GM deal with UAW includes closing three US plants, $11,000 'ratification' bonuses

 cnbc.com  10/17/2019 16:54:23  2  Michael Wayland
United Auto Workers members on strike picket outside General Motors' Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant on Sept. 25, 2019 in Detroit.

DETROIT  The United Auto Workers' proposed tentative deal with General Motors includes the closure of three U.S. plants, including a large assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, according to the union.

The plants, including two powertrain operations in Michigan and Maryland, had been earmarked in November to end production this year, but the Detroit automaker had to negotiate the closures as part of contract negotiations with the union. A parts distribution facility for GM in Fontana, California, also would close under the four-year deal.

A fourth plant in Detroit that was also slated for closure, as previously reported by CNBC, will be spared to build a new all-electric pickup for the automaker, if the deal is ratified. The assembly plant is still slated to end production of the Cadillac CT6 and Chevrolet Impala by January.

A timeframe for production of the pickup and the complete closures of the other U.S. facilities was not disclosed by the union, however the three plants were already idled by the automaker earlier this year. GM declined to comment.

GM, in a statement, said it remains "committed to future investment and job growth" in Ohio. The company told the union it would bring battery cell production to Mahoning Valley, a region that includes Lordstown in Ohio.

The plans, according to GM, would create about 1,000 manufacturing jobs, and include the sale of Lordstown to Lordstown Motors Corp., a new company that plans to build electric pickups for commercial fleet customers. That company plans to initially create 400 jobs, GM said.

The sale of the plant and battery cell production, according to the company, are not covered under the proposed tentative agreement.

GM, according to a person familiar with the negotiations, is expected to invest $9 billion in manufacturing operations as part of the deal, including the battery cell production. About $7.7 billion of that would be "direct" investment in current U.S. plants.

The UAW did not disclose the total expected investment in its summary of the deal that was released Thursday.

The agreement would also pay most union members an $11,000 "ratification" bonus once the contract is signed. Temporary workers, who have a shortened path to becoming permanent employees as part of the deal, would receive $4,500 ratification bonuses.

Local union leaders and UAW members still must approve the deal, which could end the union's 32-day strike against the company. About 200 local union leaders are meeting in Detroit on Thursday to vote on the proposed deal as well as decide whether workers will return to work during an expected weekslong voting process for members.

Shares of GM on Thursday closed down 1.3% at $36.19, after opening at $36.81. The stock, which had fallen by double digits during the strike, is currently down by about 7% since Sept.13  the last trading day before workers started picketing.

Other details of the deal, according to a summary from the union, include 3% wage increases in the second and fourth years and 4% lump sum bonuses in the first and third years for eligible permanent manufacturing employees.

The deal also includes all workers achieving top pay of more than $32 an hour within the next four years, down from an eight-year period as part of a previous deal in 2015.

UAW members also would maintain their health insurance, which is considered "gold standard" and requires employees to cover roughly 3% of the total costs, according to one person familiar with the talks.

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