By on September 3, 2019

With less than two weeks left before contracts with Detroit Three autoworkers expire, the United Automobile Workers has chosen General Motors as the first company to enter bargaining talks. What occurs between the UAW and GM will set the stage for subsequent contracts with Ford and Fiat Chrysler.

Going into the talks, which UAW does under a dark cloud born of its bribery and kickback scandal, the union comes armed with a strike authorization approved by its members. 

On Monday, the UAW released the results of the strike authorization vote — a normal part of the lead-up to bargaining. Each member of the Detroit Three voted overwhelmingly to use a potential strike as a bargaining chip, with GM workers slightly more inclined to walk the picket line than the other two. The finally tally was 96.4 percent at GM, 96 percent at FCA, and 95.98 percent at Ford.

GM, of course, finds itself in a tumultuous time, with five North American plants slated for shuttering. Lordstown, Ohio’s Chevrolet Cruze plant went offline for good earlier this year. Detroit’s Hamtramck assembly plant has already stopped producing the Chevrolet Cruze and Buick LaCrosse, with production of the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac CT6 expected to end in January of next year.

“Mary Barra said from the outset of these talks that we will stand up as we tackle a changing industry. We are ready to stand strong for our future,” said UAW President Gary Jones, who saw his home raided by federal agents just last week.

“We are focused. We are prepared and we are all ready to stand up for our members, our communities and our manufacturing future.”

Detroit Three contracts expire at midnight on September 14th. Given the job cuts, and plant closures experienced throughout the industry — but especially among domestic manufacturers fearful of a recession — industry watchers expect this round of bargaining to be a tense affair. Automakers aren’t likely to be as willing to toss out generous wage increases and perks this time around, raising the specter of an unavoidable strike.

“No one goes into collective bargaining taking a strike lightly. But it is a key tool in the tool belt as our bargaining team sits across from the company,” Jones said. “Ultimately, the company holds that destiny in their hands as they bargain. Clearly the UAW stood up for them in a very dark time, now that they are profitable it is time for them to stand up for all of us.”

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28 Comments on “UAW Bargaining to Start With GM; Members Authorize Strike...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    That’s a lot of “standing up” talk.

    Go ahead and strike. GM tends to idle plants at this time of year anyway, and they can hold out for quite a while. I can see GM going offline a month before they get nervous.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Seems like the UAW is ‘running scared’ at the moment. Legal issues, the auto market in a downturn, the political landscape in turmoil. If they have any allies, they are not sure who they are. And credit where it is due, Trump last week actually mentioned that he wanted a trade deal that the unions would like.

      Going on strike in this environment, would not be a ‘smart’ move.

      • 0 avatar

        Right you are, Arthur Dailey.

        How quickly these members have forgotten that back in 2009 they were a fellowship without an employer after GM died. I suppose their confidence is bolstered by the full faith and credit of the US Treasury backing GM back then, and now.

        So again, the political aspects always drive such an environment, and the UAW KNOWS instinctively that the POTUS has been highly critical of GM and Ms Barra.

        GM will cave.

        It’s bad enough for Ms Barra to have to fight the union. But to have to fight the union AND the POTUS is an exercise in futility, resulting only in a major defeat for GM’s public image.

  • avatar

    Just here to comment on the front of that truck in the pic. If you look at it just right, it seems the hood should be where the CHEVROLET emblem in the grill is placed. That front end is massive. Hard to believe this is the same company that made the GMT 400 series trucks (1988-1998). I realize things change, safety regulations, etc. But damn………….

  • avatar

    “Detroit’s Hamtramck assembly plant has already stopped producing the Chevrolet Cruze and Buick Lacrosse …”

    Cruze was never built at Hamtramck. Maybe you’re thinking of the Volt?

  • avatar

    It looks to me like the UAW may be starting this season of talks under a pretty steep handicap, considering their legal issues over the last two years.

  • avatar

    Step One should be to vote to decertify the union and reorganize.

    Also, for all the indictments coming down for those receiving the bribes, has there been much action taken against those offering the bribes? Maybe I just haven’t been following the news as closely as I could be, but it seems like the automakers themselves should be under a cloud as well.

    • 0 avatar

      The people making the bribes are acting in the interest of their stake-holders. The people taking the bribes are selling out the people who pay their salaries. Not really the same thing.

      • 0 avatar

        Got it, corruption is OK if it’s in “the interest of stake-holders.”

        There should be criminal charges against the individuals on both sides of these “transactions.” And, yes, the UAW should be promptly decertified, although the easiest time for that is probably right after this negotiation is complete.

