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UAW members ratify deal with General Motors, first of Big 3 to conclude labor dispute

Written by on November 17, 2023

Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — Members of the United Auto Workers voted to ratify a contract with General Motors, making it the first of the Big 3 U.S. carmakers to formally conclude a weekslong labor dispute that brought tens of thousands of autoworkers to picket lines and risked major economic disruption, balloting results posted online by the union showed.

Employees at General Motors voted to ratify the labor contract by a relatively narrow margin of about 55% to 45%, affirming a deal that top union officials touted as historic but a sizable minority of workers rejected, returns showed.

Soon afterward, Stellantis employees represented by the UAW voted to approve their agreement. A tentative agreement at Ford appears headed for ratification. The votes at Stellantis and Ford appear to have approved their respective agreements by a larger margin than the contract with General Motors, according to vote tallies posted online by the UAW on Friday.

The tentative deals reached with the Big 3 included a record 25% raise over four years, as well as significant improvements for pensions and the right to protest the closure of plants.

But the agreements fell short of some ambitious demands made by UAW President Shawn Fain at the outset of the strike in September. Initially, the union called for 40% wage increases over the four-year duration of the contract as well as a four-day workweek at full-time pay.

If union members had voted down the agreement, more than 50,000 employees at General Motors represented by the UAW would have potentially relaunched their strike against the company.

Ultimately, the deal with General Motors received majority support from union members at dozens of workplaces spanning from Michigan to Texas to Pennsylvania. However, the agreement appeared to elicit disapproval from many longtime workers, returns indicated.

A major GM plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, which employs more than 2,000 workers building the company’s Cadillac and Acadia vehicles, voted down the contract by a margin of 56% to 44%, the results showed.

A thousand-employee transmission plant in Toledo, Ohio, which experienced a layoff of about 200 workers amid the strike, voted against the contract by a nearly identical margin, according to the results.

After reaching tentative agreements with each of the Big 3 automakers late last month, Fain touted the set of contracts as a victory not only for autoworkers but also for the broader working class.

President Joe Biden also praised the deals. Addressing UAW members at a car plant in Illinois last week, Biden described tentative contracts reached at General Motors, Ford and Stellantis as model agreements that he hoped would fuel a wave of unionization across the auto industry.

“I’m a little selfish,” Biden said. “I want this type of agreement for all auto workers.”

 

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