UAW Members Ratify GM Agreement
Members of the UAW overwhelmingly ratified an agreement with General Motors (GM) Corp. UAW President Ron Gettelfinger told a Detroit press conference today that 74 percent of GM’s U.S. production and skilled-trade workers voted in favor of the deal.
Under the agreement, the union-run retiree health care trust will gain 17.5 percent ownership of a post-bankruptcy GM, with an option to buy another 2.5 percent.
“UAW members have once again stepped up to make necessary and painful sacrifices to preserve U.S. manufacturing jobs,” Gettelfinger said.
This settlement agreement will give GM a chance to survive the worldwide collapse of industry sales and return as a viable company once the economy recovers and consumers begin purchasing vehicles again.
The concessionary settlement agreement, which takes effect today, meets the requirements of the U.S. Treasury for additional loans to General Motors. It includes modifications to the union’s 2007 collective-bargaining agreement with GM and modifications to the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) trust.
UAW Vice President Cal Rapson, who directs the union’s General Motors Department, said:
We’ve negotiated an agreement which will make GM competitive. And thanks to hard bargaining and strong public support from our members and from many Americans who care about our country’s manufacturing base, we won a commitment from GM for new small-car production here in the United States.
“It’s going to stop the imports coming in here from China,” Gettelfinger added. “We can build those small cars in this country.”
In a separate announcement, GM said it plans to reopen a shuttered U.S. factory to build compact cars that will likely be the smallest vehicles GM has ever produced here.
The company said in a written statement that the retooled factory will be able to build 160,000 small and compact cars per year. The automaker did not say which factory would be selected to build the cars.
A pact between GM and the UAW was essential before a June 1 deadline for the company to restructure its debt as part of a process widely expected to include a bankruptcy filing.
In April, UAW members ratified a similar agreement with Chrysler, Fiat and the Treasury Department.
In the end, Gettelfinger said, the deal is good for America. In an interview on the PBS “NewsHour” last night, he added:
It’s good for the economy. The auto industry is a major economic driver in our country, and to see the companies fail would be economic disaster.