Akerson: UAW Pact Shows 'Alignment' Between Union and New GM

Sept. 29, 2011
A two-to-one majority of union members ratified the four-year contract.

Both General Motors and the UAW are hailing the new four-year collective-bargaining agreement -- overwhelmingly ratified by the union on Wednesday -- as a win for the automaker and union members.

The $2 billion contract, which covers more than 48,000 GM workers, "recognizes hourly employees with a simpler and more transparent profit-sharing plan," while having limited impact on GM's fixed costs, the automaker said in a news release.

"The agreement is a win-win for our employees and our company," GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson said. "It underscores the alignment between the UAW and the new GM in our efforts to drive long-term success, and gives all of our employees a direct stake in the quality of our products and our performance."

GM also touted the contract for including a new performance bonus based on quality metrics.

"Importantly, it protects GM's low break-even level in the event of a U.S. industry downturn, and preserves GM's fortress balance sheet, with no pension increases and the capping of the hourly defined benefit pension plan population," the automaker said.

Meanwhile, the UAW said the contract will create 6,400 new jobs in the United States, by shifting work from Mexico back to American soil.

The union hailed the labor agreement for raising entry-level wages to $19.28 over the term of the contract and providing a $5,000 signing bonus for all employees.

"When it seems like everyone in America is getting cuts in benefits and paying higher co-pays and deductibles, we were able to maintain and improve on our current benefits," said UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, who directs the union's GM department.

"Most significant for our members, we were able to add unlimited $25 doctor's-office visits. To the credit of GM and the UAW, this improvement will both increase the long-term health of our members and reduce overall plan costs."

The labor agreement took effect immediately after being ratified by a two-to-one majority of UAW members on Wednesday.

"The UAW and GM entered into this set of bargaining as America struggles with record levels of unemployment and an economy that shows little sign of improvement," said UAW President Bob King. "Because of President Obama's and the American taxpayers' backing of our jobs and our companies, we were determined to work together with GM management to grow jobs in the U.S. and to get more Americans back to work, and we are doing just that.

" ... Now that GM is posting profits again, our members are sharing in the success, while ensuring GM's continued profitability."

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