In a last-ditch effort to avert a massive strike, General Motors on Thursday agreed to boost its pay increases for employees, following demands from the union for a large-scale pay hike, as the clock runs down before its labor deal with members of the United Auto Workers expires Thursday night.
GM on Thursday pledged to offer unionized employees a 20% wage increase over the four-year contract, including a 10% increase in the first year of the deal, short of the 36% boost the union demands—the union initially demanded a 40% pay bump over the duration of the four-year contract.
The Detroit-based automaker also offered a wage bump for temporary workers to $20 per hour, as well as a 25% increase in employees’ retirement healthcare plan, writing in a statement that the company is “at a crossroads on our path to building a company that can sustain all of us for decades to come,” while calling the offer “compelling and unprecedented.”
The pay raise matches an offer from rival Ford, while Chrysler parent company Stellantis offered a 17.5% increase, though UAW President Shawn Fain this week called those offers “inadequate,” arguing the offers on the table do not “reflect the sacrifices and contributions our members have made to these companies,” and that the union is prepared to strike “in a way they’ve never seen before.”
In addition to pay increases, which UAW said would “offset inflation and match the generous salary increases of company executives,” the union is also demanding an elimination of a tiered wage and benefits system, as well as a reduction in employees’ work weeks from 40 hours to 32.
$5.4 billion. That’s how much Moody’s Analytics estimates each of the Big Three automakers could lose from halted production over the duration of a six-week strike, roughly the same amount it said General Motors lost during a 40-day strike in 2019. All three of the companies could offset those losses with supplies of “ample cash and borrowing capacity,” Moody’s said, though it warned a prolonged strike could hamper the automakers’ pushes toward producing electric vehicles, which all three have embraced in recent years as the EV market skyrockets.
UAW union members voted overwhelmingly last month to authorize the strike, with roughly 97% of union members at the Big Three automakers supporting the measure under the grounds that the companies “refuse to reach a fair deal.” Under the authorization vote, the union warned it could call for the strike once the current contract expires at midnight on September 14. Talks of the strike came nearly four years to the day after union members voted by a wide margin in favor of another strike at GM, which lasted for 40 days and which GM estimated cost it between $3.8 billion and $4 billion after nearly 48,000 employees stopped working. That strike ended when union members approved the current four-year labor deal.
All three companies have reduced their headcounts and offered employees buyouts over the past year: Ford conducted a round of cuts in June affecting nearly 1,000 employees, the Wall Street Journal reported, though the company told Forbes at the time it was merely adjusting its staffing levels around “skills and expertise,” and was hiring “in key areas.” Last month, GM announced plans to cut 940 positions this fall as it closes an information technology center in Arizona. GM also offered a large-scale buyout program to employees, leading to 5,000 workers leaving, while Stellantis offered buyouts to more than 33,000 employees in the U.S.
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