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UAW-GM-workers-holding-hands-Bill-Pugliano-Getty.jpg Bill Pugliano/Stringer/Getty Images

GM Employees Return to Work Under New Contract Negotiated by Emboldened UAW

The terms of the GM agreement may have implications for soon-to-come negotiations with Ford and Fiat Chrysler.

General Motors workers began returning to work on Monday, after ratifying their new employee contract and putting an end to the six-week-long strike.

According a GM press release, the contract includes a “clear path” for temporary employees to become permanent employees after three years of work. Healthcare costs and benefits will remain unchanged, with workers continuing to pay 3% of the costs. Both temporary employees and health care ranked highly among striking workers’ demands.

Terry Dittes, UAW vice president, said in a statement that workers’ “courageous stand addressed the two-tier wages structure and permanent temporary worker classification.”

Other items in the contract included a signing bonus of $11,000 for regular employees and $4,500 for temporary workers; two 3% raises and two 4% lump-sum payments, doled out for the four-year contract; and $7.7 billion of promised investment in U.S. jobs and factories.

Mary Barra, chairman and CEO of GM, said in a press release, “GM is proud to provide good-paying jobs to tens of thousands of employees in America and to grow our substantial investment in the U.S.”

GM said the $7.7 billion in investments would include financing production of a new electric pickup truck for the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant, $4 billion for unspecified “additional vehicle programs and existing facility improvements,” and the construction of a battery factory near or in Lordstown, which GM claims would create 1,000 jobs.

In addition, GM announced that its existing Lordstown plant would be sold to Lordstown Motors Corp., a new company formed by the CEO of Cincinnati-based Workhouse Group, a maker of electric vehicles. According to the press release, Lordstown Motors Corp. has “plans to create 400 manufacturing jobs” there.

The fate of Lordstown, which has become a symbol of sustained Rust Belt woe since its GM plant was shuttered in early March of this year, was a sticking point for negotiations. Workers in Spring Hill, Tennessee, many of them former Lordstown employees, voted against the contract because they said it didn’t do enough for the beleaguered Ohio town.

The GM-UAW decision is likely to have consequences for UAW negotiations with other American automotive manufacturers. A different UAW press release, also released Friday, announced that the UAW would soon begin negotiations with Ford.

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