The United Auto Workers managed to win broad health-care coverage for the second-tier workers at General Motors and a $60,000 bonus for up to 4,000 long-term GM employees who agree retire during the first half of 2016.
The health-care package, which includes dental and vision coverage at time when many employers are scaling back health-care plans or piling on new co-pays and deductibles, comes on top of the substantial wage increase that will give second tier, or “in progression” workers an opportunity to reach top levels after eight years on the job.
The bargaining committee secured a clear path for in-progression members to achieve traditional wages. All in-progression employees are being moved to traditional health care plan, according to the UAW.
As part of the settlement negotiated over the weekend, GM agreed to pay each of its 52,000 hourly workers an $8,000 signing bonus once the contract is ratified and included a $2,000 bonus as well as a raise for temporary workers, who have been employed by GM for more than 90 days. Both the health-care provision and the signing bonus are add ons to the contract the union negotiated with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV.
“It’s a very rich agreement,” UAW President Dennis Williams told reporters after the UAW-GM Council had endorsed the tentative agreement also includes investment commitments in 12 different sites and creates or retains 3,300 jobs over the contract period. The new investments will total $1.9 billion in commitments from GM in addition to $6.4 billion in previously secured investments.
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“We believe this agreement gives UAW-GM members significant raises and stronger benefits that protect income security and job security,” Williams added.
“We have brought our members’ priorities to the table and we look forward to hearing from them as the ratification process moves forward. This is a strong transformative agreement that gives all workers and their families wage raises and job security now and in the years to come,” said UAW vice president Cindy Estrada, the union’s top negotiator with GM.
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The tentative agreement includes a $60,000 bonus for up to 4,000 eligible production employees who retire between Feb. 1 and May 1, 2016, as determined under the normal and early retirement provisions of the national agreement.
The union expects GM to replace the 4,000 retirees with lower paid entry-level employees who will take eight years to grow into the top wage, but will enjoy health-care benefits after 90 days.
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In addition to retiring thousands of workers eligible for full pension benefits and replacing them with less expensive new hires, the basic profit sharing plan, which pays workers $1,000 for every $1 billion in pre-tax North American profits, will remain unchanged, Estrada said.