DETROIT – The United Auto Workers (UAW) union is firing back after a letter from General Motors to its employees was released to the public Friday morning.
GM sent a letter to all hourly and salaried employees Friday morning that explained a new offer that was presented to union officials on Monday. In the letter, Gerald Johnson, executive vice president at GM, called finalizing a deal with the union "critical" as the strike is in its fourth week.
"On Monday, we presented another offer we felt achieved our mutual objectives," reads part of the letter. "It would increase compensation through wages and lump sum payments, preserve industry-leading health care benefits without increasing out-of-pocket costs, enhance profit-sharing with unlimited upside, and improve the ratification bonus. For temporary workers, our offer also would create a clear path to permanent employment and include a ratification bonus."
The union responded with a statement calling for GM to "stop playing games at the expense of workers." Here's the full UAW statement released Friday:
Since the beginning of this negotiation, GM has not taken the issue of our more than 48,000 members seriously. In fact, at every step of the way, GM has attempted to undermine the ongoing, good-faith efforts the UAW has made to end this strike.
The company's strategy from day one has been to play games at the expense of the workers. It has released half-truths, ripped away health care in the middle of the night and it reverted to previously weak and unacceptable proposals in response to the UAW's comprehensive solutions.
Our members are ready to get back to work, but GM is purposefully stalling the process to starve UAW-GM workers off the picket lines to protect millions of dollars of corporate bonuses.
These delaying tactics have human costs. Families are suffering, from Detroit to Texas to New York. This strike has been and continues to be about securing the American workers' future.
The UAW continues to stay at the table night and day to get a good deal for our workers and to end this strike. We demand fair, middle class wages, quality benefits, a better pathway for temporary workers and job security.
Our workers are behind us in this fight for a strong deal:
- Brian Kennedy – Aurora, CO: "We're all out here doing our duty," says Brian Kennedy, a spokesman for UAW Local 431. "We're in support of our leadership; we know that they're going to do the right thing. GM upper management is doing more damage to their public perception than they would really want." … "The better unions do, the better everybody does. The rising tide lifts all boats."
- Ben Wells – Lake Orion, MI: "When I started, I made fourteen dollars and twelve cents an hour," said Ben Wells. "I worked directly across the line from a woman who made twenty-eight dollars. We did the exact same job—and she had a full pension."
- Teddy Maldonado – Buffalo, NY: "I'm thankful during this time that I can depend on my UAW brothers and sisters. When GM cut our health care coverage, the UAW stepped up to provide medical assistance. That's what it means to have our back. If you know a UAW worker or their family, it's time to support one another. Whether they are your neighbor, your friend or your family member, now is the time to stand together and support them as they fight for their fair share."
It was our members and the American taxpayer who made their own sacrifices to protect this company in its darkest days. It's time GM stops playing games and starts believing in and investing in the future of our members.
The strike began on Sept. 15 and by the next day nearly 50,000 union members had stopped reporting to work. The strike has resulted in the shutting down of 33 manufacturing plants and 22 part distribution facilities nationwide.
The union has been bargaining for better wages, healthcare, better career paths for temporary workers and what it calls a better commitment from GM to build its vehicles in America.
UAW-GM Vice President Terry Ditttes also released this statement on Friday:
Brothers and Sisters,
I understand GM sent everyone a letter this morning. However, I'm not here to talk about what is in that letter.
We are here to fight for you and make sure we are prepared for the changes that are coming to our industry. Those are not yet guaranteed. We are here to fight for good wages, and for years of past sacrifice, but those are not yet guaranteed.
We are here to fight for our temporary members to ensure they have a path to seniority, but that is not yet guaranteed. I want to ensure you that despite that letter your bargaining team has been here around the clock to get you the contract you deserve.
The UAW continues to stay at the table night and day to get a good agreement for our members and to end this strike.
We demand fair, middle class wages, quality benefits and a better pathway for temporary workers and job security.
Let me be clear that the company's strategy of releasing half-truths does nothing to reach a final settlement for you and your families. We in this union believe in the sacred process of negotiations at the bargaining table and not in the media.
Brothers and sisters, we in this union, all of us, need to last one day longer in solidarity.
The back-and-forth continued Friday with a statement from Tony Cervone, senior vice president at GM:
"The goal of our communication has been to inform, not incite. We will continue to provide information in a straightforward, and importantly, factual way."
Barra meets with UAW officials
GM CEO Mary Barra requested UAW committees resolve their issues and provide a "comprehensive proposal" during a meeting Wednesday, according to Ditttes.
"During this meeting, GM CEO Mary Barra requested all committees work to resolve their open issues simultaneously so the company could receive a comprehensive proposal from the union. We agreed with that request and those open committees have been meeting since then and are yet to be concluded," reads the letter.
Dittes said the committees are:
- Statement on Technologies Progress
- Future of Work
- Document 13
- CHR Resolution and UAW Legal Services
Earlier this week, the UAW informed membership that one of the key issues was a lack of commitment by GM to build vehicles at U.S. factories.
"We have openly told GM that we do not see a solid commitment to this talented and skilled workforce that has made them billions of dollars in profits," reads a letter from Dittes. "We have made it clear that there is no job security for us when GM products are made in other countries for the purpose of selling them here in the U.S.A. We believe that the vehicles GM sells here should be built here. We don't understand GM's opposition to this proposition."
The letter notes that the issue of job security is a top agenda item and there has been little progress to report.
Talks are expected to continue Friday.