UAW Local 5960 member Kinethia Black fills the brakes of a 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV during vehicle production on Thursday, May 6, 2021 at the General Motors Orion Assembly Plant in Orion Township, Michigan.
Photo by Steve Fecht for Chevrolet
DETROIT – General Motors on Thursday offered its largest four-year wage increase in decades as part of a new contract proposal to the United Auto Workers, as the automaker attempts to avoid another costly strike by its unionized workforce.
The UAW’s president, however, called the offer “insulting.”
The wage increase for most of GM’s roughly 46,000 UAW-represented workers would be 10%, while newer, or in-progression, employees would be eligible for up to a 56% increase in wages over the four years of the deal, the company announced Thursday after meeting with union leaders and negotiators. Temporary workers, who supplement full-time employees, would also receive 20% wage increases to roughly $20 an hour.
Under the current pay structure, UAW members start at about $18 an hour and have a “grow-in” period of four years to reach a top wage of more than $32 an hour.
GM’s proposed contract also includes two additional 3% lump-sum payments resulting in a total wage increase of 16%; $5,500 ratification bonus; $6,000 one-time inflation-recognition payment; and $5,000 in inflation-protection bonuses over the life of the agreement, which in-progression employees are eligible to receive.
Despite the proposed wage increase being the largest under a UAW contract since 1999, it still falls far short of the union’s demands of a 40% hourly pay increase, a reduced 32-hour workweek, a shift back to traditional pensions, elimination of compensation tiers, and restoration of cost-of-living adjustments, among other items on the table.
UAW President Shawn Fain was not impressed by GM’s offer, calling it “an insulting proposal that doesn’t come close to an equitable agreement for America’s autoworkers.”
“GM either doesn’t care or isn’t listening when we say we need economic justice at GM by 11:59pm on September 14th. The clock is ticking. Stop wasting our members’ time. Tick tock,” Fain said in an emailed statement.
The proposal from General Motors comes a week after the union filed unfair labor practice charges against GM and Stellantis to the National Labor Relations Board for allegedly not bargaining in good faith or a timely manner.
Contracts for roughly 150,000 auto workers with GM and crosstown rivals Ford Motor and Stellantis expire after 11:59 p.m. Sept. 14.
A 40-day strike against GM during the last round of negotiations in 2019 led to a production loss of 300,000 vehicles, the company said at the time. It also cost the automaker $3.6 billion in earnings, GM said.
Fain has said a strike isn’t the goal, but the sides remain far apart when it comes to key demands.
GM released details of its contract proposal ahead of the UAW doing so, breaking pattern with Ford and Stellantis, which waited until the union did so. It likely did so to get ahead of any comments regarding the deal by Fain, who condemned previous offers from Ford and Stellantis during Facebook Live events.