Business

UAW leaders reach tentative deal with GM to end U.S. autoworker strike

AFP-JIJI

Leaders of the United Auto Workers union announced Wednesday they have reached a tentative deal with General Motors to end a nationwide strike that began a month ago.

The UAW GM National Council, which includes local union chapters, will convene on Thursday to consider the agreement before it is sent to the full union membership for ratification, the union said in a statement.

The strike will continue until the council approves the proposed agreement. But union leaders also will decide Thursday whether to continue striking until all members vote, the UAW said.

Neither the UAW nor GM released details of the tentative deal that would end a strike that has dragged into its fifth week, with rising impacts to both the company and the workers.

Nearly 50,000 hourly workers have been on strike since Sept. 16.

The full employment hit has been placed as high as 150,000 people throughout the industry, including tens of thousands of salaried GM workers and auto supply employees.

“The number one priority of the national negotiation team has been to secure a strong and fair contract that our members deserve,” said UAW Vice President Terry Dittes.

Dittes said union leaders would refrain from commenting on the details “out of respect for our members” until UAW GM leaders hear all the details.

A GM spokesman confirmed the UAW statement and said “additional details will be provided at the appropriate time.”

GM said last week that it had committed to “billions of dollars in new investment” and “thousands of new jobs” in the United States.

Labor experts have viewed the vote of the full UAW membership as more of a wild card this time than usual due to a corruption probe that has resulted in U.S. criminal charges against about a dozen UAW officials and which included an August FBI raid of the home of UAW President Gary Jones.

The Justice Department has charged the UAW officials with embezzling union funds that went to pay for golf clubs and expensive villas for long stays enjoyed by UAW officials. New revelations about the scandal have featured prominently in Detroit media since the strike began.

The UAW-GM negotiations have focused on job security, health benefits and a quicker transition to permanent worker status for temporary workers who are paid less.

The talks have been complicated by anger at GM after it effectively shuttered five plants in North America last year in a cost-cutting move that the union has argued violated the prior agreement.

The union has pushed for job security pledges and promises from GM to continue to invest in US plants that have built combustion-engine vehicles at a time when GM is focused on electric cars and developing autonomous technology as its future strategy.

The strike has slashed GM’s operating profits by $2 billion and lowered take-home pay for workers by up to $4,000, according to analysis by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Labor experts have cautioned that a prolonged strike could do irreparable damage to the automaker.

GM shares rose 1.8 percent to $36.91 in midday trading.

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