A person briefed on the talks says General Motors CEO Mary Barra is joining negotiators at the bargaining table, a sign that an agreement may be near to end a month-long strike.
Barra was with company President Mark Reuss. The person who didn't want to be identified because the talks are confidential, says both executives were in the room early Tuesday.
About 49,000 members of the United Auto Workers union walked off their jobs Sept. 16 after their four-year contract expired. The strike has shut down all of GM's U.S. factories and hampered production in Canada and Mexico.
UAW Vice President thanks striking workers in Sunday message
United Auto Workers Vice President Terry Dittes is thanking workers for their efforts in the ongoing strike against General Motors.
"You have sacrificed so much for this union, for the families, and for workers all across America," Dittes said.
Dittes said the 10% increase strike pay to $275 per week takes effect Sunday, the strike's 28th day.
This moves up the timing of a $25 weekly raise that had been planned to go into effect on Jan. 1.
"When we decided to strike, that was our last resort," Dittes said. "We were forced into that situation by General Motors. We will continue this fight until we know that we can satisfy your needs of your family."
The union also voted to allow members to take part-time jobs and continue to receive strike pay, as long as they perform their picket duty.
To watch the Vice President’s full message, click here.
GM: It's ‘critical’ to get back to manufacturing vehicles; UAW says stop playing games
General Motors issued an updated letter to employees as day 26 of the United Auto Workers strike continues.
Executive Vice President Gerald Johnson said in the letter the strike has been not only been hard on the company but the employee families, communities, as well as suppliers and dealers.
“We have advised the Union that it’s critical that we get back to producing quality vehicles for our customers. We are committed to the collective bargaining process, and we are committed to our future together,” Johnson wrote.
Johnson said the company made an offer before the contract deadline that GM felt was strong and has done more to address the issues that the union has brought to light.
In the offer, Johnson said it would increase wages and lump sum payments, preserve health care benefits without increasing out-of-pocket costs, enhance profit sharing with unlimited upside, and improve the ratification bonus.
The offer also included a path for temporary workers to permanent employment with a ratification bonus.
Read the full letter here.
The UAW issued the following statement in response to GM:
"Since the beginning of this negotiation, GM has not taken the issue of our more than 48,000 members seriously. In fact, at every step of the way, GM has attempted to undermine the ongoing, good-faith efforts the UAW has made to end this strike.
The company’s strategy from day one has been to play games at the expense of the workers. It has released half-truths, ripped away health care in the middle of the night and it reverted to previously weak and unacceptable proposals in response to the UAW’s comprehensive solutions.
Our members are ready to get back to work, but GM is purposefully stalling the process to starve UAW-GM workers off the picket lines to protect millions of dollars of corporate bonuses.
These delaying tactics have human costs. Families are suffering, from Detroit to Texas to New York. This strike has been and continues to be about securing the American workers’ future.
The UAW continues to stay at the table night and day to get a good deal for our workers and to end this strike. We demand fair, middle class wages, quality benefits, a better pathway for temporary workers and job security.
Our workers are behind us in this fight for a strong deal:
- Brian Kennedy – Aurora, CO: “We’re all out here doing our duty,” says Brian Kennedy, a spokesman for UAW Local 431. “We’re in support of our leadership; we know that they’re going to do the right thing. GM upper management is doing more damage to their public perception than they would really want.” … “The better unions do, the better everybody does. The rising tide lifts all boats.”
- Ben Wells – Lake Orion, MI: “When I started, I made fourteen dollars and twelve cents an hour,” said Ben Wells. “I worked directly across the line from a woman who made twenty-eight dollars. We did the exact same job—and she had a full pension.”
- Teddy Maldonado – Buffalo, NY: “I’m thankful during this time that I can depend on my UAW brothers and sisters. When GM cut our health care coverage, the UAW stepped up to provide medical assistance. That’s what it means to have our back. If you know a UAW worker or their family, it’s time to support one another. Whether they are your neighbor, your friend or your family member, now is the time to stand together and support them as they fight for their fair share.”
It was our members and the American taxpayer who made their own sacrifices to protect this company in its darkest days. It’s time GM stops playing games and starts believing in and investing in the future of our members."
On Oct. 10, the 24th day of the strike against General Motors, company CEO Mary Barra called United Auto Workers union President Gary Jones and Vice President Terry Dittes for a face-to-face meeting — their first since the strike began, according to three sources familiar with the meeting CNN reported.
GM reverses course, says strikers will keep health coverage
General Motors now says striking workers will get company-paid health insurance, nine days after saying coverage would be cut off.
The company says in an email to the United Auto Workers union that it will keep benefits in place due to significant confusion among members. The letter says employee health and well-being are GM's top priorities.
