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GM and UAW negotiating the future of lower-paid workers

Posted at 5:39 PM, Sep 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-25 05:26:46-04

(WXYZ) — In day 9 of the strike at General Motors negotiations continue to focus on the future of lower-paid workers with the United Auto Workers Union.

Some of those workers are part of a Competitive Operating Agreement at Orion Assembly. That agreement allows a 60-40 split, 60% traditional workers making about $30 an hour and 40% workers making about half that.

That deal included tax incentives that GM said it needed to remain competitive after bankruptcy a decade ago.

Orion Assembly makes the all-electric Chevy Bolt, Chevy Cruise autonomous test vehicle and the Chevy Sonic small car. That deal is what union officials call whipsawing because different local unions and locations compete for the jobs.

“I’ll say pit 3 plants against each other, Janesville, Wisconsin, Spring Hill (Tennessee) and Orion to see who would give the best offer and who could offer the most to keep that plant open,” says Gerald Lang, UAW Local 5960 Vice President.

Orion got the deal.

“Do you call it a win? I’m not sure,” says Lang. 750 UAW members work at Orion Assembly.

GM has offered to build batteries for all-electric vehicles near a now-closed plant in Lordstown, Ohio and an all-electric truck at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant that is set to close in January.

It is not known outside of the closed contact talks how many jobs that would provide and at what pay level.

“We have been told if we don’t fight now, we may not live to fight another day,” says UAW Local 5960 President Louis Rocha.