By on October 22, 2019

Voting is ongoing among UAW locals this week as the union attempts to put a contract deal in place between its members and General Motors.

Thus far, the voting process has been met with mixed emotions, with one assembly plant opting to reject the proposal. Outside that plant, the ongoing GM strike was marred by the death of a picketing plant worker.

WKRN reports that UAW member Roy McCombs was struck and killed by a vehicle on a bridge near the Spring Hill, Tennessee assembly and propulsion facility early Tuesday morning. While police are investigating, it seems the collision was not intentional. GM workers are still on strike after a decision last week by the UAW’s National GM Council, which signed off on the proposed tentative agreement reached with the automaker but agreed to continue the strike until the deal is ratified by members.

In a statement, the UAW expressed its condolences to McComb’s family and stated it was working to ensure the safety of members marching on picket lines.

Spring Hill builds Cadillac’s XT5 and XT6 crossovers, as well as the GMC Acadia and various engines, among them the well-regarded 6.2-liter V8 and GM’s new 2.7-liter turbo four. Employing 3,300 hourly workers, Spring Hill narrowly voted to reject the contract proposal.

According to Automotive News, this round of voting isn’t likely to return overwhelming support for the proposed deal. While not all UAW locals have returned results, those that have show that only 59 percent of hourly workers are in favor. Among skilled trades workers, whose vote is separate from that of production workers, 77 percent back the deal thus far.

As of Tuesday morning, 3,683 workers have given the deal the thumbs-up, versus 2,116 on the no-dice side. This prompted Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst to write that “some market doubt” exists as to whether the deal will be ratified and the strike ended.

Spring Hill is the largest plant to show its cards, but it won’t be the last. The votes of several other large assembly sites have yet to be tabulated before the process ends on Friday.

[Image: General Motors]

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34 Comments on “GM Strike Update: Contract Votes Reveal a Divided UAW Membership...”


  • avatar
    NoID

    Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    They maintained 3% of health care costs, which is itself a major coup. Forcing GM to keep Hamtramck open is another big win, as is the path to get all workers on the same tier of employment.

    Notice that more spoiled line workers are stamping their feet, while the skilled trades, the ones who are more routinely interacting with their white-collar brethren and sistren at the tech centers (and from my observation don’t generally buy the “Us vs. Them” mentality that the UAW tries to sell their membership) are more on board.

    I’m 100% pro union, and there’s plenty for them to be lobbying for. But this deal is about as good as it can get for a company that’s trying to restructure and cut costs, it would be asinine to reject after striking over it for 6 weeks.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Hmm. akear has been predicting a vote failure with a longer strike, and I’ve been inclined to agree. Maybe news of Spring Hill will embolden the other plants to think they should hold out for a better deal.

    In any case, this could be the last deal GM negotiates with the UAW.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    I’m surprised they voted it down in Spring Hill.

    If I understand correctly, if a majority if the union members accept the contract, it’s approved. It doesn’t have to be a majority of the facilities, right?

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I believe it only needs a 70% approval rate to be adopted.

      I heard this in passing, I believe it was on CNBC, so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

      What if it turns out to be only a 51% majority requirement of the members who actually vote?

      And not all members will choose to vote.

      • 0 avatar
        CaddyDaddy

        HDC: it’s not who votes or what % is needed etc…. when you have a centrally controlled organization that obtains its income thru theft, intimidation, political bribes etc. it’s who counts the votes is all that matters.

        If those in power dictate it so, it shall occur.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        In Ontario (I honestly don’t know the percentages in American states) it is 50%+1 of the votes cast, by secret ballot. And a rep from the government can be present during the vote counting.

        Generally the union leadership wants their members to accept a proposed agreement, as it was the leadership who negotiated it, and presented it to the union members to vote on.

        Too bad that so many don’t understand how these things actually work.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          “Too bad that so many don’t understand how these things actually work.”

          It’s an acquired interest.

          I was born into a two-union household where my dad belonged to the IBEW and my mom to the forerunner of the hospitality industry union.

          Eventually they both found better, high-paying jobs and quit the unions altogether.

          So someone working in a non-union environment, IOW the majority, has no interest in knowing more about how unions work.

