Oct 17, 2019

GM workers will remain on strike during vote at union halls

Workers from United Auto Workers Local 440 picket at an entrance of General Motors' Bedford Powertrain factory during national labor strike against GM. Photo: SOPA Images/Contributor/Getty Images

The United Auto Workers strike against General Motors will continue for at least another week as union members vote on whether to ratify a tentative contract agreement.

Why it matters: The unusual decision by some 200 local union leaders from GM plants around the country means the economic pain for the company, its employees and suppliers will continue to mount at least through Oct. 25, when voting at local union halls is scheduled to conclude.

Driving the news: GM and the UAW reached a tentative labor deal on Wednesday that provides raises and big bonuses with no increase in workers' out-of-pocket health care costs.

  • But it did not solve the contentious issue over plant closures throughout the United States.
  • Three of four plants that GM earmarked for closure last November will now be permanently shuttered.
  • No work is being transferred from Mexico, as UAW negotiators sought.
  • Missing from contract highlights provided to workers was any mention of GM's commitment to U.S. investments in plants or new products.
  • GM, according to a person familiar with the talks, had previously indicated the company would invest up to $9 billion in U.S. factories, including a battery facility in Lordstown, Ohio, near the site of its shuttered assembly plant.
  • A UAW spokesperson ducked questions about GM product commitments, saying the battery facility, for example, is not subject to the labor agreement.

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Rich payouts and plant closures in GM labor deal

Photo: United Auto Workers General Motors Training Center in Detroit, Michigan. Photo: Jeff Kowalsky/Contributor/ Getty Images

Factory workers at General Motors will receive big bonuses and keep their lucrative health benefits under a proposed four-year labor contract, but union bargainers were unable to rescue three U.S. factories slated for closure.

Why it matters: The deal ends the longest nationwide strike at GM in a half-century. But relations remain raw as the automaker and its workforce struggle to adjust to disruptive technology changes roiling the industry.

Go deeperArrowOct 17, 2019

GM labor deal could mean higher costs for all

UAW picket signs outside a GM plant in Detroit. Photo: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images

A tentative 4-year labor contract with the United Auto Workers lets GM shutter underutilized factories as it wanted, but could also lock in higher labor costs across the domestic auto industry.

Why it matters: Detroit typically follows "pattern" bargaining — the economic terms struck at one company are generally matched by other UAW-represented automakers, setting a uniform standard of living for all unionized auto workers.

Go deeperArrowOct 18, 2019

Detroit's gamble on the future

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The deal between one of Detroit's biggest automakers and striking workers is a calculated bet on a vision for the auto industry that's far from certain.

The big picture: GM can afford the rich contract terms negotiated with the United Auto Workers — as long as nothing goes wrong. Higher gas prices, an economic downturn or a new president with different priorities could throw off the entire equation and put GM and other domestic automakers in a financial bind.

Go deeperArrowOct 25, 2019