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Exclusive: UAW-GM contract does not automatically convert temporary part-time workers

The World Socialist Web Site has obtained an advance copy of the United Auto Workers-General Motors contract proposal, which the UAW is expected to post online in the coming days. On Saturday, UAW President Shawn Fain and UAW Vice President for GM Mike Booth are scheduled to review the “highlights” of their deal with GM.

The contract book includes hundreds of pages of “letters of understanding” between top GM and UAW executives, all of which have been written by company and union lawyers and largely designed to conceal their meaning from workers.

There is already growing opposition among rank-and-file Ford and Stellantis workers as they study their contract. The World Socialist Web Site calls on autoworkers at Stellantis, Ford, and General Motors to reject the sellout contracts being pushed by the United Auto Workers apparatus. We urge workers to establish rank-and-file committees to fight for the broadest possible “no” vote and prepare a real struggle to win workers’ demands.

Join the next meeting of the Autoworkers Rank-and-File Committee Network to discuss the implications of the UAW-Ford deal and how to organize to defeat the sellout. Register here to attend.

Sign up for text message updates on the Detroit Three contract fight by texting AUTO to (866) 847-1086

UAW-GM contract expands corporatist union-management “joint” programs, binding the union to the hip of management at every level

A significant element of the GM-UAW contract, similar to all the Detroit Three agreements, is the establishment of myriad corporatist connections between the UAW bureaucracy and the companies. Indeed, the bulk of the contract details the various “joint” committees that join at the hip the interests of the UAW apparatus to those of management.

The word “joint” appears over 700 times in the contract.

These joint committees, structures and programs, including in the first place the “Joint Training” programs, are little more than slush funds for UAW bureaucrats, funded largely by the company, in violation of all earlier prohibitions of the establishment of company unions.

Further, UAW officials who are members of these joint committees are bound to confidentiality. This is not to keep information from the company, but to keep workers in the dark.

The first task of all these various committees, often spelled out openly, is to find cost savings for the company, as well as develop efficiency in the name of further competitiveness and profits.

These committees work to suppress rank-and-file opposition to overwork, unsafe conditions, management harassment and poverty pay via a web of union-management collaboration, effectively denying workers any genuine representation.

For example, in the contract section “The Company-Union Committee on Health Care Benefits,” it states the union-management body “will engage in activities which have a high potential for cost savings while achieving the maximum level of health care coverage and services for the money spent for such protection.”

An example of the “cost savings” achieved by the UAW in the 2023 agreement is the reduction of health care coverage during layoff from 25 to 24 months.

Nearly all the other changes in relation to healthcare make explicit what health benefits do not apply to Full-Time Temporary employees. For example, under the section “Continuation of Coverage Upon Retirement or Termination of Employment at age 65 or older,” it states, “The provisions of this Section 6 are inapplicable to … Full-Time Temporary Employees.”

Also, in the section that adds details on coverage arrangements for a surviving spouse and dependents if an employee death is the result of conditions at GM, the document states that with the exception of eligible dependent children, provisions for spouses are not applicable to In-Progression and Full-Time temporary employees.

Even a partial list of the committees detailed in the GM-UAW agreement puts to rest the claims by UAW president Shawn Fain that his administration has ended the UAW’s  “unity” with corporate management. On the contrary, the number of joint committees has been expanded in the 2023 contract proposal.

In the first place are the various trust funds, including the $73 billion VEBA (Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association, which nominally funds retiree health benefits). The document spells out in detail the company’s funding obligation to each.

A memoranda of understanding on Joint Activities on page 91 of the document states, “The Company will contribute $24.149 million to the UAW-GM LMC Trust and $12.804 million to the UAW-GM VEBA Trust to fund the Trusts’ operations in 2024.”

