UAW set to strike General Motors at midnight
CNN reported today that the United Auto Workers union will walk out of General Motors plants at midnight, in the first strike since 2007—which would also make it the first strike at the post-bankruptcy General Motors. Their prior contract expired this morning.
The head of the union negotiating team cites large gaps on pay, health benefits, the use of temporary employees to avoid higher pay and benefits, profit-sharing, and job security. GM has recently shut down the Lordstown, Ohio assembly plant and is slated to close its Detroit plant early next year.
The Chevrolet Sonic is still union-made in Michigan.
GM’s most recent stated offer included higher profit sharing; new coverage for autism therapy, chiropractic care, and allergy testing; a one-time distribution of $8,000 to each UAW member; and $7 billion in investments through the life of the contract (upgrading plants for new models can cost billions of dollars). GM has had $35 billion in profits from automotive operations in the past three years, but like other automakers is preparing for a recession.
CNN claimed that GM offered to build an electric truck in the Detroit plant and batteries for it in Lordstown, but those projects would be around four years away and could presumably be postponed. Lordstown could become the first union battery cell plant in the United States. Chances are, though, that GM would carry through with these plans regardless of the negotiation outcomes.
Contracts with Ford and FCA US were extended as part of the “pattern bargaining” system where one automaker is chosen, usually in alternation, for the hardest negotiations. Any concessions from the union or that automaker are usually applied to the others.
Clark Westfield grew up fixing up and driving past-their-prime American cars, including an F-body Camaro and Mopar V8s. He has ghostwritten auto news for the last few years, lives in Farmingdale, New York, and can be reached at +1.516-531-4021.