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GM, Ford share profits with UAW before contract talks start

General Motors factory workers will get a record amount in profit-sharing checks this year.  The automaker's 48,000 UAW hourly workers will get at least $4,000.  That's more than twice the company's previous record for hourly worker profit-sharing  - $1,775 in 1999.

 But GM says the bonus isn’t more than what the profit-sharing plan calls for.  Mike Green is President of Local 652 in Lansing.  He says GM workers are happy about the money.  But it doesn’t make up for all the wage and benefit cuts people took in recent years.  Union leaders estimate those give-back at $7,000 to $30,000 per worker.

"Give us our stuff back, the concessions that we’ve taken," says Green. "Now that things are back on track, we should get back on track."

On the other hand, Ford is giving union workers $5,000 checks even though it was contractually obligated to pay only about $3,000.  

Ford is the only Detroit automaker vulnerable to a strike if contract talks this summer break down.  GM and Chrysler got no-strike provisions as part of their bankruptcies. 

It’s expected the UAW will start contract talks with Ford first this year.

Chrysler gave out "performance awards" of $750, even though the company lost money last year.  CEO Sergio Marchionne says it would have been unconscionable not to reward workers for their efforts to remake Chrysler.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.