The Joint Activities Trust Funds include:

  1. UAW-GM Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association Trust Fund (VEBA Trust)
  2. UAW-GM Center for Human Resources
  3. UAW-GM Labor Management Committees Trust Fund
  4. Joint Learning Centers Program,
  5. GM-UAW Employee Benefit Plans and Programs

Other committees and joint activities include:

  • GM-UAW Skilled Trades and Apprentice Committee
  • Plant New Technology Committee
  • Local Joint Skill Development and Training Committee,
  • Joint Skill Development and Training Program.
  • UAW-GM Joint Skill Development And Training Committee
  • The Local Joint Activities Committee,
  • Local Joint Health and Safety Committees
  • National Joint Committee on Health and Safety
  • Joint Research And Occupational Health Advisory Boards
  • Joint Ergonomics Programs
  • Joint Ergonomics Technician Team
  • Noise Control Committee
  • National Committee On Attendance
  • Quarterly Joint high level Competitiveness Review (page 173 of the contract notes, “Both UAW and management representatives have access to confidential information and the parties must assure it remains confidential.”)
  • Vehicle Assembly- Business Review Team
  • Metal Fabrication, Metal Assembly and Blanking –
  • Business Review Team Process
  • Propulsion - Business Review Team Process
  • GMCH- Business Review Team Process
  • Customer Care and Aftersales (CCA) - Business Review Team Process
  • GM-UAW National Agreement Future Product Sourcing process
  • Global Product Development Process
  • UAW-GM Joint Diversity and Equal Application Committee UAW-GM Work/Family Committee
  • UAW-GM GMS Leadership Council
  • UAW-GM OMS Local Leadership Councils
  • GM-UAW-Skilled Trades Apprenticeship Readiness Certificate (STARC) program

Details of full GM-UAW contract expose false claims that all temp workers will be converted to regular employees

Confirming earlier reports, the GM-UAW tentative agreement does not provide for the immediate conversion of all current temporary workers at the ratification of the contract or after a set period of employment.

Only “Full-time Temporary” workers with at least 90 days seniority will be converted to regular status at ratification.

The contract states, “Upon the effective date of this Agreement, the parties mutually agree to convert current Full-time Temporary Employees with at least ninety (90) days of continuous service to Regular status.”

And going forward, only full-time temps—not part-time temps—will be automatically converted after nine months to regular, full-time employment. The contract continues, “Thereafter, the parties mutually agree to convert Full-time Temporary Employees to regular status employees upon the completion of nine (9) months of continuous service.”

This marks a significant concession by the UAW apparatus to GM in comparison to its Ford and Stellantis deals, as bad as those agreements are:

  • At Stellantis, the UAW agreed to only convert a set number of temps—1,972—90 days after the contract is ratified. After that, both full-time and part-time temps (called “supplemental employees” at Stellantis) will be automatically converted to full-time status after nine months, with the “timer” beginning on January 1, 2024. However, the UAW agreed to the possibility to “extend that period,” calling into question how long it will actually be honored by the company.
  • At Ford, the UAW agreed to have only temporary full-time workers with 90 days automatically converted (contrary to the claims of Fain). The contract otherwise nominally states that both part-time and full-time temps will be converted to regular employment status after nine months.

The confirmation that only “Full-time Temporary” GM workers will be converted exposes the lie peddled by Fain in his Monday night livestream, when he claimed, “All temporary workers with at least 90 days of employment will be converted to full-time seniority workers.”

UAW-GM deal establishes new tier, lower wage scale for Ultium battery workers

In addition, other pro-company provisions are clear based upon an initial review of the proposed contract:

  • The contract provides the same inadequate pay raises and cost of living formula as the Ford and Stellantis deals, while maintaining the two-tier structure. Second-tier workers will not have pensions or retiree health benefits restored.
  • Workers at Ultium Cells LLC battery plants will be brought under terms of the national contract agreement, but they will be under a separate pay scale set at 75 percent of the standard base pay. Former Lordstown Assembly workers and workers laid off due to the transition to EV production will be able to transfer to Ultium Cells at their existing wage rate, meaning yet another tier will be created at the battery plants.
  • The contract states workers employed at GM Subsystems will be reconstituted under their own department in the 2023 GM-UAW national agreement. It is not explicitly stated that pay rates for Subsystems workers will be set at the level of the national contract. The last Subsystems contract brought pay up to just $22 an hour.
  • The contract offers a $50,000 retirement buyout to eligible GM workers in an effort to entice out higher paid “legacy” workers and pave the way for downsizing and the hiring of more temp workers at the poverty wage of $21 an hour.
  • There is no reduction in working hours. Like at Ford and Stellantis, the demand for a shorter workweek or even limits on forced overtime have been completely abandoned.

