UAW Bargaining to Start With GM; Members Authorize Strike

With less than two weeks left before contracts with Detroit Three autoworkers expire, the United Automobile Workers has chosen General Motors as the first company to enter bargaining talks. What occurs between the UAW and GM will set the stage for subsequent contracts with Ford and Fiat Chrysler.

Going into the talks, which UAW does under a dark cloud born of its bribery and kickback scandal, the union comes armed with a strike authorization approved by its members. 

On Monday, the UAW released the results of the strike authorization vote — a normal part of the lead-up to bargaining. Each member of the Detroit Three voted overwhelmingly to use a potential strike as a bargaining chip, with GM workers slightly more inclined to walk the picket line than the other two. The finally tally was 96.4 percent at GM, 96 percent at FCA, and 95.98 percent at Ford.

GM, of course, finds itself in a tumultuous time, with five North American plants slated for shuttering. Lordstown, Ohio’s Chevrolet Cruze plant went offline for good earlier this year. Detroit’s Hamtramck assembly plant has already stopped producing the Chevrolet Cruze and Buick LaCrosse, with production of the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac CT6 expected to end in January of next year.

“Mary Barra said from the outset of these talks that we will stand up as we tackle a changing industry. We are ready to stand strong for our future,” said UAW President Gary Jones, who saw his home raided by federal agents just last week.

“We are focused. We are prepared and we are all ready to stand up for our members, our communities and our manufacturing future.”

Detroit Three contracts expire at midnight on September 14th. Given the job cuts, and plant closures experienced throughout the industry — but especially among domestic manufacturers fearful of a recession — industry watchers expect this round of bargaining to be a tense affair. Automakers aren’t likely to be as willing to toss out generous wage increases and perks this time around, raising the specter of an unavoidable strike.

“No one goes into collective bargaining taking a strike lightly. But it is a key tool in the tool belt as our bargaining team sits across from the company,” Jones said. “Ultimately, the company holds that destiny in their hands as they bargain. Clearly the UAW stood up for them in a very dark time, now that they are profitable it is time for them to stand up for all of us.”

shared from TTAC