UAW autoworkers Willie Jackson, 63, and Martin Jackson, 68, both of Detroit take the stand in front of General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant on Wednesday, October 16, 2019. (Photo: Kimberly P. Mitchell, Detroit Free Press)
Thousands of UAW-GM workers may soon ask a single question : Is it time for me to retire?
If union members ratify a contract with General Motors next week, generous incentives – including a $ 60,000 bonus for some – may soon be in place to encourage many hourly workers to retire at the end of February.
The strike at GM – which continues through ratification votes next week – has had 46,000 UAW workers from work at 55 GM plants in 10 states since September 16.
According to the UAW contract for GM workers per hour, conditions include:
- A $ 60,000 pension bonus for up to 2000 eligible productions and 60 eligible qualified employees retiring between December 31 and February 28, 2020.
- Retired employees at three GM facilities that will close – including Warren Transmissio nine Macomb County – will be offered $ 75,000 for production workers and $ 85,000 for skilled workers if they exercise their right to resign.
Other special incentives are included for union members who worked at Warren Transmission, Lordstown Assembly Plant in Ohio, and Baltimore Transmission in Maryland.
Water beads by a UAW member on strike at the north gate of General Motors Flint Assembly on Wednesday 16 October 2019. (Photo: Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press)
The agreement includes a "membership assistance package" that specifically addresses the facilities that will officially close under the agreement. UAW noted that a "major focus of contract negotiations in 2019 was GM's abrupt announcement in November last year" regarding potential plant closures.
The plant closures will apply to employees who were active on November 28, 2018, and work at another GM plant or those who remain in a specified status after rejecting a placement offer at another GM plant, known as "L34" status.
(Left to right) General Motors Flint Assembly forklift driver Kim Vovillia, temp materials manager Selina Black and material driver Juli Chadwick smokes cigars that Vovillia distributed to some of her staff while on strike outside General Motors Flint Assembly on Wednesday 16 October 2019. "Almost there. Almost there," Vovillia said after a preliminary agreement was reached with GM about possibly ending the strike. (Photo: Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press)
If someone at a closed facility does not have 30 years of service to receive full pension, for example, the agreement will provide additional incentives for those aged 28 or 29.
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These agreements apply to those who are able to "grow into retirement."
For example, employees who had 28 years of service but less than 29 years per year. September 14 would be eligible for payouts of $ 3000 a month if they agree to withdraw after 30 years of service.
Employees who "grow into retirement" would be placed on leave while receiving these payments. In addition, they will continue to receive health benefits until they began retirement after 30 years of service.
UAW PR official Brian Rothenberg speaks at press conference about General Motors' tentative agreement at the Detroit Renaissance Center, Thursday, October 17, 2019. (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
If ratified next week, the contract will also provide buy-out money for those who are ineligible to withdraw, but will agree to terminate the employment relationship and benefits (other than earned pension benefits).
For example, with 10 years to 20 years of service, GM employees per hour at the closing facilities – Warren, Lordstown and Baltimore – would receive a $ 67,500 offer.
Around 600 UAW members from Lordstown alone would be affected by the special pension contributions, according to Michael A. Aurillo, Recording Secretary for UAW Local 1112.
According to GM, many workers from the closed facilities have transferred to other GM locations and would be eligible for the various pension alternatives and acquisition incentives.
Lordstown saw 1,381 of the UAW employees per hour – or most of its workers – transfer to other GM plants, according to GM spokesman Daniel Flores. For example, 326 Lordstown workers transferred to the GM plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Warren Transmission had 190 workers transfer to other GM plants. Baltimore Transmission saw 156 workers transfer elsewhere, he said on Friday.
GM said it had already placed more than 2,300 employees – out of 2,800 affected by the four “unassigned facilities” – to other GM locations.
GM Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant – named an unassigned facility in November 2018 – will remain open to produce an electric pickup.
Of course, as with any early retirement or buy-out offer, you want to go through all the options. What does any of these offers mean for your health care coverage? Would you leave GM anyway? Did you plan to retire soon?
For some workers who were transferred to other locations, it is clear that they must consider how long they are willing to drive to a GM plant in Flint or Toledo if they live in Warren or Southfield. Or if they moved, would they move back to their hometown?
The agreement states that employees who had accepted transfer offers would not be required to repay any moving allowances they would have received if they now chose to retire, grow into retirement or make a purchase. Relocation assistance was based on distance.
Other important questions to ask: Do you have a spouse with health problems? Do you have kids in college? Do you have a solid lead on another job? A family's individual situation needs to be carefully considered beyond the big dollar signs.
GM had voluntary takeover bids in the November 2018 table for salaried employees where nearly 18,000 salaried employees were eligible.
As for current UAW retirees, the UAW-GM agreement also includes some benefits. The legal services plan trust was funded for the life of the proposed 2019 agreement and extended to spouses of current UAW-GM retirees, as well as UAW Delphi retirees, spouses and surviving spouses. Legal assistance was also added for non-moving violations of traffic cases, Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid guidance.
If the contract is approved, the agreement has a record restructuring bonus of $ 11,000 – and $ 4,500 for temporary workers. In addition, a salary bonus of 4% will be paid in the first year for permanent employees.
Current pensioners do not receive a ratification or additional bonus.
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