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Published: Tuesday, 9/20/2011

United Auto Workers leaders from around nation recommend that members approve new contract

Line worker Randee Boose assembles a Chevrolet Silverado a pickup truck at the General Motors Flint Assembly plant in Flint, Mich. Line worker Randee Boose assembles a Chevrolet Silverado a pickup truck at the General Motors Flint Assembly plant in Flint, Mich.

DETROIT — Union leaders from General Motors factories around the country have endorsed a new four-year contract with the company.

They are recommending that GM's 48,500 factory workers approve the deal in votes during the next week.

The agreement reached Friday includes a $5,000 signing bonus, but has no annual pay raises for most workers over the life of the contract. However, in addition to the signing bonus, they'll get a minimum of $3,500 in profit-sharing next year and $250 per year for meeting quality targets, according to a summary of the deal.

Some of GM's 2,400 entry-level workers will get $3.50-per-hour pay raises, to $19.28 per hour. Now they make from $14 to $16 per hour, about half the pay of a longtime UAW worker.

The union also said GM is offering payments for workers to retire early or leave the company. Eligible workers can get up to $10,000 bonuses if they retire within the next two years. There's also a $65,000 bonus for skilled-trades workers like electricians and pipe-fitters if they retire or leave the company between Nov. 1 and March 31.

With the incentives, GM is clearly trying to clear out older workers and cut its labor costs by hiring new workers at the entry-level wage.

The union also won promises of new work and jobs at several factories. It will reopen the Spring Hill, Tenn., assembly plant, which will build two midsize cars, the summary said.

UAW President Bob King said he hasn't decided if the union will start talks with Chrysler or Ford next. He also would not talk about an angry letter sent last week by Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne accusing King of missing a meeting to sign a new deal.

Marchionne was on his way back to the U.S. from Europe on Tuesday and may take part in the talks.

General Motors Co. shares fell 30 cents to $22.75 in midday trading Tuesday.

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