GM, UAW reach deal

@CNNMoney September 17, 2011: 12:17 PM ET
The new GM-UAW labor agreement covers 48,500 U.S. workers at the nation's No. 1 automaker.

The new GM-UAW labor agreement covers 48,500 U.S. workers at the nation's No. 1 automaker.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- General Motors and the United Auto Workers union reached a tentative agreement on a new labor deal late Friday, the first since the federal bailout and bankruptcy at the company two years ago.

The agreement was reached just after 11 p.m. Friday. It covers about 48,500 UAW members at the nation's largest automaker.

It includes guarantees of "significant investments and products for our plants," according to a statement by UAW President Bob King. That new investment will result in a rehiring of an undisclosed number of workers who lost their jobs during recent downsizings. Guarantees on products and investment was the union's major goal in these talks.

The contract also includes improved profit sharing payments for members, the main goal of all three automakers, that will mean a greater part of pay and benefit packages will be tied to the performance of the company.

King said the profit sharing improvement was a big win for his members.

"When GM was struggling, our members shared in the sacrifice. Now that the company is posting profits again, our members want to share in the success," he said.

GM said the new contract will allow it to be competitive by pegging compensation to company performance and demand. Most experts expected the automakers, which all posted operating profits this year for the first time since 2004, to win a deal that will allow them to stay in the black, even with modest U.S. auto sales.

"We worked hard for a contract that recognizes the realities of today's marketplace, enabling GM to continue to invest in U.S. manufacturing and provide good jobs to thousands of Americans," said a statement from Cathy Clegg, GM vice president, Labor Relations.

But other details about the contract, including any changes in base pay or in the two-tier wage system now in place at the company, were not announced. The union will now present the agreement to rank-and-file members, whose ratification is needed for it to go into effect.

The union had sought to improve the pay of entry-level employees, who are now paid between $14 and $17 an hour. That compares to the $28 and $38 an hour veteran UAW members can earn at the Big Three.

The contracts between the UAW and GM, Ford Motor (F, Fortune 500) and Chrysler Group had been due to expire at 11:59 p.m. on September 14. The union granted Ford an extension in advance of the deadline, as it concentrated on reaching a deal with GM and Chrysler. The union is expected to seek a slightly better contract agreement from Ford, the only U.S. automaker that didn't need a bailout or bankruptcy protection.

When it couldn't reach a deal by the Wednesday night deadline, the union granted an indefinite extension to the other two automakers as well.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne was unhappy with his company taking a backseat to GM in the talks, writing an angry letter to King complaining that the two had been unable to meet before the contract expiration. Talks between the top officials at Chrysler and the union are expected to resume early this week when Marchionne returns to the United States. He is also CEO of Italian automaker Fiat, which owns a majority stake in Chrysler. To top of page

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