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Union workers at General Motors appear to have voted down tentative contract deal

Five large factories have turned down the four year and eight month deal by fairly large margins. Voting continues at Ford, where the deal is passing with 66.1%

General Motors Lansing Delta Plant picket
Striking United Auto Workers (UAW) members from the General Motors Lansing Delta Plant picket in Delta Township, Michigan U.S. September 29, 2023.REBECCA COOK (REUTERS)

A tentative contract agreement between General Motors and the United Auto Workers union appears to be headed for defeat. The union hasn’t posted final vote totals yet, but workers at five large factories who finished voting in the past few days have turned down the four year and eight month deal by fairly large margins.

The vote tracker on the UAW’s website shows the deal winning by 686 votes. But those totals do not include votes from GM assembly plants in Fort Wayne, Indiana; Wentzville, Missouri; Lansing Delta Township and Lansing Grand River in Michigan, and a powertrain plant in Toledo, Ohio, which all voted against the deal, according to local union officials. In most cases the vote tallies ranged from 55% to around 60% against the contract.

Workers were awaiting totals from a large assembly plant in Arlington, Texas, but many said they expect the contract to be voted down. A message was left seeking comment from the union’s spokesman. It wasn’t clear what would happen next, but local union officials don’t expect an immediate walkout after the final totals are known.

Voting continues at Ford, where the deal is passing with 66.1% voting in favor so far with only a few large factories still counting. The contract was passing overwhelmingly in early voting at Jeep maker Stellantis. The union’s vote tracker shows that 79.7% voted in favor with many large factories yet to finish.

Local union officials say longtime workers were unhappy that they didn’t get larger pay raises like newer workers, and they wanted a larger pension increase. Newer hires wanted a defined benefit pension plan instead of the 401(K) defined contribution plan that they now receive.

Tony Totty, president of the union local at the Toledo powertrain plant, said the environment is right to seek more from the company. “We need to take advantage of the moment,” he said. “Who knows what the next environment will be for national agreements. The company never has a problem telling us we need to take concessions in bad economic times. Why should we not get the best economic agreement in good economic times?”

Thousands of UAW members joined picket lines in targeted strikes against Detroit automakers over a six-week stretch before tentative deals were reached late last month. Rather than striking at one company, the union targeted individual plants at all three automakers. At its peak last month about 46,000 of the union’s 146,000 workers at the Detroit companies were walking picket lines.

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