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US auto strike nears end as union, GM reach tentative deal

NEW YORK: A wave of strikes that disrupted the three largest US automakers for six weeks looked to have been finally resolved on Monday (Oct 30), as the auto workers union reached a tentative agreement with holdout General Motors.

Joe Biden, who had joined striking employees on the picket line in a first for a sitting US president, praised what he called a “historic” pact that would “reward autoworkers who gave up much to keep the industry working”.

The GM deal announced by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union comes after pacts with Stellantis and Ford, appearing to end the strike on the “Big Three” automakers.

The UAW launched the labor action on Sep 15, marking the first simultaneous work stoppage of the three companies.

Workers were pushing for higher wages and other improvements, in particular relating to the transition to making electric vehicles.

“Like the agreements with Ford and Stellantis, the GM agreement has turned record profits into a record contract,” the UAW said in a statement on Monday.

The deal “provides more in base wage increases than GM workers have received in the past 22 years,” the union added.

The latest pact is similar to the other agreements and grants 25 percent in base wage increases through April 2028. Cost of living adjustments will cumulatively raise the top wage by 33 per cent to over US$42 an hour, the union said.

Other elements include an elimination of some wage tiers, and the deal also brings key groups including workers at Ultium Cells into the master agreement.

“The agreement reinstates major benefits lost during the Great Recession” of 2008-2009, the UAW said, adding that it also improves retirement.

In a separate statement, General Motors chief executive Mary Barra said: “GM is pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with the UAW that reflects the contributions of the team while enabling us to continue to invest in our future and provide good jobs.”

Barra added that GM is “looking forward to having everyone back to work across all of our operations.”

Related:

US auto union expands strike after GM profits top estimates

RETURN TO WORK

“GM workers will return to work while the agreement goes through the ratification process,” said the union.

At its height, the strike mobilized more than 45,000 of the UAW’s 146,000 members working for the Big Three automakers.

“For months we’ve said that record profits mean record contracts,” UAW President Shawn Fain said in an earlier statement, after the preliminary deal with Ford was reached.

“And UAW family, our Stand Up Strike has delivered,” he added.

In the case of Stellantis, some 5,000 jobs will be added by the Jeep maker over the course of the latest contract, according to Fain previously.

This was a turnaround from job cuts the automaker was pursuing before the negotiations.

While the wage increases in the tentative agreements are lower than the 40 percent sought by Fain when UAW launched the strike, they are considerably higher than the nine percent rise Ford initially proposed in August.

This month, Ford estimated the strike has cost it some US$1.3 billion.

The in-principle pacts still need to be ratified by workers in a vote, in a process that could take two weeks, a source close to negotiations said earlier.

With the Ford and Stellantis deals, members were also cleared to return to work at grounded factories.

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