GM, UAWs late at night fail to wake up a deal: Here's why


UAW strikers with Local 22 take the streets outside GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, Monday, September 16, 2019. (Photo: Mandi Wright, Detroit Free Press)

Dealers for General Motors and the UAW recovered Friday in an attempt to reach a tentative agreement that the union's 46,000 members would ratify.

The parties worked over midnight Thursday, recessed, then resumed at midnight Friday. It was the 12th day of UAW's nationwide strike against GM, and dealers were expecting to reboot Saturday morning.

As these negotiations continue, the UAW is also working separately to resolve a strike of 850 caretakers employed by Aramark who work in five GM plants. The caretakers went on strike a day before union members at GM did. A source close to the talks said that UAW appears to be trying to get preliminary agreements with Aramark and GM at the same time, so workers from each side do not have to cross the other's barriers.

Meanwhile, early Friday morning, some UAW region directors were meeting with leaders of the UAW locals to brief them on the talks.

"They brought in some cases at subcommittee level and handed them over to the headquarters because they did not move forward in the negotiations at that level," said a local union leader, who attended a three-hour meeting with regional directors Friday but asked not to be identified. "In short, we're no closer than we were two days ago."

It is always possible for a breakthrough to suddenly increase conversations against a tentative agreement.

However, sources of negotiation characterized each side that dug into its positions. For example, GM is told that hourly workers should pay more for health care, but more importantly for GM, in order to lower labor costs, they want a higher percentage of temporary workers at each facility. The union is holding on to a "no" on both requests, sources said.

Even after a tentative agreement was made, the strike could last at least a week longer. UAW is considering keeping its members on the GM ranking bar and file ratifying the deal, as Free Press has reported.

More: GM, UAW is not nearby – agreement may take a week of calls

More: GM strike may extend pending UAW Workers Vote on Tentative Agreement

At the Table

In a letter to members, UAW said Wednesday that "All pending proposals are now at the main table and have been presented to General Motors, and we are awaiting answers to this. will continue until negotiations are completed. "

That the subcommittees raised the difficult questions at the headboard could be read in two ways, said Marick Masters, director of work at Wayne State University.

"They put them on the front desk in the hope that the people at the top will reach a solution," Masters said. "Or that they could not reach a consensus at the committee level and kick the problem up."

Masters said that the overall difficulty the UAW dealers face is getting a preliminary agreement membership will accept without much sales pitch. Therefore, "they are very reluctant to make a trade-off."

At the same time, Masters said, "I don't think GM will agree to the question of wanting a more flexible workforce," a reference to GM's desire to add more temporary workers.

Sources familiar with the negotiations told the Free Press that the unpublished proposals now at the main table are financial issues. These are the most important:

  • UAW workers' share of health care costs
  • Temporary workers
  • Salary increase
  • Build more product in the United States.

Strike costs

Union members went on strike at. 01.01 September 16 after the 2015 contract expires at midnight September 14.

Two hours before it went out, GM gave what it considered an exciting offer that included, among others:

  • A salary increase [19659023] Added health benefits
  • Solutions for two of the available assembly facilities
  • Electric pickup Production
  • Battery Cell Manufacturer
  • $ 7 Billion in US Investment and 5,400 Jobs.

Free Press has found that only half of these jobs would be new schedules, the rest would be considered retained due to the new investments. Similarly, part of the $ 7 billion will come from joint ventures and develop entities that would have a separate contract with UAW. These workers are likely to be paid less than Detroit Three workers.

Absent from GM's offer was any mention of the fate of temps, a big question. The union wants to create a process for them to become permanent and earn better wages and benefits along the way.

Similarly, GM's first offer on September 14 urged UAW members to pay 15% of their healthcare. They currently pay a total of 3%, far less than the average American worker's 28%. UAW appreciated GM's offer and the company went back to 3%.

But the topic is up for discussion, said one of the people familiar with the talks that prompted questions for Free Press. GM again suggests that UAW members take up a larger portion of health care costs, but it is unclear how much. GM said it pays about $ 900 million a year for US workers per hour for health care.

Labor Issues

Wages are still a sticking point. In the original offer, GM proposed a 2% salary increase for two years following the four-year agreement and a lump sum of 2% for the other years. UAW rejected it. It falls under GM's 2015 contract when workers received a 3% pay rise two years and a 4% lump sum for the other two years. Sources familiar with the talks said the parties remain "far apart" on that matter.

The UAW also wants to narrow the wage gap between different workers. GM workers per hour employed before 2007 are known as heritage workers. They make about $ 31 an hour. They also retire with a lifelong pension. But those hired after 2007, which is almost a third of GM's hourly workforce, start at $ 17 an hour. They are called "progression" because they can work up to $ 28 an hour over eight years. They receive a 401 (k) pension account instead of a pension.

UAW workers on the fence line in front of the Detroit Hamtramck Assembly plant on Sunday, September 22, 2019 in Detroit, Mich. (Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)

More: UAW: & # 39; Wages have not caught inflation & # 39; after & # 39; bankruptcy victim & # 39;

More: Why the GM-UAW talks have taken so long

Suspicion and distrust

While the close conversations say that dealers are little emotional and focused, the two sides have appeared in odds. Early Thursday, GM reversed a decision it made early in the strike that angered the union. GM blamed UAW leaders when they said it kicked health care costs into the union's strike fund to pay for COBRA coverage on striking workers.

GM has now decided to pay health personnel costs for strikers instead of handing it over to the UAW. Even that reversal came as a surprise to UAW leaders after many strikers had sought COBRA coverage last week.

"GM has blinded UAW on several occasions," beyond the health care coverage question, Masters said.

Marick Masters, Director of Labor @ Wayne. (Photo: Marick Masters)

He noted that GM surprised UAW as it released many details about the original proposal to UAW, an unusual feature during the negotiations.

"I think GM is using whatever it takes to try to create a stage where the UAW feels it needs to settle," Masters said. "It may have come back to them when they said they would not pay the health care, and now they say they would. Or they just read the situation wrong."

The lengthy negotiations, combined with the public position, lead Masters to conclude: "I'm not sure how well the parties are communicating with each other. I'm not sure how well the parties are listening to each other. I question how well they are communicated even before they started negotiating, which may be a case where the distrust between the parties and the suspicion between the parties is such that they have difficulty communicating. "

Contact Jamie L. LaReau: 313-222-2149 or jlareau @ Follow her on Twitter @ jlareauan Read more at General Motors and sign up for our auto newsletter .

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