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Union to vote on GM deal to end strike

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Oct. 17 (UPI) — About 200 local union leaders met in Detroit Thursday to vote on a tentative deal to end a strike, which would save one of four General Motors plants slated to close.

Prior to the meeting, the United Auto Workers had released a summary of the tentative deal on its website. A day earlier the UAW had announced the proposed contract reached after a five-week walkout of nearly 50,000 workers was “strong and fair.”

The UAW said that the tentative deal saves one of four U.S. plants GM announced last November would close amid competitive challenges and tariffs imposed on imported steel and aluminum in President Donald Trump‘s trade war. Under the deal, plants in Baltimore; Warren, Mich.; and Lordstown, Ohio, will still close, but one in Detroit will be spared.

“It is with sadness that, with this agreement, three of those four facilities will close,” the online summary said. “But we are pleased that Detroit Hamtramck will remain open with new product.”

The “new product” is an “all-electric pickup,” CNBC reported.

As union officials arrived for the meeting to vote on the tentative contract, 30 Lordstown, Ohio, workers were there, shouting “Vote no!”

“If we don’t have product in Lordstown, we want them to vote no on this contract,” said Anthony Naples, a father of five and worker at the Lordstown plant for 25 years. “Now our jobs are going away. They have to figure out a way to get product in the U.S.”

The union had been on strike against General Motors since mid-September to seek higher wages, better healthcare benefits, and a path to permanent status for temporary workers after the company failed to reach a new labor agreement.

The online summary of the tentative contract showed wage increases, including a 3 percent increase in the second and fourth year and a 4 percent lump sump bonus in the first and third years for eligible permanent manufacturing employees.

It also showed a “shortened path to permanent status” for full-time temporary workers.

The tentative contract also set up a $11,000 ratification bonus for employees with seniority and a $4,500 ratification bonus for temporary employees.

Regarding healthcare, “there will be no change to the healthcare plan and no additional cost to members,” the summary stated.

Erik Gordon, a University of Michigan business professor who follows the auto industry, said that if the “rank-and-file” reject the tentative contract, they are voting against UAW President Gary Jones and negotiating team leaders.

If the contract is ratified, UAW may shift focus to Ford or Fiat Chrysler, where contracts expired Sept. 14.

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