The changes involve “painful, unprecedented sacrifices” for union workers, U.A.W. officials told members in a summary distributed to plant leaders Tuesday. “Faced with this dire situation and realizing failure to meet the government requirements would surely mean the end of General Motors, your bargainers painstakingly put together modifications to the collective bargaining agreement to satisfy the Treasury Auto Task Force,” the summary said. “Considering the alternatives, we urge a ‘yes’ vote in factor of ratification.” The plant leaders who met Tuesday morning in Detroit voted unanimously to recommend that their members support the deal.
The union persuaded G.M. to reduce the number of vehicles it will import from low-wage countries like China. G.M. agreed to retool two previously closed plants in the United States so that they can stamp metal for and build as many as 160,000 compact and small cars a year. G.M. also agreed not to increase production in Mexico by reducing production of similar vehicles in the United States. Three assembly plants and one stamping plant would be put on “standby,” to be reactivated if market demand increases beyond current projections.
Nearly all of G.M.’s hourly workers will receive another buyout and early retirement offer. Production workers eligible to retire would receive $20,000 and a $25,000 discount voucher toward a new vehicle, which is similar to the terms that 7,000 workers accepted in March. Workers with at least 20 years of seniority who agree to give up future benefits would receive $115,000 plus a voucher, which is far greater than the March offer. . . . Retiree benefits will be reduced as of July 1, at the direction of the Treasury, the union said. At that time, pending court approval, retirees will lose vision and dental coverage, among other changes.