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UAW and General Motors reach tentative agreement

09/17/11

DETROIT -- The UAW is pleased to announce that the UAW General Motors National Negotiating Committee, made up of elected representatives from UAW GM locations across the country, reached a tentative agreement with General Motors Co. today at approximately 11 p.m.

"In these uncertain economic times for American workers and faced with the globalization of the economy, the UAW approached these negotiations with new strategies and fought for and achieved some of our major goals for our members, including significant investments and products for our plants," said UAW President Bob King.

"First and foremost, as America struggles with record levels of unemployment, we aimed to protect the jobs of our members - to guarantee good American jobs at a good American company. And we have done that. This contract will get our members who have been laid off back to work, will create new jobs in our communities and will bring work back to the United States from other countries," King added.

"When GM was struggling, our members shared in the sacrifice. Now that the company is posting profits again, our members want to share in the success. To be clear, GM is prosperous because of its workers. It's the workers and the quality of the work they do, along with the sacrifices they made, that have returned this company to profitability," said UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, who directs the union's General Motors Department. "The wages and benefits we negotiated in this tentative agreement reflect the fact that it was UAW members who helped turn this company around.

"We wanted a contract that provides our members with a real share of the success of the company and ensures its continued success. Our members cannot succeed unless the company succeeds, and we are strongly committed to that joint success, as this contract demonstrates," Ashton added.

Details of the proposed agreement are being withheld until UAW members have had the opportunity to review it.  While not providing specifics of the tentative agreement, a few things are worth highlighting:

  • The UAW bargaining committee successfully fought back efforts to make major changes - and weaken - our retirement plan.  
  • The company proposed major concessions in health care, but the UAW is happy to report that the union not only fought for and protected the health care benefits of its members, but also made some significant improvements to health care benefits.  In both pensions and health care, the UAW was able to convince GM that far greater success could be achieved working together than by cutting pensions or health care. 
  • In addition, the agreement includes improved profit sharing with far greater transparency than in the past.

 

"We're proud of this agreement and are happy that it truly recognizes that the success of the company is tied to the success of the workers," said King. "As everyone knows, we have had, and will continue to have, some real differences with GM. It's the union's job to fight for workers and protect our members, and we will continue in that fight. To the credit of both parties, we were able to work through our differences and put together an agreement that is good both for our members and for the company. This agreement demonstrates to the anti-collective bargaining crowd that collective bargaining is a positive force for society that benefits both workers and employers.

"We prove again today that through the collective bargaining process, we can provide decent wages, benefits and employment rights for workers while ensuring quality products and healthy profits for employers. We stand recommitted to our goal of organizing and fighting for all workers in the entire U.S. auto industry," added King.

For decades the UAW played a central role in building America's middle class. At one time, all American auto workers were members of the UAW.

"We are proud of this tentative agreement and what we have achieved, but as long as unionized workers are being forced to compete with nonunion workers who in most cases receive lower pay and benefits - many in temporary jobs - there will continue to be a downward pressure on the wages and benefits of all autoworkers," King said. "The pathway to rebuilding America's middle class and creating long-term job security for all American autoworkers must include organizing workers at the foreign-owned automakers operating without unions in the United States.  We stand recommitted to that goal today."

"Finally," King said, "let's be completely clear about this: None of this would have been possible without the efforts of President Obama, who invested federal funds to help turn the company around, protect the auto supplier base and keep good-paying jobs in America."

The UAW represents approximately 48,500 GM workers in the United States.