If UAW members ratify the contract, what does GM get? 

By Frank Hammer, October 21, 2019

It’s clear that GM wants the terms of the tentative contract with the UAW; it’s willing to pony up $11,000 per worker for a “yes” vote ($3,000 more than in 2015), and even $4,500 per “temporary,” non-seniority worker.

  1. Despite GM effectively closing 3 UAW-represented plants in defiance of the 2015 contract, the language contained in the governing “Doc. 13” was reinstated without change. GM prevented the UAW from adding language forbidding the company from using “product un-allocation” to close a plant. The UAW’s lawsuit earlier this year charging management with a violation of Doc. 13 was settled on management’s terms. The new tentative agreement gives GM a green light to “un-allocate” plants through 2023. (p. 132, 327)*
  1. New language obligates the UAW local leadership to take on management roles by pledging even more adherence to the requirements of Global Manufacturing Systems (GMS), which the contract identifies as a “joint program.” The language requires “efficient, effective, full joint execution of GMS,” which translates into local leadership fulfilling management’s mandates, at the expense of representing workers on the shop floor. Described as the “cornerstone” of “job security,” GMS language anticipates just the opposite: further job losses. What happens to workers whose jobs are eliminated? They’ll be “redeployed to work within the bargaining unit,” that is, if its “available.” (p. 165-71)
  1. Far from being shut down, joint activities will come under more complete management control. The corrupt practices of UAW appointees in the Center for Human Resources (UAW-GM CHR) bureaucracy opened the door for wholesale GM takeaways. Local union appointees remain but will require management approval. Funding decisions will be up to management. Education programs – PEL, Tuition Assistance (for retirees) and youth scholarships are eliminated. (p. 172-174, 205, 207)
  1. The UAW’s other lawsuit against GM was also settled on GM’s terms. The UAW relinquished its claim that GM couldn’t keep temporary employees on the job (at the Fort Wayne plant) while denying transfers by seniority workers laid off at Lordstown. What does that portend for the future? (p. 327)

Under the new contract, should it be ratified, GM will be more firmly in control over a stratified workforce on the shop floor, with a union leadership more firmly controlled by management, and no restrictions against future plant “un-allocations.”

GM workers who’ve endured five weeks on picket lines and want to vote “no” must be prepared to take on the IUAW, which was satisfied to present a deeply flawed agreement. These are difficult decisions, but there’s a lot at stake.

Page numbers refer to 2019 UAW-GM Whitebook

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Frank Hammer is a member of the Real News Network Board of Directors, and has been a social justice activist for nearly 50 years. He spent the last 40 years in the labor movement as an autoworker and a member, elected officer, staff representative, and now retiree of the United Auto Workers. Frank was the former president of the Greenacres Woodward Civic Association in Detroit, and he currently represents the association as a member of the Michigan State Fairgrounds Advisory Committee. He is a lecturer in the Labor Studies Programs at Wayne State and Indiana Universities. He’s a board member of the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights, an activist with South East Michigan Jobs with Justice, the School of the Americas Watch (SOAW-UAW), and the Autoworker Caravan.