        • 0 avatar

          The difference between bribing union officials and being shaken down for protection money by any organized criminals is incredibly subtle, so subtle that the people bribing the union officials may not have thought they had any other option.

          • 0 avatar

            Gee, if only extortion were a crime and there was some kind of agency to inform if one were the victim of such a scheme.

          • 0 avatar

            You don’t think unions corrupt government agencies? They almost passed ‘card check’ under the Obama regime, with the express purpose of eliminating secret ballots in union elections so people who voted wrong could be biologically controlled. What fairy tale worlds do you guys live in?

  • avatar

    Good luck with that, UAW.

    You’re gradually striking yourself into extinction. Death by a thousand papercuts.

    • 0 avatar

      I thought they had done the “ceremonial handshake” like a month ago, and they’re only now starting negotiations with two weeks left in the contract?

      WTFs happened in the interim? Or were the “legal proceedings” taking up the time?

    • 0 avatar

      dantes_inferno, it will never get as far as a strike. GM will cave long before it gets to that point.

      The ace-in-the-hole for the UAW will be to remind GM Mgt and the public of what Mr Jamie Dimon said at the business forum that Corporations should no longer be focused on just Shareholder wealth/profits.

      What I see developing is 1) ESOP coming into play at GM, 2) pay tied to merit and seniority, and 3) reduction in human workforce by attrition and robotification.

      • 0 avatar

        GM and the UAW are both in odd positions going into bargaining. The UAW has been hit with scandal but with an election looming they know that anything that will impact workers wallets will carry weight politically. GM also knows that in the current political climate things are stacked against them.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t know. Ms. Barra has played everything hardball so far. It’s definitely not a good idea given Trump would probably back the Union here, but she’s held out until she got what she wanted in every negotiation so far. Korea, Wentzville, Ontario. Every single factory investment came with negotiations for money from the locals.

        • 0 avatar

          My understanding from the articles I read from other sources, is that the UAW is bargaining primarily for three things that also happen to be the sticking points:

          Higher pay
          Job security
          Better benefits

          The higher pay speaks for itself, as a hedge against future inflation since the minimum wage is now perilously close to $15/hr for the unskilled.

          The job security aspect is to prevent plant closures so the membership can work their way toward that rich UAW retirement-payout currently enjoyed by past GM retirees.

          And the better benefits halo is to insure that the Medicare-for-All Socialist Far Left Liberal fans of Bernie et al, don’t take away the Cadillac (or Lexus) luxury healthcare plans now in effect for ALL UAW members.

          Of course, we’ll see what we shall see because failure is not an option. Meaning, at some point sanity will prevail and both GM and the UAW will reach an agreement that neither party likes and each side will just have to suck it up and deal with it.

          The political climate in the US is mighty sour these days, especially with the looming prospect that the current POTUS will be re-elected in a landslide in Nov 2020, and will double down on his economic policies which have been a boon for the majority of American citizens.

          The way GM goes will be the way that Ford will follow. That’s what makes this go’round so shaky for all involved.

          Frankly, I believe neither side can win. Right now they’re just dancing and trying to save face and lessen the future hurt for all.

          • 0 avatar

            @HDC – I agree with you with the exception of your 7th paragraph.
            Statistically his economic policies have only helped the wealthy and/or those playing the stock market. The large orange clown lucked out and caught an economic wave that started at the tail end of Dubya Bush and the start of Obama.
            A landslide is rather unlikely even with gerrymandering and the Russians showing up to help and the economy doesn’t fall on its face. He will be facing someone considerably more electable than the poster-girl for corrupt career politicians. Polling shows that the top 4 Democratic candidates all can beat him with rather wide margins.

          • 0 avatar

            “He will be facing someone considerably more electable than the poster-girl for corrupt career politicians. Polling shows that the top 4 Democratic candidates all can beat him with rather wide margins.”

            Yeah, that’s what they said in 2016 as well.

            And then the unthinkable happened. Who knew!?

            But hey, elections in the US next November. We’ll see what happens.

            I’m pretty well insulated now from all the financial uncertainties that ‘crat administrations bring.

            I took the excellent times since Nov 2016 to get my financial ducks lined up. So I have President Trump to thank for all my financial windfall.

            Considering where my wife and I started together in poverty way back in 1965, me as a two-striper in the Air Force, we are ecstatic to have been able to come as far as we have in spite of the disastrous policies of the previous administrations since 1988, until Trump was elected.

            Just the US stock market climb and my wife’s annuity put us into $84K/yr retirement income, and that’s before figuring in my AF retirement, both our social security checks, my disability check, and our real-estate holdings monthly income (which we put into a trust for our kids and grandkids).

