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GM gives back to workers in new labor contract with UAW

With the UAW’s contracts with the Big Three automakers already expired and operating under an extension, it appears that General Motors will be the first to strike a new deal that gives back some of the concessions workers made to help the company survive bankruptcy in 2009.

General Motors Co. will give its hourly workers a $5,000 signing bonus, if they approve a tentative contract agreement reached by the company and the United Auto Workers union Friday night, people familiar with the pact said Saturday.

Under the agreement, GM also has agreed to reopen its Spring Hill, Tenn. plant; base profit-sharing checks on North American profits, rather than on U.S. earnings; and give entry-level workers a $2-$3 an hour increase. Those so-called tier two employees, who are paid $14-$16 an hour, will be boosted to $16-$19 an hour.

Also, a person briefed on the deal said Saturday, the proposed contract includes buyout offers to GM’s skilled trade workers. The Detroit automaker has about 1,000 skilled tradesmen working on the line, rather than in skilled trades positions that it no longer needs. GM hopes to pare back the number of skilled trades workers on assembly lines. The tentative pact still must be approved by a vote of the union’s rank and file.

Ford and Chrysler are also in active negotiations with the auto worker’s union.

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