General Motors UAW Strike

Workers and their supporters picket outside a General Motors facility in Langhorne, Pa., Monday, Sept. 23, 2019.

The United Auto Workers’ strike against General Motors may be nearing an end after a month after it was announced late Wednesday a tentative agreement had been reached. One day later, however, that announcement might prove premature.

A major sticking point for the union is GM’s plan to close its Lordstown Assembly Plant in Ohio. The plant currently assembles the Chevrolet Cruze, but that model is scheduled to be discontinued, after which GM plans to shutter it.

Despite an offer from GM that would offer buyouts to some Lordstown employees up to $75,000 upon closing the plant as reported by the Wall Street Journal, some Lordstown UAW members are pledging to vote against ratification of the proposed contract as reported by the Detroit Free Press.

“We just reached a Tentative Agreement with GM a short time ago, today, Wednesday, October 16, 2019,” a statement from UAW General Motors Division Vice President and Director Terry Dittes says on the UAW website. “We will go over the details when the Council meets tomorrow morning in Detroit.”

“In the meantime, continue the picket lines until after the UAW-GM National Council concludes business tomorrow, Thursday, October 17, 2019, and then you will receive further instructions.”

Specific details of GM’s proposed offer haven’t been divulged to the public, but news sources reported the automaker offered increased wages between 3 percent and 4 percent; promised it would not close the Detroit-Hamtramck “Poletown” Assembly Plant; and raised the cap of new and retained jobs from 5,400 to 9,000.

Additionally, senior employees would receive $11,000 bonuses upon ratification of the proposed contract. Temporary employees would receive $4,500 bonuses. Temporary full-time employees would be allowed to transfer to permanent status, and temporary part-time employees may convert to regular status. Temporary workers would also be granted an increase in paid and unpaid time off.

GM was able to maintain its current 3 percent employee copayment for health care, considered to be among the most generous employee benefits in the nation. The union had sought to increase GM’s copayments from its current 97 percent. Despite GM’s assuming the lion’s share of health care costs, the Wall Street Journal reports GM’s 46,000 UAW employees continue to pay approximately $900 million for medical costs each year.

Until the proposed contract is presented to UAW rank and file for a ratification vote, the strike will continue.

Regional Editor

Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.