Autoworkers Union, General Motors Reach Tentative Deal

The union’s 73,000 members staged their first nationwide strike in 37 years Monday over concerns about job security as America’s largest automaker completes its restructuring plan. The UAW said an agreement came at 3:05 a.m. Wednesday and its members would return to work for second shift assignments.

“I think our retirees will be exceptionally pleased with this contract and for our active membership, there will be some changes, but overall they will be very, very pleased with the outcome of this negotiation and the job security that is associated with this,” UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said.

Details of the new 4-year contract — including any concessions by GM on job security — have not been released, though the Associated Press reported that it “would give workers bonuses and lump-sum payments and would pay some newly hired workers at lower rates.” UAW’s previous contract with GM expired on Sept. 14.

“There’s no question this was one of the most complex and difficult bargaining sessions in the history of the GM/UAW relationship,” GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said in a press release. “The projected competitive improvements in this agreement will allow us to maintain a strong manufacturing presence in the United States along with significant future investments.”

The tentative deal includes a voluntary employee benefit association, or VEBA, which will be an independently administered trust funded by GM but that the UAW would manage for the administration of worker, retiree and family benefits. Gettelfinger said the union expected the trust to remain solvent for 80 years.

Before a final deal is struck, UAW presidents will review the contract — probably on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning — before submitting it to all union members for a vote. Ratification requires a majority in favor.

“We feel very confident it will be ratified,” Gettelfinger said.

The deal is expected to influence upcoming union negotiations with two other top U.S. automakers, Ford and Chrysler.