    • 0 avatar
      Robotdawn

      I’m not surprised about Spring Hill at all. I live fairly close and the recent transfers in, mostly from D-Ham and Lordstown are not exactly the cream of the crop. As a fellow Yankee I’m embarrassed at their entitled and crude behavior.
      Not just during the strike itself either; which has seen almost a dozen arrests, nails thrown on the highway and some poor woman having her windshield busted out when she missed her exit and ended up at the plant.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        Can’t think of a better way to send the locals to the Toyota/Honda/Nissan/etc dealers.

      • 0 avatar
        CaddyDaddy

        It appears that it’s all about what mgt. can withhold and what the UAW can extort. There is a missing part of the equation “customer / product”. As for the crude behavior on the picket line, I can imagine the sabotage on the line as a retribution to mgt. The only looser is the customer. ….and lets not even talk about mgt. going for lowest bidder components. ……oh vay, makes me want to buy a Kentucky or Texas built Toyota.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          My collective family is on our 12th US-built non-UAW vehicle. Proud to employ Americans…..

          • 0 avatar
            Peter Gazis

            Dave M.

            After decades of driving imports, my dad & brother are back with GM vehicles ( Acadia Denali & Impala LT)
            Love the way they drive, and don’t care where the vehicles were built.

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    I like the position where the UAW wants vehicles sold in the US, to be made in the US, aka Blazer. That, and keeping the pay/benefit status quo and a COLA bump is a fair starting point. These GM executive clowns have kept the house of cards going without addressing reality inside and unrelated to the UAW. Lordstown could have easily been kept alive if not for crappy management decisions on flexibility and product.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “These GM executive clowns have kept the house of cards going without addressing reality inside and unrelated to the UAW.”

      I would say the opposite:
      “These UAW clowns have kept the house of cards going without addressing reality inside and unrelated to GM.”

      For example, 3% benefits contribution by the workers is unheard of today, and it’s a major expense for GM to bear. To maintain that status quo, the obvious solution is to employ fewer workers. In the end, the union bosses are always OK with this form of blue collar cannibalism.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      The health care status quo is a total coup and should never have been agreed to. Should have been a larger wage increase and big bump in health care contribution percentage.

  • avatar
    chris724

    Unions are the implied threat of violence. You have to play their game or there will “be consequences”. This is organized crime.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Look back through union history and you will find the employer starting violence far more often than the union.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        When was the last time an American employer committed violence against union labor? Last time a union committed violence or used the threat of violence to further its goals was today.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Picketing is violence? That’s a new one. If picketing with signs and chants is violence, I’d hate to hear what you must think of open carry demonstrations.

          Employers largely don’t commit the sort of anti-union violence that they did routinely until the 1950s. But they illegally fire or punish workers who are seeking to organize every single day.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Strong arming workers into sabotaging Ford Explorers on the production line constitutes violence. Bringing up violence you claim was committed in the 1950s in discussing a strike occurring now is more proof that I’m right about you.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I’ll believe that when I see actual evidence of it.

            In the meantime, there’s nothing preventing employers from doing exactly what they did in the bad old days, except what’s left of the NLRB and state employment regulators. People act like the incentives for employer violence have magically gone away. They haven’t. The history could be repeated any time.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Evidence like Explorers in need of repairs before they can be delivered, or evidence like you’d need to realize that Biden is dirty in the Ukraine and Trump isn’t?

            My experiences as a Teamster and then as a consultant at UPS taught me that the best working environment can be destroyed by union violence for no reason other than union avarice. During the strike I also learned that police associations like the Fraternal Order of Police are Teamster affiliated, even in states that supposedly don’t allow public employee unions at the time. Most union violence will never be documented or prosecuted as a result. My experience managing union electricians on construction sites in the city taught me that unions will use violence to sell raffle tickets, not just to keep people in line or alter outcomes. My experience breaking a call center union for British Airways from hundreds of miles away is now a fond memory. No violence was committed on BA’s behalf.

            Have you ever been involved in a strike? Have you ever come to work to find a 40-foot inflatable rat blocking the door during a contract negotiation with a union that is nothing but a rent-seeking impediment to achieving deadlines? That’s guaranteed ownership of your project, enforced by union cops if you should complain about them concussing a couple of suits?

