Tom Krisher, Associated Press
Published Friday, September 20, 2019 6:21 am EDT
DETROIT – An offer by General Motors to invest $ 7 billion in US facilities includes $ 2 billion of joint ventures and new factory suppliers that would pay workers less than union wages, an informed person said.
The offer is a major issue that could disrupt an agreement between United Auto Workers and the company to end a national strike, now on its fourth day. About 49,000 UAW workers have been on picket lines since Monday in a contract dispute over wages, health care costs, profit sharing, job security and other issues.
The $ 2 billion investment from entities other than GM is important because these factories would not be run as typical GM plants. Although workers at these facilities are represented by the UAW, they would receive much less than the full salary of about $ 30 an hour, said the person, who requested anonymity because details of contract negotiations are confidential. The union wants to add jobs that pay the highest wage in the UAW.
On Sunday, GM made the offer public, saying its investment included 5,400 jobs, most of them hired. But the person informed about the talks said only 2,700 new jobs would be added. The rest are jobs that would be retained because of investments.
The person said the union negotiators were disappointed after the company informed them of the details on Wednesday. Additional details were not available.
GM spokesman Dan Flores declined to comment on the offer. GM said on Sunday it will invest in eight facilities in four states, introduce new electric trucks, make salary or lump sum increases and give each worker a $ 8,000 bonus when the deal is ratified.
The announcement of the offer shortly before the strike began at midnight on Monday was designed to warm up trade union negotiators, who until then said the company's response to union proposals was slow. UAW Vice President Terry Dittes, GM's chief negotiator, told the company that if the offer had been made earlier, the strike could have been avoided.
The $ 2 billion investment from joint ventures and suppliers also includes a proposal to set up an electric vehicle battery assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, where the company is in the process of closing a small car assembly plant, the company said. person. In addition, GM will pay for an electric pickup truck that would enter the Detroit-Hamtramck factory, which the company also wants to close.
The Lordstown facility would offer lower wages, the person said.
The number of paid workers at Lordstown facilities is a problem, because electric vehicles must replace gasoline-powered vehicles in the future. CEO Mary Barra predicted a "all-electric future" for GM, which means jobs in gas-fired cars could be at risk.
On Thursday, Dittes reported many unresolved issues in the talks, but said progress was being made. He made the comments in a letter to union members.