UAW hoping to cash in on GM's success during negotiations

Published: Jul. 16, 2019 at 6:18 PM EDT
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(7/16/2019) - "I look forward to having productive discussions during the next several weeks on how we as GM and UAW leaders will build a stronger future and lead the transformation of an industry that we all know is changing rapidly," General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said.

"The message I've heard loud and clear from our members, just as the UAW workers have been there for GM our UAW bargaining team is charged with making sure that GM will be there for the workers," Gary Jones, the UAW International President, said.

The two sides shook hands Tuesday, marking the beginning of contract negotiations.

They're discussing what the next 4 year contract between General Motors and the UAW will look like.

"It's the start of a process that will last, for sure I would think 2 months, at a minimum, it could be less than that, but generally two months, " explained U of M Flint's Business Professor Keith Moreland.

He said the union is ready to enjoy GM's success over the past decade.

"During that time, along with selling a lot of cars, they've been able to control costs and really control employee costs," he said. "The union members have made some concessions and haven't always - they would argue - participated in this success in the last 10 years."

But Moreland said, the future isn't clear. So, GM might push back.

"They might be thinking, boy this could be difficult to commit to spending more in this contract, if we don't know how good the business is going to be, how the market is going to be," he explained.

Plus Moreland said, we've seen GM stop production at four U.S. plants recently. And, while some of that money is being re-allocated to other spots, like the Flint Assembly, Moreland believes trust is an issue.

"You know, that could cause them to just be more cautious and careful in exactly the terms that they're agreeing to to change production levels and things like that," he explained.

Moreland added temporary workers, who are helping make GM more flexible is a concern for the UAW, as well as closing the gap on the various pay levels.

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