- Union workers at General Motors have ratified a record deal with the United Auto Workers after a contentious final few days of voting.
- Ratification of the deal was thrown into doubt Wednesday morning, after seven of GM’s 11 U.S. assembly plants rejected the deal.
- According to the UAW’s vote tracker, the deal was supported by about 54 percent of the more than 34,700 GM autoworkers who voted.
United Auto Workers members strike at the General Motors Lansing Delta assembly plant September 29, 2023 in Lansing, Michigan.
Bill Pugliano | Getty Images
DETROIT – Union workers at General Motors ratified a record deal with the United Auto Workers union after a contentious final days of voting, according to results released Thursday morning by the union.
Much like the negotiations themselves, the vote did not go as smoothly as many thought. The majority of the Detroit automaker’s large assembly plants rejected the deal, but that wasn’t enough to offset support from smaller facilities and a handful of other assembly plants.
Ratification of the deal was thrown into doubt Wednesday morning, after seven of GM’s 11 U.S. assembly plants rejected the deal. But a turnaround in voting results in favor of the deal, particularly at an SUV factory in Texas, gave the deal a much-needed lifeline.
According to the UAW’s vote tracker, the deal was supported by about 54 percent of the more than 34,700 GM autoworkers who voted. The results were still outstanding at two small GM facilities representing about 1,400 hourly workers, but would not be enough to make up the margin of about 2,500 votes.
The UAW and GM declined to comment on the results until they are finalized.
Voting on similar contracts at Ford Motor and Chrysler parent Stellantis is underway, with the support of about 67% of union workers at each automaker who voted Thursday morning, according to the union. Barring major changes or changes in participation, these agreements are likely to be adopted.
GM’s vote was closer, in part because of the demographics of the company’s workforce. The automaker has the highest number of traditional workers by percentage compared to its crosstown rivals. These workers expressed their disapproval of the salary increases granted to them by the agreements, compared to those offered to new recruits. They were also unhappy with pension contributions and retirement benefits.
For the union and UAW President Shawn Fain, these agreements represent significant economic gains. They include salary increases of 25%; a path to securing future jobs for union ranks such as battery factories; and a springboard to organize the efforts of other non-union automakers operating in the United States – a primary goal of Fain moving forward.
For both companies and their investors, these contracts represent the high end of expected increases in labor costs. Although automakers have repeatedly criticized the union’s tactics, including six weeks of targeted strikes, they should be able to absorb the cost increases. That’s not to say they won’t look to offset increases elsewhere in the form of future investment, restructuring and other means.
Ford Chief Financial Officer John Lawler said last month that the UAW deal, if ratified by members, would add $850 to $900 in costs per assembled vehicle. He said Ford would work to “find productivity, efficiency and cost reductions across the company” to offset additional costs and achieve previously announced profitability targets.
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