Skilled trades workers threw a monkey wrench Friday into what appeared to be a ratified contract between the UAW and General Motors, causing at least a few days’ delay in signing bonuses, raises and other benefits for about 52,700 workers.
With vote results in from all but a handful of plants and parts warehouses, the four-year contract was approved by about 55 percent of those who had voted as of Friday afternoon, based on a combination of actual numbers reported and estimates.
But skilled trades workers — the electricians, millwrights, welders and pipefitters who fix machinery when it breaks down — hated the deal and a large majority of them voted no. They object to language that enables GM to continue reducing the number of their classifications and ask them to do jobs beyond their trained specialties.
Under UAW bylaws, union leaders are obligated to hear the skilled trades’ complaints in light of their overwhelming rejection. That will happen in a series of meetings beginning Monday. Until then UAW President Dennis Williams can’t give GM formal notice that the contract is ratified.
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Despite that temporary setback, the solid majority of GM’s union workers approved the deal. The agreement passed with strong support from both veteran workers, who will get their first wage increase in 10 years, and younger workers, who will get better health care coverage and a path to wage parity in three to six years, depending on their hire dates.
Most workers at four former Delphi parts plants rejected it because their wages are capped at a lower level than people in assembly, powertrain and stamping plants.
Under the new contract, about 57,200 GM hourly workers will receive $8,000 signing bonuses and wage increases. Entry level production workers currently paid between $15.78 and $19.28 per hour will see their wages increase to between $17 and $22.50 per hour and eventually will earn about $29 per hour.