UAW strike day 38: Flint local approves pact, other major GM plants vote Thursday

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

A new contract between General Motors Co. and 48,000 United Auto Workers members is encountering resistance from some major locals — with some rejecting the proposed four-year deal by decisive margins.

The UAW members at GM's Flint Assembly plant, where about 4,800 are employed, approved the contract by 61%, with the majority of skilled trades and production members approving it. 

Lansing Grand River Assembly also ratified a new contract with GM. Seventy-five percent of Local 652 members at Grand River voted in favor of the contract, with production and skilled trades members overwhelmingly approving the deal. Local 652 represents about 1,390 hourly employees at Grand River.

More:UAW vote tracker

Meanwhile, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, members of Local 2164 rejected the contract, with 55% voting no. Skilled trades members voted 52% against, and production employees voted 55% against. GM's Bowling Green plant has about 888 hourly employees.

And members at Local 1097 in Rochester, New York, rejected the new contract with only 17% voting in favor of the deal. Local 1097 represents 842 employees at Rochester Operations, which produces components for GM. 

The rejections increase pressure for major locals in Fort Wayne; Indiana; Arlington; Texas; and Wentzville, Missouri, to approve the deal by Friday afternoon — or force the bargaining committee to reopen talks with GM amid a strike approaching its seventh week come Monday.

A trend is emerging. Production employees at Lansing Redistribution Center represented by the Local 1753 voted 55% against the contract; skilled trades voted 58% in favor of it. The center has 166 hourly employees.

Local 1853 members at the Spring Hill Assembly Plant outside Nashville in Tennessee rejected the contract with 51% voting no. Spring Hill employs about 3,300. GM plans to invest in Spring Hill to build the next-generation midsize SUV, according to the proposed contract.

Bill Jackson, of St. Louis, gives a thumbs up to drivers that wave or honk as United Auto Workers outside the GM Wentzville Assembly Center in Wentzville, Mo.,  Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. UAW workers have been on strike since Sept. 16, but have reached a tentative deal with GM today. Workers expressed cautious optimism, but will likely remain on the picket line until an official deal has been reached. (Cristina M. Fletes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

Members of Local 14 at GM's Toledo Transmission plant approved the contract 80% to 20%. Both skilled trades and production members overwhelmingly approved the contract. 

UAW Local 160 representing GM employees at the Warren Technical Center overwhelmingly voted in favor of the new contract with 84% voting yes. Skilled trades members passed the contract with 85% voting yes and non-trades members approved it with 81% voting yes. Based on the numbers on Local 160's website, the unit had a 78% voting turnout.

Members of the Local 668 at the Saginaw Metal Casting Operations passed the contract with 73% of skilled-trades members and 75% of production members approving.

The UAW wants all ballots turned in by 4 p.m. Friday. UAW leaders voted to keep its roughly 48,000 members out on strike while they vote on the contract. The contract is ratified if the combined majority of both skilled trades and production members approve it, but the UAW will renegotiate skilled trades issues if those members specifically vote it down. 

The new four-year deal with GM promises permanent jobs for temporary employees and eliminates the $12,000 cap on hourly profit-sharing payouts. It also promises an $11,000 bonus if members ratify the contract, which would more than offset the financial losses members took in the strike. Temporary workers would receive a bonus of $4,500 upon ratification.

The proposed contract would give 3% base-wage increases in the second and fourth years of the contract and would pay 4% lump-sum bonuses in the first and third years. It also allows GM to close four facilities: a parts distribution center in Fontana, California; Baltimore Operations in Maryland, Lordstown Assembly in northeast Ohio, and Warren Transmission in southeast Michigan.

With the strike now in its sixth week, East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group estimates that through Oct. 27, GM stands to lose $1.75 billion. Direct wage losses for all impacted employees at both GM and its suppliers are estimated at $989 million. Broken down, the UAW workforce is expected to lose $456 million and supplier employees $533 million.

Twitter: @bykaleahall