Workers howled and politicians criticized GM after the company said it would end benefits the day after the strike began Sept. 16.
It's standard procedure for health care costs to shift to the union in a strike. The United Auto Workers' website says the union would pick up the cost of premiums.
A person briefed on the negotiations says they're haggling about wages and profit sharing, new product for factories that GM wants to close, a faster route to full wages for new hires, and use of temporary workers. The person didn't want to be identified because details of the bargaining are confidential.
More than 49,000 workers walked off their jobs on Sept. 16 in a dispute over the union's quest to get a bigger share of GM's profits and the company's goal of cutting labor costs so they're closer to those at U.S. auto plants run by foreign companies. The move paralyzed production at about 30 manufacturing sites in nine states.
This is the first work stoppage in the US auto industry in 12 years.
The union said GM was putting profits ahead of employees who helped to turn the company around when it went through bankruptcy and federal bailout a decade ago.
“We stood up for General Motors when they needed us most. Now we are standing together in unity and solidarity for our Members, their families and the communities where we work and live,” UAW Vice President Terry Dittes said.
The company said it made a substantial offer that includes more than $7 billion in U.S. investments, more than 5,400 jobs, higher pay, improved benefits and more. It also promised a "solution" for two of the four plants currently slated for closure: one in Detroit and another in Lordstown, Ohio.
The company did not say what the solution would be. But a person familiar with GM's offer said it included a promise to build a new electric truck at Detroit Hamtramck, and to build new batteries for electric vehicles in Lordstown. That work wouldn't start immediately, so the plants would likely remain dark for some time. Work would start sometime in the next four years if the offer is accepted.
The company released the following statement to the media:
"We presented a strong offer that improves wages, benefits and grows U.S. jobs in substantive ways and it is disappointing that the UAW leadership has chosen to strike at midnight tonight. We have negotiated in good faith and with a sense of urgency. Our goal remains to build a strong future for our employees and our business."
Consumers are likely to start seeing shortages of some vehicles on dealer lots, including large SUVs, according to the Associated Press.
GM announced plans in November of 2018 to shut the Detroit and Lordstown assembly plants, along with transmission plants in Baltimore and Warren, Michigan.
The UAW has vowed that keeping the plants open would be a key bargaining demand.
“We told UAW GM members that we would stand up for them and their future,” President of the UAW Gary Jones said.
“We have been clear at the table about what GM members have indicated we will accept. We are standing up for what is right. We as local unions will sacrifice to stand up for what we deserve,” said National Bargaining Committee Chair Ted Krumm.
GM says its average hourly employee earns about $90,000 per year, not including benefits. But the number of hourly workers at GM has declined sharply in recent decades, due to a combination of automation, lost market share and outsourcing. But GM still builds the overwhelming majority of cars it sells in the US market in North America. And it has far more factories in the United States than it does in Mexico or Canada.
The union had earlier extended the contracts at two other US automakers with UAW contracts, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, as it targeted GM in an effort to reach a deal that would set a pattern for the industry.
All three automakers are dealing with slower sales and the need to make huge multi-billion-dollar investments in developing electric and self-driving vehicles that have more long-term potential than current market demand.
It was the need to save money for those efforts that GM halted operations at three US plants — including the assembly line in Lordstown, and announced plans to shut the Hamtramck plant, its last Detroit factory, early next year.
But negotiations come as the union is hit by a scandal involving misappropriation of union funds, and in some cases, union officials accepting bribes from officials at Fiat Chrysler. Nine people associated with the union or Fiat Chrysler have already pleaded guilty to federal charges.
The Detroit News reported the union's president, Gary Jones, was the unnamed union official identified in the most recent indictment as "UAW Official A." The union has not responded to a request for comment about that report.
Experts say the scandal will make it more difficult to get rank and file union members at the automakers to ratify any tentative deal reached by union leadership. Four years ago the deals all passed by only narrow margins, even though there was no scandal at that time.
The last strike 12 years ago lasted only three days, but some strikes against GM in the past have stretched on for months. For many of the employees hired since 2007, this is their first work stoppage.
Meantime, ripple-effect layoffs continue during the strike. UAW Local 659 confirms more than 1,000 employees from other companies have been temporarily laid off.
Lear: 625 workers
Android/Avanchez: 300+ workers
Universal Dedicated: 259 workers
ACC Truck: 45 workers
Tim Nash, economist and director of the MacNair Center at Northwood University, said a strike isn’t in the best interest for either party.
“The workers are automatically going to, on average, going to lose 70-80% of their pay when they go on strike,” Nash said. “General Motors loses about 400-million a day in annual revenue in North America.”
