UAW approves GM contract

Mary Barra in 83 Seconds
Mary Barra in 83 Seconds

The United Auto Workers union has given the final OK to a new four-year contract with General Motors.

About 55% of the 52,600 union workers at General Motors had voted in favor of the deal earlier this month. But final approval was then held up because 60% of the skilled trades workers, such as electricians and welders, voted against it.

UAW leaders have been meeting with the holdouts since then, and on Friday the leaders said they had decided to declare the contract ratified -- a move that is allowed under the union's rues. The UAW did the same thing after a similar split at Chrysler in 2011.

Among other things, the skilled workers were unhappy with the contract because they wouldn't be eligible for a $60,000 retirement buyout that's being offered to 4,000 production line workers.

Their concerns were eventually addressed in discussions with GM and changes were made to the final contract on Friday. The UAW and GM agreed to protect job classifications and seniority-related rights.

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GM said it was pleased the UAW ratified the agreement because it was good for both workers and the company.

"We will continue to work with our UAW partners to implement the agreement, and engage our employees in improving the business and building great vehicles for our customers."

In October, the UAW won ratification of a new contract with Fiat Chrysler (FCAM) on a second try. And union officials and Ford Motor (F) have reached a tentative agreement that still needs to be ratified by membership.

The UAW has had the advantage of negotiating at a time of strong car sales and profits. The industry is set to post record U.S. car sales in 2015.

General Motors (GM) recently reported a record operating profit in the third quarter, despite continued costs from its recall problems.

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The GM deal gives veteran autoworkers their first raise in a decade. It includes a signing bonus, profit sharing plan, and other lump-sum payments likely to add up to tens of thousands of dollars for each worker over four years.

The deal also would, over eight years, close a pay gap between veteran workers and those hired since 2007, who were paid at a significantly lower pay scale.

The GM deal is more generous than the one that the UAW recently negotiated at Fiat Chrysler, but not quite as generous as the deal at Ford.

UAW members at Ford started voting Thursday on their tentative contract. The voting will continue through next week.

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CNNMoney's Ahiza Garcia contributed to this report.

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