UAW workers at General Motors ratify contract

United Auto Workers at General Motors on Thursday approved a contract that would usher in a new era of record wage gains and the elimination of tiers that paid newer workers less than those with experience.

A union vote tracker showed that more than 54 percent of 35,000 UAW workers employed by General Motors who cast ballots voted in favor of the contract, with the final votes counted on Thursday.

Workers at the five largest plants voted the deal down in the past few days, because some workers at those plants were disappointed it didn’t win more concessions for retirees, like reinstating pensions. It does force the automakers to increase their contributions to 401(k) retirement accounts.

The agreements mark the biggest compensation gains the union has won in decades, including a 25 percent raise in base wages over 4½ years.

The contract comes after a long period when worker wages did not keep up with inflation, and after the union gave up some of its benefits around the time of the Great Recession, when the automakers were struggling to survive. The union managed to claw back many of those perks in the new deals, including restoring regular cost-of-living wage adjustments to offset inflation. It also eliminated wage tiers that had left newer workers on a lower pay scale.

The deal also appear to offer UAW workers some protection in the industry’s conversion to electric vehicles. Workers have worried that wages and job security will be lower in the industry’s new battery and EV factories. Both the GM agreement includes language wrapping some of these new factories into the union’s main contracts with the automakers.

This is a developing story.

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