            Not in my wildest wet dreams could I have wished for a better financial future than the one that President Trump’s election brought us and millions of other downtrodden, hard-working Americans.

            I kid you not.

            BTW, if you really are interested in US politics, read the political section of the NYT, WaPo, WSJ, Forbes, USN&WR, Time and The Economist to see the fears that the ‘crat power brokers are expressing.

  • avatar

    Cruze was put together in Lordstown, OH.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I am going to take an opposing view in that a strike would not be as harmful for GM as some might believe. Shutdown plants such as the one that makes the soon to be discontinued Impala and the slow selling Malibu would give dealers time to whittle down excess inventory. Also dealers have a healthy supply of Silverados and Sierras along with Equinox. Not saying that a settlement could not be reached sooner but UAW has more to lose from this than GM which is looking to cut production especially of slower selling vehicles. Shutting down a few more plants would actually help GM’s bottom line.

    • 0 avatar

      “Shutting down a few more plants would actually help GM’s bottom line.”

      Yes it would, but that is just ONE of the things that has the UAW so upset, the loss of UAW jobs, and it falls under “Job security” on the negotiating agenda.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @highdesertcat–And that is one of my points members are worried about loss of jobs. The UAW would actually be doing GM a favor and at this point GM is more interested in the bottom line than what POTUS says and about enthusiasts on this site that criticise GM. I am not a big fan of the current GM or Barra but I actually believe that this would not hurt GM as much as many think and if I were in charge I would want to stop production of models that are being discontinued or slow selling which under UAW contracts is much harder to do unless there is a strike.

    • 0 avatar

      GM has to be concerned about their bottom line, their profitability, self-sustainability and their corporate viability in the competitive US auto industry.

      GM is in a downward spiral, even with their trucks, and RAM is just beating the daylights out of GM trucks with the 5.7L HEMI, 3.6L PentaStar, quality interiors, superior ride handling, NVH, you name it, RAM blows GM off the road.

      Feature for feature, RAM is the better truck! Buyers are beginning to notice. GM fanboys will always buy GM, no matter what, but they are a dwindling bunch as they die off.

      The comical solution to GM’s noisy truck interiors is to pump in more noise through the speakers, albeit a combination of white and pink noise, like the BOSE noise-canceling headphones do.

      GM’s greatest hope is to woo young’uns into the GM fold, primarily because old dogs and hogs like me have left the GM fold for any number of reasons, each their own.

      My wife’s Avon-lady asked me to recommend a sedan for her, when she decided to retire her 8-yo Impala V6. Without hesitation I said “Avalon!” and she traded at the local Toyota dealer for a 2019 Avalon. Happy Gal! Loves it.

      To be fair, she also has an F150 that belonged to her husband before he died a few years ago; she tools around in that big pickup just to keep it road-worthy.

      The UAW is guaranteed one thing: there will be fewer UAW members in the future than there are today. Just like there are fewer UAW members today than there were prior to 2009.

      That’s a scary thought. Hence the push to baffle GM with bullsh!t so that the UAW can dazzle Ford, Fiatsler, et al with brilliance at those negotiations.

      Oh, and let’s not forget the full-bore, on-going drive to organize and unionize right-to-work state assembly plants, like VW and others in the South.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Agree at this point GM has nothing to lose from a strike. GM’s launch of the new Silverado and Sierra was a dud. Ram has a more compelling truck at this point Ram will just continue to take more sales away from Silverado and Sierra. I do like the Impala and the discontinued LaCrosse but they are no more. There is not enough to the Malibu to make it stand out in a highly competitive midsize car market which is shrinking by the day. Buick is a brand that has more relevance in China than the US, Cadillac has been so badly mismanaged that it is no longer a thought to most Americans (Cadillac has had more lives than a cat and I cannot see too many more).

    As for Toyota and Honda they are not bad but they are living on past reputations and their quality is not what it use to be. Hyundai and Kia have been constantly improving their products and they are the ones that are raising the bar. The Chinese will be the ones to watch in the future despite the current trade war.

    • 0 avatar

      The trade war with China will end, eventually, or remain at a stalemate which is also OK with me since it does mean money flowing into the US Treasury, and Chinese-made goods becoming more expensive and less desirable to buy for Norte Americanos.

      What I would like to see if President gets re-elected is for him to rip our European trade partners a new @sshole since they have enjoyed low or no tariffs on their goods imported into the US, while taxing and tariffing the hell out of American-made goods imported into their countries.

      Slap a 25% tariff on all European-made cars! That will get their undivided attention.

  • avatar

    GM + UAW = Happy Customers 4 Ever

    Massive, massive positive synergies.

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