UAW sends proposed tentative agreement to GM for approval

Published: Oct. 16, 2019 at 11:46 AM EDT
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The United Auto Workers and General Motors have reached a tentative contract agreement that could end a month-long strike that brought the automaker's U.S. factories to a standstill.

The deal was hammered out Wednesday, but it won't immediately end the strike by more than 49,000 workers.

Not all of the details of the deal are out, but News 10 has learned that the deal will include pay raises, a ratification bonus, a path for temporary employees to become permanent and the auto company will invest billions of dollars in more factories in the United States over the next four years.

Strikers will likely stay on the picket lines at least a few more days until union committees vote on the deal, and the entire membership also must vote.

GM Union worker Matthew Sleeman said he was ready to get back to work and hopes the deal passes the majority vote.

"You know I'm pretty excited about it," Sleeman said. "We've been out here for over a month now and I think we're all ready to get back to work."

News 10's Rachel Sweet spoke with strikers outside of the Lansing Grand River plant following the announcement of the tentative agreement. All in all, strikers were relieved and hopeful that an end is in sight.

"It's been a long time coming and hopefully the deal is what it is and we can all get back here and get back to work," Shawn Foster, of UAW Local 602, said.

Strikers say even though they don't know all the specifics, they feel good that there has been some progress.

"It's a good relief, obviously we hope it's a fair contract. We hope that it takes care of our temporary employees," Jason Peek, of UAW Local 602, said.

"I just want temps to get hired and us to get back to work and build these world-class vehicles," Foster said.

As far as what's next, strikers say they hope to get back to work soon.

"We have to get this to the membership and let them read it, and we're never going to get everything we want, but we've got to look at it, see whats going to happen with it," Sleeman said.

"The leadership of the UAW wouldn't have accepted a bad agreement so we should have a good agreement, that sounds great to me," a striker said.

We're just ready for some change, right guys? And we just want to be treated fairly that's all," a striker said.

Sleeman said he hopes the deal is good enough for most.

"I hope that it's good enough for the majority. I mean obviously like I said not everybody is going to get everything they want, but is it better than what we have or at least as good as what we had we hope it's better and then a that point then I hope it passes."

Workers left their jobs early Sept. 16. They wanted a bigger share of GM's profits, job security and a path to permanent jobs for temporary workers.

The company wanted to reduce labor costs in order to compete with foreign auto brands like Toyota or Honda.

"I basically think it showed General Motors that we do deserve a better piece of the pie," Sleeman said. "You know we lost a lot during the bankruptcy. The American public bailed [GM] out, the employees bailed [GM] out, and it's time to take care of the people that helped [GM] out."

The strike shut down all of GM's U.S. factories and hampered production in Canada and Mexico.

Economists estimated General Motors lost more than $1 billion since the strike began.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra joined negotiators at the bargaining table on Tuesday before announcing the tentative agreement.

On Saturday, The United Auto Workers International Executive Board voted to increase the strike pay to $275, which took effect on Sunday.

It would seem that those effort over the week paid off.

Read the announcement from the UAW here:
The UAW National Negotiators, elected by their local unions, achieved major wins for UAW-GM members in the Proposed Tentative Agreement. Today, after five weeks of intense negotiations, the UAW GM National Negotiators and UAW GM Vice President Terry Dittes announced the achievement of a Proposed Tentative Agreement with General Motors. The elected national negotiators voted to recommend the UAW GM National Council accept the Proposed Tentative Agreement as the agreement represents major gains for UAW workers. “The number one priority of the national negotiation team has been to secure a strong and fair contract that our members deserve,” said UAW Vice President Terry Dittes, Director of the UAW GM Department. Out of respect for our members, we will refrain from commenting on the details until the UAW GM leaders gather together and receive all details. “We are extremely grateful to the thousands of Americans who donated goods and helped our striking workers and their families. As we await the Council’s decision, please know that the outpouring of community and national support will be etched in the memories of all of us at the UAW for years to come,” said Dittes. “The dignity, grace, and solidarity demonstrated by our members during the last few weeks are prime examples of what this union is all about — supporting one another in the good and bad times and never giving up,” said UAW President Gary Jones. “Our more than 48,000 members standing their ground have captured the hearts and minds of people across this country. I could not be prouder of our brothers and sisters, our National Negotiators, and the National Council as they continue to fight one day longer to secure the best deal for our members,” said Jones. On September 15, the UAW GM National Council voted to strike. The UAW GM National Council will meet and review details on October 17, 2019 in a private meeting, at which time they will vote on whether to recommend it to the full UAW-GM membership for ratification. Until the Council reviews and votes to approve the proposed tentative agreement the strike will continue. During the October 17 meeting, the Council will decide whether to continue the strike until ratification concludes or to stop the strike at the time of the Council’s approval of the agreement. Once the UAW National GM Council votes to approve the proposed tentative agreement, the contract language will become a Tentative Agreement and shared with the full membership. Ultimately, the agreement will not be ratified until UAW-GM membership across the U.S. votes to approve it.

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Copyright 2019 WILX. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.