published : 2023-09-08
UAW Leader Criticizes 'Insulting' General Motors Wage Offer as Strike Threat Looms
Strike Could Involve Up to 146K Autoworkers
General Motors' first wage-and-benefit offer to the United Auto Workers (UAW) on Thursday fell far short of the union's initial demands.
The offer comes just a week before the UAW's national contracts with GM, Stellantis, and Ford expire, and while both sides remain far apart, it signifies movement on economic issues.
Nevertheless, union President Shawn Fain wasted no time in expressing his dissatisfaction, labeling the offer as 'insulting.' He further threatened to initiate a strike against any automaker that failed to reach a tentative agreement by the contract expiry time of 11:59 p.m. on September 14. This means that a strike involving up to 146,000 autoworkers is now a real possibility.
GM outlined its proposal in a letter to its workers, offering a 10% wage increase for a new four-year contract, along with two additional 3% one-time payments. The company also presented a $6,000 inflation payment and an extra $5,000 in lump sums to safeguard against inflation during the contract period. Furthermore, a $5,000 contract ratification bonus was included. However, specific details about the effective dates for the pay raises and most of the lump sums were not disclosed.
The wage offer from GM is marginally better than the one from Ford that the union rejected last week. Notably, GM's reliance on lump-sum payments instead of annual pay raises contradicts what Fain has been advocating for.
Last week, the UAW lodged unfair labor practices complaints against GM and Stellantis with the National Labor Relations Board. However, at that time, neither company had presented a counterproposal addressing the union's economic demands.
Citing significant company profits over the past decade and the raises in CEO pay, the union is seeking a 46% across-the-board pay raise over four years, a reduction in workweek hours from 40 to 32 with no pay decrease, restoration of traditional pensions for new hires, representation of workers at new battery plants, and the elimination of wage tiers. Top-scale UAW assembly plant workers currently earn approximately $32 an hour, in addition to annual profit sharing checks.
Fain conveyed his thoughts on the proposal through a spokesman, stating that it 'doesn't come close to an equitable agreement.' He accused GM of withholding genuine bargaining efforts for the past six weeks and decried their offer as only being made in response to the union's complaints with the NLRB. Fain's message emphasized that time is running out and GM must stop wasting the union members' time.
In a letter to GM employees co-signed by President Mark Reuss and manufacturing chief Gerald Johnson, the company defended its wage proposal as the most substantial since the 1999 contract and expressed appreciation for their hard work. They acknowledged that there is still work to be done but saw fit to make this offer as a display of their commitment to keep the negotiation process moving forward.
The UAW was scheduled to present its counterproposal to Ford's offer on Thursday, while Stellantis confirmed plans to offer a counterproposal by the end of the week.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Fain conceded that the union may not achieve all its demands through bargaining. However, he made it clear that the UAW is prepared to go on strike next week against any automaker that fails to reach a tentative contract agreement.
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