Proposed GM Contract Extends Union Protections

GM estimates the financial provisions of the tentative agreement will raise the per-employee cost of wages and benefits to more than $150,000 per year.

Joseph Szczesny

October 31, 2023

3 Min Read
UAW strike GM Lansing Delta 9-29-23 screenshot
UAW strikers picket outside General Motors’ Lansing Delta Township, MI, Assembly Plant on Sept. 29.Getty Images

The tentative contract between General Motors and the UAW that ended a 46-day strike that cost the automaker more than $800 million brings hundreds of GM workers under all of the master labor-agreement provisions for the first time.

“Like the agreements with Ford and Stellantis, the GM agreement has turned record profits into a record contract. The deal includes gains valued at more than four times the gains from the union’s 2019 contract. It provides more in base wage increases than GM workers have received in the past 22 years,” the UAW says in a statement.

GM estimates the financial portions of the tentative agreement will raise the per-employee cost of wages and benefits to more than $150,000 per year.

The union says the GM deal eliminates several wage tiers that have divided the union since they were implemented in concessionary contracts negotiated during the Great Recession.

UAW members who will now be moved to the main production-worker rate include GM Components Holdings workers – former employees of the old Delphi Corp. parts-manufacturing and -distributing operations; workers at the battery pack assembly plant in Brownstown Township, MI, for whom the UAW had negotiated a separate but unequal contract more than a decade ago; and employees of GM parts depots operated by GM’s Customer Care and Aftermarket unit.

For the first time since they organized in the 1990s, GM salaried workers will receive a general wage increase equivalent to that of hourly workers, the union says.

The deal also brings two key groups into the UAW-GM Master Agreement: workers at Ultium Cells battery production sites and UAW members at GM Subsystems. Both groups had been left out of the master agreement and had been told they would never come in, the union says.

GM Subsystems was set up after the Great Recession, taking over material-handling tasks at assembly plants in Detroit, Orion Township (pictured, below), Flint and Lansing, MI. The Subsystems unit with lower wages was first deployed at the Orion plant as a concession the UAW believed would help protect the plant’s production of small cars. Pay ranges from $18.50 to $23 per hour.

Chevrolet Bolt-Orion plant.jpg (Chevrolet).jpg

Chevrolet Bolt-Orion plant.jpg (Chevrolet)_0

As at Ford and Stellantis, the tentative agreement boosts hourly employees’ base wages 25% through April 2028, and will cumulatively raise the top wage by 33% compounded with estimated cost-of-living allowances to over $42 an hour. The starting wage will increase by 70% compounded with estimated COLA to over $30 an hour. 

The progression to top pay is tightened up under the tentative contract. New employees will get 70% for the first year, 75% in the second year and 85% in the third year before graduating to the full wage in the fourth year.

The UAW says many thought GM would never put more money on the table for its hundreds of thousands of retirees. In this agreement, however, GM has agreed to make five annual payments of $500 to current retirees and surviving spouses. They are the first such payments in over 15 years, the union says.

GM workers will return to their jobs while the agreement goes through the ratification process, with the UAW National GM Council convening in Detroit to review the proposed contract.

“GM is pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with the UAW that reflects the contributions of the team while enabling us to continue to invest in our future and provide good jobs in the U.S.,” says GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra.

The agreement is also being hailed by President Joe Biden, who appeared Sept. 26 along with UAW President Shawn Fain on a union picket line outside a GM parts depot in suburban Detroit.

“This historic contract is a testament to the power of unions and collective bargaining to build strong middle-class jobs while helping our most iconic American companies thrive,” Biden says.

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