at the plant, 90 percent (241 people) of production and 51 percent (48 people) of skilled trades workers voted against the deal.
About 919 workers at a GMCH plant in Lockport, New York, voted for the deal by a 56 percent to 43 percent margin. About 55 percent of production workers voted in favor of the deal while 63 percent of skilled trades workers voted “yes.”
The deal also did not win support at the Rochester Components Holdings plant in New York. Hourly workers there cast 196 ballots for the deal, or just 28.3 percent vs. 489 votes or 70.7 percent against the deal. UAW Local 1097, which represents less than 900 workers at the facility, said 1 percent of votes cast were voided.
If ratified, the deal between the union and GM includes the first hourly wage increase in nearly a decade for veteran workers, an $8,000 signing bonus for all workers and $2,000 for temporary workers, and the elimination of the pay gap between veteran workers and newer hires over eight years.
It also would move entry-level workers to the same health care plan as veteran workers in January, award workers an annual $1,000 performance bonus and an additional $500 bonus when quality targets are met, and offer up to 4,000 eligible employees a $60,000 early retirement bonus.
The pact includes $1.9 billion of investment by GM in its U.S. facilities, creating or retaining 3,300 jobs at a dozen plants through the contract.
Staff Writer Michael Martinez contributed.
Warren Tech Center
GMCH Grand Rapids
Lansing Delta Twp. Assembly
Lansing Grand River
Several Flint plants
Saginaw Metal Casting
Marion Metal Center
Parma Metal Center
Spring Hill Assembly
Bowling Green Assembly
Fort Wayne Assembly