Nash said if this strike follows through and lasts more than a month, it’ll begin to affect salaried employees and businesses who work with the automotive giant.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is throwing her support behind the UAW workers. The Democrat visited United Auto Workers members picketing outside Flint on Sept. 22.
Mayor Karen Weaver released the following statement on the strike:
“I stand in solidarity with the many men and women who are on the picket line. Unions are the backbone of our community, they ensure that our families and loved ones are treated fairly and given their proper respect for the service they provide.
Every worker has the right to healthcare, a fair and equal wage, and job security. It is my hope that General Motors and the UAW are able to quickly come to an agreement because of the significant impact that this has on our community.
Flint has always been a union town and we will remain union strong by standing with our auto workers.”
She also wrote a letter to GM CEO Mary Barra:
Ms. Mary Barra
Chair and CEO of General Motors
Dear Ms. Barra,
It is with much gratitude that I write this letter to express my appreciation for GM's reconsideration and reinstatement of health care benefits to United Auto Workers (UAW) across this country. It is my hope that this is just an initial step to a path of swift resolution.
I should let you know that since 12 midnight on September 15th, when the first workers walked out of the GM Flint Assembly plant, I have been with these workers in show of support for a fair contract for workers. Since last Friday, my Chief Public Health Advisor and I have been talking with those on the line and to hear the stories of how their loss of health care benefits impacted them and their families was disheartening.
As you know both the UAW and GM hold a special place in the hearts and history of our City, the City of Flint, a City known for its fight, resiliency, and ability to come together to overcome setbacks. It is with this same spirit of grit and unity that I know that you will continue to work to resolve the differences before you and the UAW and again I commend you on this first and huge step forward.
In closing, I would like to avail myself in any way that you feel that I may assist in keeping our men and women working under fair conditions and producing cars here in the US.
Karen W. Weaver, Mayor
City of Flint
"I just love the union" said Mona Hernandez.
Hernandez strongly believes in the union and what it stands for. She said even though she doesn't work for GM she wanted to come out and help the union members strike in Flint.
"I work for another company that hauls the trucks out of here. I'm just here to show my support and my love for these guys," Hernandez said.
"We're just looking for a fair deal," said GM employee Steve Sauvageau.
Saucageau drives the hi-lo at the GM plant in Flint. He has worked there for 12 years. He said he believes his benefits keep dwindling and is demanding change.
Workers would like more profit sharing and annual pay raises.
"Well the company wants to take things away from us. And we have people that work really hard around here," Savageau said. "If we all stand together because we just want a fair shake."
"I am proud of every single on of my fellow members who is out here," said Tony Mann, president of UAW local 668.
Mann said 514 members from his local are on strike.
They are out in force at GM's Saginaw Metal Casting Operations.
"We bailed out General Motors in their time of need. Now it's time for General Motors to return the favor and start giving back," Mann said.
Local 668 is receiving support from other union members in the community.
"We just support the working people of Saginaw County and the state of Michigan as a whole," said Justin Pomerville, with HVACR Service Technician local 85.
Some of the members from Pomerville's union joined in to walk the picket line.
"Just happy to be out here. I hope General Motors and the UAW settle and God bless organized labor," Pomerville said.
Mann said it's great to have the community support.
"That lets us know that the community is behind us. That lets us know that we're doing the right thing. And that lets us know that we are a driving force in this community," Mann said.
Eventually an agreement will be reached and when that happens Mann said he hopes his temporary members can obtain full-time employment.
"We have members that have been temporary employees for anywhere from three to five years, and in my book if you've worked somewhere that long, you're not a temporary employee," Mann said.
Striking workers question whether UAW leaders can be trusted
The strike against General Motors by the United Auto Workers is playing out amid a corruption scandal inside the UAW that has caused distrust of the union leadership among many rank-and-file members.
On picket lines at plants across the country, many of the 49,000 workers have expressed doubts about whether leaders are acting in their best interests.
Some have gone so far as to wonder whether the leadership took them out on strike to show that the union is working for them.
Last month, the FBI raided the suburban Detroit home of the UAW president. He has not been charged. Earlier this month, a union official in Missouri was charged in a $600,000 embezzlement scheme, and another leader pleaded guilty to taking kickbacks.
The UAW, in its defense, says union members authorized the walkout.
Workers temporary laid off as strike continues
A local delivery service for GM has temporarily laid off some of its workers.
"I can confirm 107 unionized truck drivers from ACC, a division of Penske Logistics, are on temporary layoff in Flint and Saginaw as a result of the GM strike, said Randolph Ryerson, director of corporate communications for Penske.