UAW Ends Strike, Approves New Contract with General Motors

U.A.W. members strike in Hamtramck, Mich., September 22, 2019. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

The United Auto Workers union on Friday approved a new contract with General Motors, ending a nearly six-week-long strike that had seen 49,000 workers walk off the job and forced GM factories to sit idle while thousands of other employees were prevented from coming to work.

The new contract is “a rich contract for workers,” economist Patrick Anderson told the New York Times. “The health care coverage would be the envy of nearly every worker in America.”

The agreement provides a smoother path for temporary employees to attain permanent positions, and allows all full-time hourly workers to achieve a $32 per hour wage after four years. U.A.W. workers also receive an $11,000 bonus as part of the deal.

A GM factory in Lordstown, Ohio, that halted production in March will be closed permanently under the agreement. The factory had briefly become an issue in the Democratic primary, when Beto O’Rourke mentioned it during the fourth primary debate.

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“I’ve met with these members of the U.A.W. who are striking outside of facilities in Cincinnati, in Lordstown, Ohio, which has just been decimated by GM and their maleficence, paying effectively zero in taxes last year,” O’Rourke said at the time. “They want fairness in how we treat workers in this country, and they’re not getting it.”

The closing of the Lordstown factory caused some workers to vote against the new contract.

“We did everything that GM ever asked of us at times of concessions,” said Bill Goodchild, a member of the Lordstown branch of the U.A.W. which overwhelmingly rejected the agreement. “We feel we deserve a product.”

One Detroit factory scheduled to close in January will remain open as part of the agreement, which stipulates that GM will invest $3 billion to upgrade the facility.

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