Flint GM workers vote on whether to ratify contract
Fri, 23 Sep 2011 20:26:55 GMT —
Genesee County General Motors workers head to the ballot boxes voting on whether to ratify the negotiated UAW tentative contract.
The union says it went into these negotiations in a tough spot, GM recently emerged from bankruptcy protection and its workers can not strike.
"It's the best that we're going to get right now," says Flint GM worker Mukhtar Harara, who drives in from Taylor.
GM UAW workers say they would have liked to have gotten more from the deal, but they're not that disappointed with what's in the tentative contract.
For starters, there's a reportedly $5,000 signing bonus for active workers.
New hires, often called tier two workers, who make roughly half of more seniored workers, would receive a $3.00 an hour raise over the term of the contract, plus better health benefits.
"They deserve it. The two tier workers deserve more than what they get. The cost of living is high for everybody," says Harara.
The contract also includes profit-sharing bonuses, which amounted to $4,000 last year.
However, there are some negatives.
UAW Local 659 President Reggie Smith says, "My only disappointment might have been that we weren't able to give back some of the benefits for retirees."
Those benefits were negotiated out of the last deal, cutting eye and dental coverage for retirees.
However, the union says a percentage of profit-sharing will go into the retiree benefits account in the first quarter of next year.
The contract does not include a cost of living adjustment.
Some workers say this contract continues to strip workers of what they deserve. They say some benefits will never return.
"Nope, never get to have what we had, what my dad fought and died for. It's never going to happen again," says Flint GM worker George Nolane.
"Active workers have been looking to get something back. Maybe it's not as much as they wanted, but sometimes that's what happens in negotiations."
Union leaders say retirees play one of the biggest roles in the company. They say for every active worker there are around 10 retirees.
For approval, it needs a simple majority.