GM workers end 40-day strike after approving new labor contract

Ryan Piper with the United Auto Workers continues to picket after news of a tentative contract agreement with General Motors, in Langhorne, Pa., Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. Bargainers for General Motors and the United Auto Workers reached a tentative contract deal on Wednesday that could end a monthlong strike that brought the company’s U.S. factories to a standstill. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The United Auto Workers on Friday called an end to a six-week strike against General Motors after union members voted to ratify a four-year contract, ending the longest nationwide walkout against the automaker since 1970.

“General Motors members have spoken,” said Terry Dittes, UAW vice president and director of the UAW-GM Department, in a statement. “We are all so incredibly proud of UAW-GM members who captured the hearts and minds of a nation. Their sacrifice and courageous stand addressed the two-tier wages structure and permanent temporary worker classification that has plagued working class Americans.”

Workers who voted across the country this week could be back on the assembly line as soon as Friday night or Saturday morning as GM looks to resume production after a labor dispute that cost the automaker an estimated $2 billion.

General Motors workers voted 57.2% in favor of a new contract with the company, with 23,389 voting for deal and 17,501 voting against it, according to a statement Friday from the United Auto Workers union. The union now will turn its attention to bargaining with crosstown rival Ford Motor Co.

UAW leaders succeeded in winning wage hikes and other benefits for members employed by the automaker, but failed to convince GM not to close three U.S. factories.

The proposal gives GM workers a 3% raise and 4% lump-sum increase in alternating years, akin to what they had in their last contract. GM’s roughly 46,000 permanent workers will receive an $11,000 signing bonus, and its 3,000 temporary workers are set to get $4,500. The automaker also agreed to nix a $12,000 limit on profit-sharing that gives each worker $1,000 for every billion dollars GM earns. The agreement also keeps GM’s generous health plan intact.

GM agreed to build electric trucks and vans at its Detroit-Hamtramck factory, one of four scheduled to close before the walkout began. The agreement lets GM close three plants: Baltimore Operations in Maryland, Lordstown Assembly in Ohio and Warren Transmission in Michigan.

The strike’s impact could be felt throughout the auto industry as GM suppliers laid off workers in reacting to the slowdown.

GM reports earnings on Tuesday, which should shed further light on the strike’s impact on the automaker.

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