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @Todd,Well then we were once in the same line of work. Until I ‘saw the error of my ways’.

            And the violence and acts of intimidation that I witnessed could fill a book (and have actually appeared in some, as well as court records).

            Most perpetrated by employers and ‘strikebreakers’.
            Some by unions. However the majority of union members have zero interest in violence. Nor do their elected local leaders.

            They remain in the workplace. Whereas the corporate ‘support team’ leave once the dispute/strike/contract/decertification/certification attempt is settled and move on to something else. As do the people organizing the strike breaking.

            Breaking unions/strikes is a highly mercenary, amoral but surprisingly lucrative occupation. If you have the stomach for and ability to partake in the inherent intimidation/violence.

      • 0 avatar
        aja8888

        When? 75 years ago?

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          In reality there are far more incidents on record of intimidation and/or violence being committed by employers. In particular against foreign workers.

          In Ontario, which is relatively peaceful, this occurred regularly right up until at least the turn of this century.

          Since then for some reason the most violent strikes in Ontario have been those involving the universities and/or colleges. Nothing like an irate classics graduate student to cause violence and havoc. ;-)

          Check the history of many of the private ‘security’ companies and you will see that they had a long record of anti-union activities.

  • avatar

    Maybe the strikers are going to have to desert the workers at Lordstown. It looks as if they have the votes for a deal now. These workers have families to support and they just can’t follow Lordstown workers to the unemployment line.

    The best news of the strike is that the CT6-V is going to be saved. It is the one GM sedan that is globally competitive.

    The sad part of the strike is they really didn’t stop the outsourcing. They got a pay rasie to keep quite on the issue.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      There’s no way you can be competitive long term with the drag of unionization when most competitors are non-union. The formula that worked from the 1960s and before is dead. Eventually GM will either build outside of the US or not at all. These days “look for the union label” means customers looking to AVOID it.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        Most global competitors are union for the moment. When China shows up with completely identical GM, VW and Honda clones, that will no longer be the case. For the past fifty years, the problem has been that the competition didn’t have the UAW albatross around their necks. Other countries have less adversarial unions. It is possible that includes South Korea, where not that long ago violent mob actions were the national pastime. Can the UAW learn that they’re not entitled to do their jobs badly and for less time than their customers? Some of them can, and hopefully they’ll find jobs at Toyota or Honda factories in the future.

  • avatar
    redapple

    STEPH

    A minor nit to pick.
    I believe the 6.2 is made at my old plant. Tonawanda.
    It would be extremely unusual for any engine to be made at a second plant 500 miles away – much less a large V8.
    You say above it is made in spring hill.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      gmdotmediadotcom lists the 6.2 / 2.0 / 2.7 as Spring Hill built products

    • 0 avatar
      Scott

      I am pretty sure that the v8s are only made at Tonawanda and St.Catharines, powertrain, maybe Spring Hill does some final assembly on them, not sure. If GM says the 6.2 is among the products built there they probably are (or wer) at some point. Considering we don’t have the machining capacity yet to build more there is something suspect about this.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Tick tock. It took a corrupt 20 billion dollar taxpayer-funded, never repaid bailout of the UAW pension fund to save this lumbering, wheezing terminal patient last time. The next recession should put them in the ground.

    The only people defending them here are the ones whose paycheck or pension check comes from GM. I don’t blame them.

    In the end, when the taxpayers are finally done subsidizing failure, and the only customers are GM employees, rental fleets and government agencies, the UAW will have proven to be the biggest contributor to the death of GM as an American automobile manufacturer, just as they have been the biggest factor in its decline.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I have mentioned elsewhere that this latest UAW temper tantrum and acting up has driven a few more GM fans into the waiting open arms of the competition.

      I am no longer a GM fan since 2008 but I resolutely side with Ms Barra on this one. She’s trying to keep GM relevant, not only in the US auto market, but the global auto market as well. The UAW is not helping here.

      But what goes around, comes around. It did in 2008-2009 and it will again in the not too distant future.


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