UAW strikers

United Auto Workers strike above U.S. 31 in Spring Hill.

The United Auto Workers (UAW) strike will continue until at least Monday, with Spring Hill UAW members holding a series of roll-out meetings throughout the day to discuss and vote on the terms of the tentative agreement that was reached earlier this week.

Background

On Sept. 15, negotiations between UAW union members and General Motors (GM) fell through when both parties failed to reach an agreement on their regular four-year contract. While details on the specifics of the negotiations are sparse, UAW leadership generally cited job security, wages, healthcare and an over-reliance on temporary workers as main factors in the fallout.

It would be that same evening on Sept. 15 that roughly 48,000 UAW members nationwide went on strike.

Highlights of the tentative agreement

In the newly reached tentative agreement, GM has proposed removing the $12,000 cap on profit sharing payouts for employees, with the previous formula of $1,000 per $1 billion remaining intact. Also included in the agreement is the stipulation that all permanent manufacturing employees would earn at least $32.32 an hour within four years, or by Sept. 4, 2023.

The agreement includes no major changes to the current healthcare plan, but does include wage increases for eligible permanent manufacturing employees of three percent in the second and fourth years, and four percent lump sums in the first and third years. Vacation is also said to be “enhanced,” though no other specifics on that aspect were made public.

A $60,000 bonus was also included in the agreement for up to 2,000 eligible production workers and 60 eligible skilled employees who retired between Dec. 31, 2019 and Feb.28, 2020.

Lastly — and perhaps most importantly to many UAW members — temporary workers were offered a shortened path to permanent status as part of the agreement. Beginning in 2021, all part-time workers would be provided a path to convert to regular status.

“From the outset your brothers and sisters, local leaders and bargaining team members identified key areas of concern to focus on throughout this process: a clear pathway for temporary workers to full-time status; shortening the in-progression period; maintaining our current health plan and costs; improving our share of profits; as well as protecting job security and future work,” reads a UAW press release signed by UAW president Gary Jones and UAW Vice President Terry Dittes.

“Collective bargaining is never easy. We don’t expect it to be easy. And striking is never an easy decision but your sacrifices reminded General Motors of the power and might of solidarity. Brothers and sisters, we stood up with one loud, clear voice and said: ‘No More.’ Together, we lasted one day longer. This bargaining agreement is the result of your strength and sacrifice. This contract is the product of the efforts of us all.”

What’s next for Spring Hill GM employees

Workers at the Spring Hill GM plant are set to hold three meetings on Monday; one at 8 a.m., another at noon, and the final meeting at 4 p.m. During these meetings, workers will be provided with more details on the tentative agreement, after which workers will collectively vote on whether to accept the agreement or not.

“The dignity, grace, and solidarity demonstrated by our members during the last few weeks are prime examples of what this union is all about — supporting one another in the good and bad times and never giving up,” Jones said in a statement.

“Our more than 48,000 members standing their ground have captured the hearts and minds of people across this country. I could not be prouder of our brothers and sisters, our National Negotiators, and the National Council as they continue to fight one day longer to secure the best deal for our members.”

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