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UAW workers at General Motors ratify contract

The General Motors United Auto Workers on Thursday approved a contract that would usher in a new era of record wage gains and the elimination of levels that pay new workers less than those with experience.

A union vote tracker showed that more than 54 percent of the 35,000 UAW workers employed by General Motors who voted voted in favor of the contract, with final votes counted Thursday.

A General Motors spokesperson said the company declined to comment until the union formally announces the results of the ratification process.

Workers at five of the biggest factories voted against the deal in recent days, because some workers at those factories were disappointed that the deal did not secure more concessions for retirees, such as the restoration of pensions. This forces automakers to increase their contributions to 401(k) retirement accounts.

The deals mark the biggest pay gains the union has won in decades, including a 25 percent increase in base pay over 4 1/2 years.

Marc Robinson, a former General Motors economist and strategist, said he was surprised that so many UAW members voted against “such a rich contract,” but he attributed that to newly elected union president Shawn Fain, who publicly made very bold demands throughout the contract. fight for and set high standards for what workers could earn.

“(The union) probably got a better deal than usual because companies weren’t used to Fain’s strategy, but that came with the risk of raising members’ expectations,” Robinson said. “The close vote reflects extraordinarily high expectations.”

How a brash, little-known union leader secured record gains for auto workers

The contract comes after a long period when workers’ wages failed to keep up with inflation and after the union gave up some of its benefits during the Great Recession, when automakers were struggling to survive. The union managed to regain many of these benefits in the new agreements, including restoring regular cost-of-living wage adjustments to compensate for inflation. It also eliminated wage levels that placed new workers on a lower pay scale.

Another reason for the tough vote among GM workers is that UAW local leaders may not have effectively sold the deal to union members, Robinson said. This division could reflect the fact that “there is no unanimity within the UAW,” he said, noting that Fain only narrowly unseated his predecessor in the runoff elections. elections seven months ago.

The agreement also appears to offer UAW workers some protection as the industry converts to electric vehicles. Workers fear lower wages and job security at the sector’s new battery and electric vehicle factories. GM’s agreement includes provisions integrating some of these new plants into the union’s main contracts with automakers.

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