    Meanwhile, the contract establishes a “Worklife Balance Joint Committee to explore and discuss opportunities to address worklife balance issues,” adding to the maze of joint union-management bodies that provide cushy jobs for cronies of the UAW apparatus.

GM Flint UAW official admits part-time temps will not be immediately rolled over to full-time positions

In his Facebook Livestream Monday night on the tentative agreement with General Motors, United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain declared, “We have slammed the door on GM having a permanent underclass of employees. All temp workers with at least 90 days of employment will be converted to full-time seniority workers.”

Shortly afterwards, this claim began to fall apart when workers at the Flint Assembly Plant began questioning UAW Local 598 Plant Chairman Eric Welter about Fain’s statement on the local union’s phone app.

The following exchange took place:

Question: Just making sure I heard Fain’s Live correctly that ALL Temps will be hired if the TA is ratified?

Answer: I understand how you could take that from what he said so I need to clear this up before it gets out of hand. The agreement is Full time temporary employees (FTT) with at least 90 days at that status will convert, no ptt [part-time temporaries].

Screenshot of the an exchange UAW Local 598 Plant Chairman Eric Welter

After another worker pointed out that Fain said “all” temps would be immediately converted, Welter tried to claim that Fain’s lies were the result of a technical slip up. It’s a “problem in our organization of not clearly distinguishing between ptt and ftt.”

Only a fraction of the temps at the Flint GM plant are full-time temps. Workers have told the World Socialist Web Site that there are an estimated 100 full-time temps at the plant, while 700-800 are part-time temps. Under the arcane terms of the previous agreement, temporary workers can only be converted to a full-time position after two years of service, with the last 12 months of that two-year period served as a full-time temp.

“We did not get the contracts we want”: Flint Assembly workers denounce UAW-GM deal

Flint Assembly workers get off work on April 19, 2023

Rank-and-file opposition is growing as more details emerge about the tentative agreements the United Auto Workers bureaucracy has reached with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis.

On Monday evening, workers learned that GM will not immediately convert all temporary workers with at least 90 days of service to full-time positions, as UAW President Shawn Fain claimed just hours before. In response to questions from workers on the union’s phone app, UAW Local 598 Plant Chairman Eric Welter admitted that only “temporary full-time workers,” not “temporary part-time workers” would be converted.

This only added to the anger over the UAW bureaucracy’s dropping of workers’ core demands for 40-46 percent wage increases, full cost-of-living protection and the restoration of company-paid pensions and retiree health benefits for workers hired after 2007, which the UAW previously gave up. Workers are also very concerned about the impending job cuts due to the auto industry’s conversion to electric vehicle production.

“I’ve been a temp for two years. Who knows when I’ll be hired in?” a young GM worker at the Flint plant told the World Socialist Web Site. “At first, I thought, well, I’m finally going to be treated right, fairly, only to learn it’s not true. This fight is not over though. It is most important that the rank and file vote this down! In my opinion, Fain let GM off the hook.”

Another part-time temp worker declared, “The lies never stop with Fain! After Fain’s livestream some workers were really confused about what he actually said and went to our shop chairman to demand answers. That’s when he informed us that we part-time temps will not be hired in as full-time workers.

“I think there’s been a huge change in what people think here because of this. We were all hearing Fain say these demands before the strike began. He was getting rid of tiers, restoring COLA, 40 percent wage increase. Now we know that tiers are most certainly not going away. I’ll still be working side-by-side doing the same work with coworkers who make almost twice as much.”

