BREAKING NEWS : Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission terminates Electric Works development agreement Full Story

Autoworkers from closed plants fight new GM contract

About 2,000 employees who once worked at GM transmission plants near Baltimore and Detroit and a small-car assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, will repeat that message this week as 49,000 union members vote on the new four-year deal.

Posted: Oct 22, 2019 3:04 PM

DETROIT (AP) — If they can close our plant, they can close yours, too.

That’s the message from workers at three shuttered General Motors factories that didn’t get new products under the tentative contract agreement reached last week between GM and the United Auto Workers, who have been on strike against the company across the U.S. for over six weeks now.

About 2,000 employees who once worked at GM transmission plants near Baltimore and Detroit and a small-car assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, will repeat that message this week as 49,000 union members vote on the new four-year deal.

Approval could end the walkout that has crippled GM’s production and cost the company an estimated $2 billion.

Most of the workers who lost their jobs at the three sites are scattered across the country after transferring to other GM factories, so they have a presence at just about all of the automaker’s plants.

But few are holding out hope they can torpedo the contract, which comes with an $11,000 signing bonus, pay raises and plenty of other economic goodies for the factories that are staying open.

RELATED CONTENT: UAW ON STRIKE AGAINST GM 2019 FULL COVERAGE

John Sandquist Jr., who spent 25 years building cars at Lordstown near Cleveland, said he is not optimistic he will change other people’s minds, but he will vote against the pact.

“Your plant can be shut down at any time,” Sandquist said. “What the contract is lacking is the language to prevent this from happening again.”

Like many of the 1,400 workers who built the compact Chevrolet Cruze before GM stopped making the cars at Lordstown last March, Sandquist took a transfer. He wound up in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where after the strike ends he will make the new mid-engine Chevy Corvette.

He questioned why union leaders agreed to let GM close the factories, wondering if corruption inside the UAW influenced the decision to side with the company.

“We were the sacrificial lamb in this one for the whole of the UAW,” Sandquist said. “And we got screwed.”

QUIZ: WHICH FALL ACTIVITY ARE YOU?

In August, the FBI raided the suburban Detroit home of UAW President Gary Jones as part of a corruption probe. He has not been charged and has not commented on the raid. Earlier this month, Jones’ successor as union regional director in Missouri was charged in a $600,000 embezzlement scheme, and another UAW official pleaded guilty to taking kickbacks from union vendors.

Eight other people — including five UAW officials — have been convicted over the past two years of looting a jointly run Fiat Chrysler-UAW training center for blue-collar workers, with prosecutors alleging $1.2 million was diverted.

At a meeting of factory-level union leaders in Detroit last week, Dan Morgan, bargaining chairman for the local in Lordstown, made a plea to vote the contract down, saying they should stay on strike until GM keeps the plants open.

Union spokesman Brian Rothenberg said bargainers did the best they could, getting the company to agree to early retirement and buyout offers for workers from the closed factories who didn’t move to other GM plants.

Kristin Dziczek, vice president of labor and manufacturing at the Center for Automotive Research, an industry think tank, said she doesn’t think there are enough workers from the closed plants to influence the others and get the deal voted down.

“This is like gerrymandering,” she said. “They’re spread throughout the system.”

Also, she said, it will be difficult to overcome the economic benefits of the contract, which brings workers hired after 2007 up to the same pay as older workers in four years or less, gives temporary workers a path to becoming full time, gives workers lump-sum payments and lifts the $12,000 cap on profit-sharing checks.

So far, a large assembly plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, narrowly voted down the contract. But locals in Toledo, Ohio, at GM’s technical center in Warren, Michigan, and at a metal stamping facility in Saginaw, Michigan, voted overwhelmingly in favor.

Voting wraps up on Friday, with the final tally to be released that evening.

As of Tuesday, the deal was winning by more than 1,000 votes.

At Spring Hill, which has a large number of people who transferred from Lordstown, the plant closings were among many reasons that workers gave for voting down the contract 51% to 49%, said Mike Herron, union bargaining chairman at the plant.

They were also unhappy with the provisions that make temporary employees full time after three years of continuous service, and they objected to a cap of 2,000 workers who would get early retirement packages, Herron said.

The GM contract will serve as a template for negotiations with Ford and Fiat Chrysler. The union will probably pick the next company once the GM contract is ratified.

Under the deal, GM agreed to invest about $7.7 billion in its factories, creating or keeping 9,000 jobs. It also extended a moratorium on outsourcing work, but it doesn’t apply to GM joint ventures with other companies.

Of the $7.7 billion, $3 billion will go to GM’s Detroit Hamtramck plant, which will make several high-end battery-powered pickup trucks and SUVs. One under consideration is a Hummer.

A total of $1.5 billion will go to a factory in Wentzville, Missouri, to make pickups. A factory near Lansing, Michigan, will split $1 billion with the plant in Spring Hill, where the company will turn out SUVs. And $2 billion will go to refurbish other plants.

Critics complain the contract doesn’t bring back any products from Mexico, which the union had sought.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 67857

Reported Deaths: 2975
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion14710719
Lake7037269
Elkhart458276
Allen3611157
St. Joseph311479
Hamilton2489104
Cass17509
Hendricks1742105
Vanderburgh170012
Johnson1648118
Porter117439
Tippecanoe109411
Clark107545
Madison84265
LaPorte82929
Kosciusko81612
Howard80464
Marshall74222
Bartholomew73847
Floyd68444
Monroe68430
Noble63528
Delaware63352
Boone63246
Dubois62412
Hancock61637
Jackson5514
LaGrange54210
Shelby50926
Warrick50230
Grant49629
Vigo46810
Dearborn46128
Morgan41832
Henry36118
Clinton3523
White34510
Montgomery33821
Lawrence32627
Wayne3159
Decatur31332
Harrison28922
Miami2582
Scott24710
Daviess24319
Greene23834
DeKalb2214
Putnam2218
Jennings20712
Franklin20510
Jasper2032
Steuben1993
Gibson1984
Ripley1887
Perry17112
Starke1647
Orange16324
Wabash1583
Posey1570
Fayette1547
Jefferson1492
Whitley1486
Fulton1442
Carroll1422
Wells1312
Knox1290
Huntington1183
Washington1151
Spencer1133
Newton10910
Tipton1065
Randolph1024
Clay975
Jay820
Adams812
Rush794
Owen781
Sullivan751
Pulaski711
Brown701
Fountain632
Benton600
Blackford532
Ohio504
Parke451
Pike450
Switzerland430
Crawford420
Martin420
Vermillion380
Union320
Warren191
Unassigned0200

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 93031

Reported Deaths: 3529
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin17107514
Cuyahoga12646477
Hamilton9110247
Lucas4852318
Montgomery402477
Summit3248217
Marion287544
Butler268359
Mahoning2393253
Pickaway235242
Stark1679132
Lorain162076
Warren160035
Columbiana157060
Trumbull1421103
Fairfield123825
Delaware119418
Licking111642
Clark107613
Lake103435
Wood91058
Clermont83510
Medina83133
Miami76837
Tuscarawas74613
Portage71160
Allen64642
Greene61911
Belmont58926
Ashtabula53845
Richland53610
Geauga52843
Mercer52213
Erie51627
Wayne49258
Ross3874
Huron3714
Ottawa35225
Athens3441
Madison32910
Sandusky32917
Holmes3206
Darke31627
Hancock3152
Lawrence2160
Union2141
Auglaize2135
Jefferson2043
Washington19722
Putnam19317
Coshocton1856
Scioto1851
Muskingum1781
Knox1652
Crawford1645
Preble1642
Morrow1582
Shelby1574
Seneca1533
Hardin15012
Clinton1466
Fulton1391
Ashland1303
Defiance1294
Highland1271
Williams1233
Logan1201
Wyandot1195
Brown1121
Guernsey1106
Hocking1089
Carroll1075
Henry1061
Champaign1051
Perry1052
Fayette940
Monroe9018
Van Wert681
Pike660
Jackson650
Paulding590
Gallia571
Adams532
Vinton302
Meigs240
Morgan200
Harrison191
Noble160
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 64°
Angola
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 66°
Huntington
Scattered Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 63°
Decatur
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 64°
Van Wert
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 64°
Cooler Tuesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events