Council votes to recommend ratification of GM, UAW contract
After local union leaders came together in Detroit to be briefed on a tentative contract agreement between the United Auto Workers Union and General Motors, the UAW GM Council has voted to recommend it be ratified.
If it is ratified, the GM Lordstown plant would officially close.
An assistance package, however, has been negotiated for UAW members at the local plant, who were active on November 26, 2018, and are working at another GM facility, or those who declined a placement offer.
Some of the other highlights of the tentative agreement include a shortened path for full-time temporary workers to get permanent status, a ratification bonus of $11,000 for hourly and salaried workers as well as lifting the cap on profit sharing.
Though the Lordstown plant would close if the agreement is ratified, General Motors Spokesman David Barnas said, "GM is committed to future investment and job growth in the state of Ohio."
According to the statement, projects planned for the Mahoning Valley include the opportunity to bring battery cell production to the area, which would bring around 1,000 jobs.
The statement also says the sale of the GM Lordstown Complex to Lordstown Motors Corp. would bring 400 manufacturing jobs as the company plans to build electric pickup trucks for commercial fleet customers.
Barnas says these two initiatives are not covered under the proposed tentative agreement.
During a news conference on Thursday, UAW Brian Rothenberg was questioned on why this was not included in the tentative contract. He said it takes two people to negotiate and that UAW officials did everything they could.
"I think that you will see that we tried to do our best when we realized the situation for the workers in those plants by our assistance package we were able to negotiate. Because the unions exist, we were able to do that," Rothenberg said.
UAW Local 1112 President Tim O'Hara also weighed in after the news, saying that a lot of local people were unhappy that the Lordstown plant and others were left out of the mix. He also didn't seem confident GM would re-tool the local complex as a battery plant.
“At this point, after what happened with us at Lordstown, it’s hard to believe anything General Motors says. I mean, they’ve lied continuously. Not just about us, but a lot of things," O'Hara said.
O'Hara said he does not see many if any, 1112 members voting yes to ratify the agreement without a product coming back to the Lordstown plant.
The tentative agreement also does not include new products for other plants, including Baltimore Transmission and Warren Transmission.
O'Hara said that in Thursday's meeting, union officials told him they tried to get those plants to stay open.
When 21 News asked UAW Regional Director Rich Rankin if the negotiating team sacrificed those plants, he said he did not believe so and that GM was not willing to put work into those plants.
"Me personally, Lordstown is my home. It's where I started. I'm not happy about this, but at the end of the day, the membership gets the final say to vote. We aren't telling them how to vote," Rankin said.
General Motors is encouraging the UAW to move as quickly as possible to ratify this tentative agreement so they can get back to producing cars for customers.
UAW Vice President Terry Dittes said that "ultimately, UAW members will make the decision to ratify the agreement."
Ratification meetings will start on Saturday. Union officials are expected to have their ballots turned in by Friday, October 25. The GM UAW Council recommended that United Auto Workers remain on strike until the ratification vote.
Members should contact their local UAW representatives for information about voting.
Below are statements from local lawmakers on Thursday's news.
Senator Sherrod Brown released a statement saying, "I trust UAW members to make the decision that's best for them, and I in no way want to influence their vote. I've also fought side by side with Lordstown workers after GM unilaterally closed their plant. I will continue to stand behind GM's workers and the Lordstown community to push GM to honor the dignity of work."
Senator Rob Portman released a statement saying, in part, "It's good that they have a tentative agreement because if it's approved, people will get back to work, which is a good thing. And it's bad, in my view, because apparently there's nothing for the plant in Lordstown and that concerns me a lot. My hope is that the UAW would prevail in their effort to get GM to recommit to this plant."