United Auto Workers get a new GM deal, now focusing on Ford Motor

After agreeing to ratify a contract with GM, the labour union is turning to second-largest US automaker next.

    The United Auto Workers on Friday approved a deal for a new four-year labour contract with General Motors, ending a 40-day US automotive work stoppage, the longest since 1971 [File: Rebecca Cook/Reuters]
    The United Auto Workers on Friday approved a deal for a new four-year labour contract with General Motors, ending a 40-day US automotive work stoppage, the longest since 1971 [File: Rebecca Cook/Reuters]

    The United Auto Workers (UAW) union on Friday said it has chosen Ford Motor Co as the next United States automaker the union will negotiate with after workers at General Motors Co approved a new labour deal.

    The UAW said 57 percent of hourly workers at GM voted to approve the deal to end a 40-day US strike, which is the longest automotive labour stoppage since 1970.

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    GM Chairman and Chief Executive Mary Barra said in a statement the new contract "recognizes our employees for the important contributions they make to the overall success of the company, with a strong wage and benefit package and additional investment and job growth in our US operations".

    The UAW and Ford, the second-largest US automaker, are expected to begin talks on Monday. Ford and the UAW said earlier this month they had made "significant progress" in addressing many bargaining issues.

    Ford said it looks "forward to reaching a fair agreement that helps Ford enhance its competitiveness and preserve and protect good-paying manufacturing jobs".

    Workers at GM will begin to go back as early as Saturday under the new four-year contract, ending the strike that cost the number-one US automaker more than two billion dollars and costing the automaker about 300,000 units of lost production. GM will attempt to make up some of that production in the coming months.

    The union wrung higher pay and other benefits from GM as part of the deal to end the strike by about 48,000 workers.

    UAW leaders had recommended that the members at GM, who have remained on the picket lines, ratify the deal reached on October 16.

    The GM strike began on September 16, with UAW negotiators seeking higher pay for workers, greater job security, a bigger share of profit and protection of healthcare benefits. Other issues included the fate of plants GM targeted to close, as well as the use of lower-paid temporary workers.

    The strike at GM likely slashed at least 46,000 jobs from October's nonfarm US payrolls, the US Department Labor Department said on Friday.

    Under the deal, GM will invest nine billion dollars in the US, including $7.7bn directly in its plants, with the rest going to joint ventures. The Detroit company said it will also create or retain 9,000 UAW jobs, a substantial portion of which will be new, a source previously said. The contract offers $11,000 signing bonuses to members, and pay raises.

    The UAW previously agreed to temporary contract extensions with both automakers while it focused on GM.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency