UAW members overwhelmingly vote two-to-one to ratify contract with GM

(WXYZ) - A two-to-one majority of the UAW members voted Wednesday to ratify a collective bargaining agreement with General Motors.

65 per cent of the rank and file approved the new deal, while 63 per cent of the skilled trades workers approved the agreement.

"The UAW and GM entered into this set of bargaining as America struggles with record levels of unemployment and an economy that shows little sign of improvement," said UAW President Bob King.

"With the continued support and solidarity of our members at GM, we stood strong and not only stopped these proposed givebacks, but we made important gains for our members in this contract," King added.

Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson told financial analysts in a conference call this afternoon "This agreement is a win-win." Akerson praised the contract for "preserving our break-even point'.

As a result of the 6,400 new jobs, suppliers and other businesses related to the auto industry will see another 57,600 new jobs.

GM's entry-level workers will see their pay increase to $19.28 over the term of the agreement and all employees will receive a $5,000 signing bonus.

"When it seems like everyone in America is getting cuts in benefits and paying higher co-pays and deductibles, we were able to maintain and improve on our current benefits," said UAW Vice President Joe Ashton.

The new four-year contract is effective immediately and covers more than 48,000 active workers at GM.

The ratification also clears the way for a settlement at Ford where high level negotiations are on-going. Historically, the other automakers are unlikely to do anything to upset another company's ratification process. Ford is expected to have a higher signing bonus than the one at General Motors. Any announcement could have  rankled the GM workers. Now that the GM deal is final, Ford may settle in the coming days.

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