Another part-time temp told the WSWS, “This agreement is not good for any of us—not for temps and not for the seniority workers. Make sure you understand that COLA is based on the 2009 formula. That bit caught my eye, because we are in 2023. I’m broke, but I’m not stupid! We’re already way behind, and this will put us further behind. Both temps and seniority workers must vote this sellout down! We cannot let the union higher-ups get away with this deception!

“Nothing we sent Fain to get is in this agreement. This is not what we wanted. The stand up strike was really just a strategic layoff for those not called out to strike. Those on strike were starved. $500 a week is nothing. Here in Flint, basic rent is $800 a month. For workers who were laid off, it’s even worse.”

He continued, “As a temp, I feel I’m one of those workers who is being savagely plotted against. We’re treated like puppets. If our wages are brought up to $21 an hour, this is nothing! Many, many of my coworkers on the shop floor have changed what they think of Shawn Fain and the UAW reps over the past six weeks. On September 14, we were all set to strike and looking forward to a fight to get what we need. Then we got the stand up strike. Many of us started to question what was that about? When after two weeks, we were still working in GM’s #2 profit-making truck plant, we kept thinking maybe next week we’ll be called out. No word ever came, and we became suspicious of the UAW reps. Tension increased from management and the UAW.

“Now we look at the UAW and think, ‘You are one of them.’ You did not get the contracts we wanted. We look at the UAW officials like cops. They are the enforcers of GM and management. We need to get the word out and reject the agreement.”

A veteran worker told the WSWS, “Fain came out roaring like a big bad wolf. He was going to do so much and didn’t do anything for seniority employees. He really screwed us over. This is like the last contract and the contract before that. Nothing for us! What’s 25 percent? What’s a nickel of COLA? Inflation is the highest it’s ever been. I need to see results.

“The 2009 formula, it’s their formula. We gave up so much back in 2009 to help the bail out GM. We lost COLA, we lost some vacation days. We didn’t get a raise in over 15 years.

“Another thing—when in the history of GM have we ever been on strike and gone back to work before ratification?

“Everyone should vote no, but I’m worried that somehow this contract will pass because of the corruption and greed.”

Another full-time worker commented, “Fain told us he was waging class warfare. This contract does not reflect that. He didn’t call us out to use our power in an all-out strike against the Big Three. He said he would fight for a 40 percent wage increase, COLA, ending the tiers. This contract is not the result of class war. It protects the profits of the auto companies, and we need to reject it like the Mack Trucks workers did.”

WSWS statement: Oppose the UAW-backed sellout contracts at Ford, GM and Stellantis!

The World Socialist Web Site calls on autoworkers at Ford, GM and Stellantis to reject the sellout contracts supported by the United Auto Workers apparatus. We urge workers to establish rank-and-file committees to fight for the broadest possible “no” vote and prepare a real struggle to win workers’ demands.

The UAW announced a tentative agreement with General Motors Monday morning after announcing similar deals over the past few days with Ford and Stellantis. UAW President Shawn Fain, US President Joe Biden and the corporate media issued the inevitable declarations that the contracts are “historic” (Fain and Biden), “reward autoworkers who gave up much” (Biden) and “give workers the biggest pay raises in decades” (New York Times).

These are a pack of lies. The UAW’s bogus “stand up strikes” were tightly scripted to conclude with deals that in fact had already been agreed to long ago. Barely a third of the UAW membership at the Big Three was called out on strike at the widest point of the “stand up strikes” last Tuesday. For most of the time after the Big Three contracts expired on September 14, 80-90 percent of autoworkers were ordered to stay on the job, working without contracts.

In a final burst of theatrics before the agreements were announced, the UAW called out a small number of larger, more profitable plants, shutting them down after a handful of days or less. Workers were ordered to end their pickets at these plants before there was any impact on the inventories the companies had built up.

All of this was designed in advance by the UAW leadership and the Biden administration to have as little effect on corporate profits as possible. Topping off this charade, the UAW apparatus shut down all strikes immediately after announcing their agreements, before workers even had a chance to see, let alone vote on them.

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