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GM and UAW reach tentative deal that could end strike

UAW workers striking in Flint.
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

The United Auto Workers and General Motors have reached a tentative contract agreement that could end a month-long strike that brought the automaker's U.S. factories to a standstill.

The deal was hammered out Wednesday but it won't immediately end the strike by the nearly 49,000 workers. They're likely to stay on the picket lines at least a few more days until union committees vote on the deal. The entire membership also must vote.

“The number one priority of the national negotiation team has been to secure a strong and fair contract that our members deserve,” UAW Vice President Terry Dittes, Director of the UAW GM Department, said in a statement.

Chad Fox is a member of UAW Local 167 in West Michigan. He says he wants to go back to work.

“But until they get down there, until all the presidents and chairs get there and know what it is, if it’s even worth bringing back to us, I’m hopeful but I’m not going to get too excited,” Fox says.

Details of the four-year agreement have yet to be released, but it's expected they will come out on Thursday. In a statement from the UAW, the union noted that "out of respect for our members, we will refrain from commenting on the details until the UAW GM leaders gather together and receive all details." 

Marsha Easley has been a UAW member for more than 30 years. She wants to see what’s in the agreement.

“We’ve been going too many years giving up things and not getting anything back,” she says.

Workers left their jobs early on Sept. 16. They wanted a bigger share of GM's profits, job security, and a path to permanent jobs for temporary workers.

“The dignity, grace, and solidarity demonstrated by our members during the last few weeks are prime examples of what this union is all about — supporting one another in the good and bad times and never giving up,” said UAW President Gary Jones in the statement. “Our more than 48,000 members standing their ground have captured the hearts and minds of people across this country. I could not be prouder of our brothers and sisters, our National Negotiators, and the National Council as they continue to fight one day longer to secure the best deal for our members."

UAW members walking the picket lines in Flint say they are hopeful the deal is a good one for workers.

This is the longest strike Marlow Washington has gone through in his 19 years with the UAW.

“Most of us are ready to come back to work, but only under the conditions of a fair agreement,” Washington says.

The company wanted to reduce labor costs so they're closer to U.S. factories run by foreign automakers.

This post was updated at 5:52 p.m. on Oct. 16, 2019.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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