American labor is in tough position these days, as it their employers, as changes come to auto manufacturing …
Bargainers for General Motors and the United Auto Workers reached a tentative contract deal Wednesday that could end a monthlong strike that brought the company’s U.S. factories to a standstill.
The deal was hammered out after months of bargaining but won’t bring an immediate end to the strike by 49,000 hourly workers. They will likely stay on the picket lines for at least two more days as two union committees vote on the deal, after which the members will have to approve.
Terms of the tentative four-year contract were not released, but it’s likely to include some pay raises, lump sum payments to workers and requirements that GM build new vehicles in U.S. factories. Early on, GM offered new products in Detroit and Lordstown, Ohio, two of the four U.S. cities where it planned to close factories.
The company offered to build a new electric pickup truck to keep the Detroit-Hamtramck plant open and to build an electric vehicle battery factory in or near Lordstown, where GM is closing an assembly plant. The battery factory would employ far fewer workers and pay less money than the assembly plant.
GM and the union have been negotiating at a time of troubling uncertainty for the U.S. auto industry. Driven up by the longest economic expansion in American history, auto sales appear to have peaked and are now heading in the other direction. GM and other carmakers are also struggling to make the transition to electric and autonomous vehicles.
Meanwhile, President Trump’s trade war with China and his tariffs on imported steel and aluminum have raised costs for auto companies. A revamped North American free trade deal is stalled in Congress, raising doubts about the future of America’s trade in autos and auto parts with Canada and Mexico, which last year came to $257 billion…..