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General Motors trying to bypass union leaders

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Christian Fernsby ▼ | October 12, 2019
General Motors strike continues
America   General Motors strike continues

General Motors took the unusual step of appealing directly to its unionized employees in a blog post.

Topics: General Motors union

That laids out its latest offer aimed at ending a month-long strike, drawing an angry response from the union that the automaker was trying to “starve ... workers off the picket lines.”

While emphasizing GM’s commitment to the collective bargaining process, the letter, signed by Gerald Johnson, executive vice-president for global manufacturing, circumvents United Auto Workers (UAW) leadership and points to frustration at a lack of progress on ending a conflict that has already cost the company more than $1 billion.

The UAW strike began on Sept. 16, with the union’s 48,000 members at GM seeking higher pay, greater job security, a bigger share of profit and protection of healthcare benefits. Credit Suisse estimated the loss could hit about $1.5 billion, and the Center for Automotive Research estimated the weekly costs to GM and the UAW strike fund at $450 million and $12 million, respectively.

As part of its revised offer, GM boosted the amount it plans to invest in the United States to about $9 billion from its previous offer of $7 billion, a source familiar with the offer said.

Of the new total, $7.7 billion would be invested directly in GM plants, with the rest going to joint ventures including a potential battery plant near the Lordstown, Ohio, factory that has been idled, the source said.

The company said the offer also includes increased compensation through wages and one-time payments, preserving industry-leading healthcare benefits without increasing workers’ costs, enhanced profit sharing with unlimited upside and a higher ratification bonus than the $8,000 previously offered.

For temporary workers, GM said its offer would create a path to permanent employment and include a ratification bonus.

“The strike has been hard on you, your families, our communities, the company, our suppliers and dealers,” Johnson said. “We have advised the union that it’s critical that we get back to producing quality vehicles for our customers.”

The UAW in a statement said GM was “playing games at the expense of workers” and accused the automaker of “purposefully stalling the process to starve UAW-GM workers off the picket lines.”


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