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UAW Local at Key GM Plant Ratifies Contract

October 3, 2007
UAW workers have ratified the newly negotiated contract with General Motors at the first big assembly plant to vote on the proposal.

Hourly employees at GM's Lansing Grand River plant late Tuesday, Octopber 2, approved the agreement by a wide margin, said Chris "Tiny" Sherwood, president of UAW Local 652 in Lansing. The local represents about 2,700 active workers at the Cadillac plant. The plant builds sedans and the Cadillac SRX crossover.

Sherwood declined to disclose an exact count. He says that the local did not want to influence votes at the other GM factories. The UAW leadership has given the locals until October 10, to have their votes.

The approval at such a large plant is a strong sign that the concessionary contract is headed for ratification. The UAW negotiated the accord on behalf of about 73,000 active workers and four times that number of retirees.

It includes plans for a new health care trust that will move about $50 billion worth of GM retiree health care liabilities under the control of the UAW. By 2010, GM would pay about $35 billion in cash and GM stock to support the trust known as a voluntary employee beneficiary association.

The contract also includes for the first time provisions for a lower new-hire wage and benefit package targeted at allowing GM to use new hires for many more nonproduction factory jobs, such as materials handling, janitorial and subassembly.

In return, the UAW received GM commitments to build future vehicles in most assembly plants.

Filed by David Barkholz of Automotive News, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.