Some of the gains the United Auto Workers made in the latest four-year pact it negotiated last year with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler are being realized as more than 1,050 temporary workers shift to permanent status.
Automakers have been using temporary or contract workers in plants for years now and it was a sore spot with the union and its members. In the deal, the companies agreed to convert those employees to permanent jobs, allowing them to attain the UAW’s top wages and benefits.
GM is transferring more than 650 people and Ford is converting 400 as they hit their first milestone dates. FCA isn’t required to shift any workers as it doesn’t have any conversion dates in its contract, which is unusual.
“UAW members negotiated and ratified a path to seniority status in the 2019 National Negotiations and because of their contract, 650 members will gain seniority status and benefits this month,” said Terry Dittes, UAW vice president and GM Department director.
“This life-changing event is a testament to our members’ hard work as permanent temporary employees and the power of collective bargaining that created this defined path for them to seniority status.”
At this point it is unclear how many employees at each plant will get bumped up, but GM’s truck plants are at the top of the list. However, they’re likely to come from the company’s plants in Flint, Michigan; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Arlington, Texas. Apparently, GM will convert 300 at the Flint plant.
Those plants produce the company’s popular full-size pickups and sport-utility vehicles and have been running full tilt trying to catch up with pent-up demand for those products since they re-opened during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ford converted employees, according to the Detroit News, at its Kansas City Assembly and Kentucky Truck plants, which also build full-size pickups and sport-utility vehicles. In January 2019, GM shifts more than 900 temporary employee positions at 30 sites. Ford converted 592.
The employees become eligible to move from temporary to permanent status after meeting certain guidelines, including having worked at the automaker for a certain amount of time. While the UAW didn’t apply a deadline to Fiat Chrysler, the Detroit Free Press reported union officials expect a similar event to occur soon at FCA.
Once moved, full-time employees receive improvements to their medical plan cost-share plus get dental and vision coverage, company contributions into their 401(k) plans, profit sharing and life insurance coverage, the Free Press reported. They also see an immediate increase in hourly pay rate of about $3 an hour, putting them on track for an hourly rate of more than $30 an hour.