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Published: Thursday, 9/29/2011

4-year pact with GM approved by union


DETROIT — Factory workers at General Motors Co. have voted overwhelmingly to approve a new four-year contract with the company that has profit-sharing instead of pay raises for most workers and promises thousands of new jobs.

The United Auto Workers union said yesterday that 65 percent of production workers voted for the deal, while 63 percent of skilled-trades workers such as electricians were in favor. Voting by GM’s 48,500 blue-collar workers ended yesterday.

GM workers at two northwest Ohio plants supported the contract. UAW Local 14 Toledo Powertrain plant, with about 1,500 members, voted 68 percent in favor of the agreement, and UAW Local 211 at GM’s Defiance Foundry, with about 1,100 members, voted 66 percent in favor.

The automaker was the first company to reach a deal with the union, which is now negotiating with Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC.

Northwest Ohio has a Ford engine plant in Lima. The region also has Chrysler’s Toledo Assembly complex which makes Jeep Wrangler and Liberty and Dodge Nitro vehicles, and Toledo Machining in Perrysburg Township.

The GM pact is a template for the other companies, but there will be differences. The deal sets the pay and benefits for more than 112,000 auto workers nationwide, and it also sets the bar for pay at foreign-owned auto plants in the United States, auto parts supply companies, and for other manufacturing businesses.

Under the deal, which runs through September, 2015, most of the workers won’t get annual pay raises. But they’ll get $5,000 signing bonuses, profit-sharing checks, and other payments that total at least $11,500 during the next four years. GM also promised to add at least 5,100 jobs and reopen an assembly plant in Spring Hill, Tenn.

Entry-level workers who now make a base wage of around $15.78 per hour will get 22 percent raises to $19.28. GM has about 1,900 entry-level workers who make about half the pay of longtime UAW members.

The deal includes offers for older employees to leave so it can hire new ones at entry-level wage. Eligible workers can get up to $10,000 if they retire within the next two years. There’s a $65,000 bonus for skilled-trades workers if they retire or leave the company between Nov. 1 and March 31.

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