Skip to Content

General Motors and UAW Union Delay Ratifying New Contract

Mary Barra, GM Chief Executive Officer with Dennis Williams, President - International Union, UAW at the UAW-GM 2015 Negotiations Kick-off at the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., on Monday, July 13, 2015.  Photographer: Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg *** Local Caption ***Mary Barra, GM Chief Executive Officer with Dennis Williams, President - International Union, UAW at the UAW-GM 2015 Negotiations Kick-off at the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., on Monday, July 13, 2015.  Photographer: Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg *** Local Caption ***
GM CEO Mary Barra, and UAW President Dennis Williams at the UAW-GM 2015 Negotiations Kick-off in Detroit on July 13, 2015. Photograph by Jeff Kowalsky—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Disagreement between production workers and skilled trades workers at General Motors plants has pushed back the formal ratification of the United Auto Workers’ four-year labor agreement with the car company.

The so-called Big Three automakers—Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, GM, and Ford—have all entered negotiations with the UAW union this summer and fall to work out labor agreements. UAW workers at FCA ratified a deal with a 77% yes vote in late October. GM was supposed to be next in line to solidify a contract with its UAW workers, but it’s now possible that Ford—the third company to enter talks with the union—could beat it.

The GM-UAW deal is being delayed because production workers approved a proposed labor deal with 58% of the vote but nearly 60% of skilled trades workers rejected it. The tentative deal that was offered to UAW’s rank-and-file at GM required the union to tell the company whether or not its members had approved the contract on Friday, but because of the disagreement between workers, the UAW asked for an extension of that deadline to November 20, according to a Cindy Estrada, vice president and director of UAW’s GM department.

The UAW held meetings last week to understand why most of its skilled trades workers at GM opposed the deal, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Skilled trades workers told the paper that they were dissatisfied with the proposed contract because the deal leaves them out of the $60,000 retirement incentive offered to 4,000 production workers. Plus they’re unhappy with GM’s “inadequate” commitment to training new apprentices and the company’s cross-training across skills in a push for more worker flexibility. The Free Press also reported that some workers said there was growing tension between production employees and those in the skilled trades.

The main fallout from the delay is that the $8,000 signing bonuses UAW workers are set to receive when the deal is formally ratified won’t be doled out until after Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend.