GM’s latest offer to UAW ups investments to $9 billion

By Kalea Hall - The Detroit News

DETROIT — General Motors Co.’s latest offer to the striking United Auto Workers included $2 billion more investment by the company than an offer it made and publicly released details of on Sept. 15.

In total, GM would commit to $9 billion worth of direct and indirect investment. Of that, $7.7 billion of that would be direct investments, including building an electric truck at the Detroit Hamtramck Assembly plant. The plant is among four GM facilities in the U.S. that were to be idled.

The has yet to respond to the company’s offer that was made on Monday. That offer also includes increases in employee compensation, retained health care coverage and created of a pathway for temporary employees to become permanent, according to a letter GM sent Friday morning to hourly and salaried employees.

The UAW responded with a strong statement that said at every step in negotiations GM “has attempted to undermine the ongoing, good-faith efforts the UAW has made to end this strike.”

“The company’s strategy from day one has been to play games at the expense of the workers. It has released half-truths, ripped away health care in the middle of the night and it reverted to previously weak and unacceptable proposals in response to the UAW’s comprehensive solutions. Our members are ready to get back to work, but GM is purposefully stalling the process to starve UAW-GM workers off the picket lines to protect millions of dollars of corporate bonuses.”

The union later released a video in which UAW Vice President Terry Dittes said: “Let me be clear that the company’s strategy of releasing half-truths does nothing to reach a final settlement for you and your families. We in this union believe in the sacred process of negotiations at the bargaining table and not in the media. Brothers and sisters, we in this union, all of us, need to last one day longer in solidarity.”

In response to the UAW’s criticism, Tony Cervone, senior vice president, global communications for GM, said in a statement Friday afternoon: “The goal of our communication has been to inform — not incite. We will continue to provide information in a straightforward, and importantly, factual way.”

The letter sent to workers from Gerald Johnson, GM’s executive vice president of global manufacturing, did not spell out what the wage and lump-sum increases might be. It would also enhance the profit-sharing formula. Currently for every billion made in North America, GM UAW employees get $1,000.

“We have advised the union that it’s critical that we get back to producing quality vehicles for our customers,” Johnson wrote. “We are committed to the collective bargaining process, and we are committed to our future together.”

GM bargainers have urged the union to engage in around-the-clock bargaining on all issues to get an agreement done as 46,000 GM employees head out to picket lines for the 26th day on Friday.

In a letter sent Thursday night to Dittes, GM Vice President of Labor Relations Scott Sandefur said the company expected a response that day to the offer it made at the beginning of the week.

The letter said GM CEO Mary Barra had “emphasized the need to get a comprehensive response from the union as soon as possible” in a Wednesday meeting, which Barra, Dittes, Johnson and UAW President Gary Jones attended. The meeting was an attempt to jump-start negotiations after talks between the automaker and the union had stalled.

The response from GM was directed at a letter sent earlier in the evening by Dittes stating that the union agreed to have committees work on issues until they can submit a comprehensive proposal. Committees include the training center and the future of work.

But GM objects “to having bargaining placed on hold” until issues are resolved in those areas, Sandefur wrote. “As we have urged repeatedly, we should engage in bargaining over all issues around-the-clock to get an agreement. Your members and our employees’ lives are being disrupted, and they deserve our commitment to getting any remaining issues resolved as quickly as possible.”

By Kalea Hall

The Detroit News

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