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DETROIT -- General Motors has agreed to continue production at a Detroit plant it had planned to shut down, but will not resume operations at three others recently idled, the United Auto Workers union said Thursday in announcing the terms of a tentative contract agreement.

The details were released as leaders of the union's GM locals gathered in Detroit to learn and consider the terms. If they accept the tentative agreement, they could call an immediate end to a monthlong strike. Union leaders voted Thursday to continue the walkout until the deal is ratified by a majority of the 49,000 UAW members employed by GM.

According to a summary posted online by the union, the deal includes wage increases and a formula for allowing temporary workers to become full-time employees.

It would also keep open the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which GM had said it would close. It does not reverse plans for three other plants where production has ceased, including one in Lordstown, Ohio, but provides retirement incentives for workers displaced there.

When it announced the tentative accord Wednesday, the UAW said it had "achieved major wins." According to the online summary, the agreement has these provisions:

• A 3% wage increase in the second and fourth years of the contract, and a 4% lump-sum payment in the first and third years.

• A shortened path to permanent status for full-time temporary workers, beginning next year, and a path for part-time temporary employees to convert to regular status, starting in 2021.

• No change to the health care plan, and no additional costs.

• An $11,000 ratification bonus for "seniority employees," and a $4,500 bonus for temporary employees.

• The elimination of a $12,000 cap on profit-sharing payouts.

Ratification of the agreement is not a foregone conclusion. The last time the UAW negotiated a contract with GM, approval was delayed for a month in part because the automaker's skilled-trades workers rejected the terms.

A rejection of the proposed contract would be a rebuke for the UAW president, Gary Jones, and his negotiating team.

"If the rank-and-file vote down an agreement their leaders send them, they also are voting down the leaders," said Erik Gordon, a business professor at the University of Michigan who follows the auto industry. "Workers may ask whether it was worth being out of work a month to get a deal that could be close to what they would have gotten with no strike and no loss of pay."

There were signs of dissent from union members outside the Renaissance Center office complex, where GM is headquartered and the contract negotiations took place. As the roughly 200 union officials who will vote on the proposed contract arrived for the meeting, they were greeted by about 30 workers from the Lordstown plant in red T-shirts shouting, "Vote no!"

"If we don't have product in Lordstown, we want them to vote no on this contract," said Anthony Naples, a father of five who worked for 25 years at the Lordstown plant. "Now our jobs are going away. They have to figure out a way to get product in the U.S."

One of the union's main objectives was getting GM to reopen the car factory in Lordstown, a goal that President Donald Trump endorsed. But there is no indication that the matter was ever on the table in the contract talks. GM idled that plant, and those in Baltimore and in Warren, Mich., as part of a cost-cutting effort that eliminated 2,800 factory jobs and thousands of white-collar positions.

GM said last month that 1,381 former Lordstown workers had been transferred to other plants making trucks and SUVs. It said 1,400 were employed in Lordstown, making the Chevrolet Cruze, when operations ceased in March.

In a statement Thursday, General Motors said it was looking into building a battery factory near Lordstown that would employ about 1,000 workers. The plant would be built with a partner and would be unionized but under a separate contract.

An electric-truck company that hopes to purchase the Lordstown plant from GM would employ about 400 production workers, the automaker said.

The company has not indicated that displaced workers from its Lordstown plant would be given preference in hiring at either operation.

GM reaffirmed a plan announced in May to invest $700 million in three existing plants in Ohio -- in Parma, Toledo and the Dayton area -- with an expected net gain of 450 jobs.

"GM is committed to future investment and job growth in Ohio," the company said.

If the GM contract is ratified, the UAW will turn its focus to Ford Motor Co. or Fiat Chrysler. Contracts with those manufacturers expired Sept. 14, but workers continued reporting to assembly lines while the union negotiated with GM.

The strike at GM immediately brought the company's U.S. factories to a halt, and within a week, started to hamper production in Mexico and Canada. Analysts at KeyBanc investment services estimated that the stoppage cut GM vehicle production by 250,000 to 300,000 vehicles. That's too much for the company to make up with overtime or increased assembly line speeds.

Information for this article was contributed by Neal E. Boudette of The New York Times and by Tom Krisher of The Associated Press.

Business on 10/18/2019

Print Headline: GM pact details out; strike lingers

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