DETROIT (Sept. 26) — The United Auto Workers and General Motors Corp. early Sept. 26 announced a tentative contract agreement two days after the union launched its first national strike against GM in 37 years.
The four-year deal includes a comprehensive health care trust fund for UAW retirees and broad job guarantees for UAW workers in the U.S.
UAW President Ron Gettelfinger called an end to the strike that brought more than 80 GM manufacturing operations in North America and Canada to a halt.
The UAW has not yet indicated whether Ford Motor Co. or Chrysler L.L.C. would be next up for contract negotiations.
The UAW´s national contracts expired at midnight Sept. 14, a day after the UAW named GM its first target for negotiations. It struck GM at 11 a.m. Sept. 24.
"I believe the strike was beneficial in bringing a quick end to the negotiations," Gettelfinger said after a 4 a.m. news conference Sept. 26 at UAW headquarters in Detroit.
The deal remains subject to a ratification vote by the UAW rank-and-file.
In its statement, GM said the agreement also is subject to approval by the courts, and a review of accounting issues by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. A mid-contract agreement on health care coverage two years ago also was subject to approval in federal court.
Neither the UAW nor GM released details about the agreement.
Gettelfinger said the health care trust would be strong enough to remain solvent for at least 80 years. The trust will take more than $50 billion in long-term liabilities off GM´s balance sheet. It was not yet clear how much money GM will put into the fund to start it out.
Goodyear started a VEBA as part of the contract with the United Steelworkers that ended last year´s 86-day strike.
The agreement also includes job guarantees and new investment in products for U.S. plants.
"There´s no question this was one of the most complex and difficult bargaining sessions in the history of the GM/UAW relationship," GM CEO Rick Wagoner said in a prepared statement. "This agreement helps us close the fundamental competitive gaps that exist in our business. The projected competitive improvements in this agreement will allow us to maintain a strong manufacturing presence in the United States along with significant future investments."