First look at deal that could get nearly 50,000 GM employees back to work

The tentative agreement between United Auto Workers and General Motors is a win for temporary workers and will put a big ratification bonus in workers' bank accounts, but the company's confirmation that three U.S. plants will stay closed could spell trouble.

FOX Business obtained a copy of the agreement on Thursday before the outcome of union leaders' vote on it was known. The agreement would apply to GM's hourly workers.

Many workers who are dismayed at the thought of GM closing more plants will be disappointed that the agreement does not include reopening the Lordstown assembly plant in Ohio.

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GM's Lordstown, Warren and Baltimore plants would go unallocated, per GM's original plan, while the Detroit-Hamtramck plant in Michigan, which was also going to be idled, would stay open and make electric trucks.

The future of temporary workers was a major sticking point — the agreement would provide full-time temporary workers with a pathway to permanent employment starting on Jan. 6, 2020. Part-time temporary employees would have a pathway to regular status beginning Jan. 1, 2021.

GM also caved following workers' anger at being asked to share a larger portion of health insurance costs.

Picketing United Auto Workers Richard Rivera, left, and Robin Pinkney react to news of a tentative contract agreement with General Motors, in Langhorne, Pa., Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

GM autoworkers are responsible for an extremely low cut of their health insurance costs — 3%. GM wanted to up that share to 15%, which is basically half the amount the average American worker pays, but GM hourly employees were not having it.

The deal also includes:

  • An $11,000 ratification bonus for senior employees and $4,500 bonus for temporary employees.
  • Elimination of the $12,000 cap on profit-sharing payouts.
  • A promise to bring all permanent manufacturing employees to $32.32 an hour by September 2023.

Local UAW chapter leaders and the UAW GM National Council are expected to vote on the tentative agreement on Thursday. If they approve the deal, it will be up to rank-and-file members to ratify it. UAW members are remaining on strike as they await the results of Thursday's vote.

Long-time GM autoworker Mike Yakim told FOX Business his gut reaction was to vote against the tentative agreement. As a former temporary worker, he was happy to see them get a good deal, but he said he needed evidence GM was going to invest in the U.S. before he was on board.

"I'm still all in favor of temporaries on the path to accrue seniority. That's great, but number one is product allocation. Without number one, you don’t need number two," Yakim said.

He's moved twice for his job with GM — once from Maryland to Ohio to work at the Lordstown plant, and from Ohio to Michigan when Lordstown shuttered. He now works at the Lansing Delta Township plant.


Yakim said he received multiple texts from friends he used to work at Lordstown with expressing unhappiness with the tentative agreement on Thursday.

GM said Thursday that it will take part in creating manufacturing jobs in Ohio, although that's not part of the tentative agreement.

FOX Business' Grady Trimble contributed to this report.