While talks between the United Auto Workers and General Motors appear stuck in neutral even as the union’s strike against GM reaches the three-week mark, the UAW reports it has made substantial progress in negotiations with the Ford Motor Co.
Rory Gamble, the UAW vice president in charge of the union’s bargaining at Ford, said in a report to local union officers dated Oct. 3, that the UAW’s bargaining teams finished work in 18 of 20 subcommittees drafting language for a new UAW-Ford labor pact.
The remaining two subcommittees are still meeting, but the negotiations are very much in flux, Gamble said in his letter.
In addition, Gamble and other union officials briefed on the status of the talks at both Ford and General Motors said none of the key issues that will serve as the core of any “pattern” agreement have been addressed yet in the talks at Ford.
The UAW named GM as the target for this year’s negotiations at the beginning of September, meaning any key terms on issues such as wages or health care or the status of temporary workers the union negotiated with GM would be carried over into the tentative labor agreements with Ford and Fiat Chrysler.
The key issues in the dispute at GM, where strike-related losses are closing in on $1.5 billion, include wages, heath care cost sharing, a path to full-time employment for temporary workers and a faster climb to top wages for new full-time employees. In addition, GM-specific issues such as rules covering the utilization of skilled workers and potential plant closings also have not been resolved.
GM apparently has been willing to give some ground in areas such as profit sharing, health care and even wages but wants more leeway to add temporary workers under any new contract to offset the higher costs.
As part of its contract proposal earlier this week, GM did offer raises patterned after those included in the 2015 contract and to make some temporary workers full time.
The wage increase in the 2015 contract did not keep pace with inflation, according to the union’s analysis.
GM’s proposal on temporary workers fell short in the union’s eyes because it could be easily manipulated by GM to keep hundreds of temporary workers from ever reaching full-time status. In addition, temporary workers are not eligible for profit sharing or other bonuses.
The GM proposal said temporary workers could become full-time GM employees if they worked full-time as temporary employees for 36 months. However, temporary workers interviewed by TheDetroitBureau noted that their hours fluctuate constantly so they never know if they will work 40 hours in any given week.
Both Ford and FCA also use temporary workers extensively and their negotiators would certainly prefer to keep their ability to use temps intact. Both Ford and FCA also have complained the high cost of health, which steadily increases year in and year out at a pace the exceeds the rate of inflation.