Strike by workers who said they wanted a fair share of companys $25bn profits, started 16 September and reportedly cost GM more than $2bn
The strike by more than 48,000 workers started 16 September and has so far cost GM more than $2bn, according to Wall Street estimates. It closed 34 GM plants across the US, forced suppliers to idle workers and disrupted operations in Mexico and Canada. Union members have been getting by on $275 a week in strike pay during the longest strike against GM since 1970. Some will return to work as soon as Saturday.
While a majority voted to ratify the agreement, some said they were dissatisfied with the outcome. A worker speaking on the condition of anonymity said he felt the return on six weeks of striking wasnt worth it because GM is still sticking it to the little guy just in a fancier way.
He questioned why the union had agreed to close three plants and called the contract vague in key areas. He said the deal did not guarantee full-time employment for many temporary workers, and that language on job security was unclear. While GM plans to invest $3bn in its Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which had been scheduled to close, the employee noted that the contract did not spell out when retooling would start or how many employees would run the plant.
He said: I thought this strike was going to be revolutionary, a history-maker, because thats the feeling I had when we walked out. I thought America was due for a revolution and our strike was going to be it.
Terry Dittes, UAW vice-president and the director of the UAW-GM department, said: General Motors members have spoken. 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.
Employees receiving lower pay have said they see fewer wins in the proposed deal; many voted against it. Those in plants slated for closure also opposed it in large numbers.
The strike came as UAW and GM argued over pay, healthcare benefits, the treatment of temporary workers, the closure of car plants and GMs use of foreign manufacturers. The union stressed that its members made sacrifices as the company struggled during the recession. GM has pulled in over $25bn in profits over the last two and a half years, and workers said they were striking for a fair share of the companys hefty returns.
The four-year deal which will serve as a model as the UAW negotiates contracts with Ford and Fiat-Chrysler includes 3% base wage increases during years two and four, and an $11,000 bonus upon ratification for full-time employees. Temporary workers will receive $4,500. Under the proposal, GM will invest $7.7bn in US factories, the Detroit-Hamtramck plant will be saved from closure, and temporary workers will be given a path to permanent employment.
But GMs plant in Lordstown, Ohio will remain closed, as will plants in Baltimore and Warren, Michigan. GM has made no commitment to keep jobs in the US and will continue to build up production in Mexico.