October 17, 2019 / 4:14 PM / 6 months ago

UAW leaders meet to review tentative deal with GM to end strike

DETROIT, Oct 17 (Reuters) - The leadership of the United Auto Workers was meeting on Thursday to review terms of the union's tentative deal with General Motors Co to end a crippling month-long strike at the No. 1 U.S. automaker.

The national council, representing GM plants across the United States, was reviewing terms of the four-year deal. It was then expected to forward the agreement to GM's 48,000 striking workers for final ratification.

It was not immediately clear whether the workers would end their strike at that point or stay on the picket lines while the voting occurs; a process that could last up to two weeks.

The strike began on Sept. 16, with UAW negotiators seeking higher pay for workers, greater job security, a bigger share of profit and protection of healthcare benefits. Other issues included the fate of plants GM has indicated it may close, and the use of temporary workers.

The longest nationwide strike against a Detroit automaker since 1970 became a political event. Democratic presidential candidates joined UAW picket lines, eager to win union votes in Midwest swing states. For his part, U.S. President Donald Trump put pressure on GM Chief Executive Mary Barra before the strike to preserve jobs at a car plant in Lordstown, Ohio, that she had targeted for closure.

The strike cost GM an estimated $2 billion according to analysts, hurt auto suppliers and played a role in U.S. manufacturing output falling more than expected in September.

Sources have previously said the deal includes plans to invest $9 billion in GM's U.S. plants, and provides pay raises and a path to full time employment for temporary workers. It also includes a ratification bonus of $11,000 and a commitment to create or retain 9,000 UAW jobs, a substantial portion of which will be new jobs, the sources said.

The agreement includes 3% pay raises in the second and fourth year of the four-year-contract and 3% and 4% lump sum payments in the first and fourth year respectively, the sources said. GM also agreed to make temporary workers with three years of service permanent, the sources said.

Under the agreement, GM is expected to invest money in a battery facility near the Lordstown plant that it has said it was in talks to sell to start-up electric truck manufacturer Workhouse Group Inc, the sources said.

GM has also agreed to produce a future new electric truck and other vehicles at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant that was set to end operations in early 2020, the sources said.

As part of the deal, GM will win the right to end assembly operations at Lordstown and permanently close two other parts plants in Baltimore and Warren, Michigan, the sources said.

Workers from Lordstown were outside GM's Detroit headquarters, where UAW leaders were meeting, to protest the planned agreement.

If the deal is approved by workers, the union will next begin negotiations with Ford Motor Co or Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV , covering many of the same issues. The UAW previously agreed to temporary contract extensions with both automakers while it focused on GM.

A successful ratification is not a sure thing as workers during the 2015 talks initially rejected a deal with Fiat Chrysler before eventually approving a revised offer.

This year's talks have been overshadowed by a widening federal investigation into corruption at the union, although officials and workers said they focused strictly on the negotiations. (Reporting by Paul Lienert and Joseph White in Detroit, additional reporting by David Shepardson and Ben Klayman in Washington; Editing by Tom Brown)

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