The United Auto Workers strike against the three Detroit automakers has already resulted in tentative contract agreements with Ford and Stellantis, but a deal with General Motors still hangs in the air.
The UAW called on nearly 4,000 union members to walk out at GM’s largest North American plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, on Saturday evening, bringing the total number of members on strike nationwide to about 18,000, per The Associated Press News.
While the union did not comment on what prompted the expanded walkout, Erik Gordon, a professor of business at the University of Michigan, says the move would likely encourage the automaker to wrap up negotiations sooner rather than later.
“The Spring Hill walkout affects so much of GM’s production that the company is likely to settle quickly or close down most production,” said Gordon, per AP News. The reason, Gordon surmises, is so “Ford and Stellantis workers don’t vote down [their] tentative agreements” while they wait “to see what GM workers get.”
Overall, GM was the last holdout to reach an agreement with the union on a new four-year contract that includes higher pay, better benefits, and other “quality-of-life” improvements.
The union had already agreed on tentative contract terms with Ford and Stellantis but had expanded its strike to include the GM plant in Spring Hill and its plant in Arlington, Texas, to pressure GM and encourage a quick deal.
In response to Saturday’s expanded strike, GM chair and CEO Mary Barra and manufacturing chief Gerald Johnson met with UAW president Shawn Fain and others to hammer out a deal before the strike escalated any further.
Following Saturday’s walkout, GM said it was disappointed in the decision, particularly in light of the automaker and union’s progress. However, as of Monday morning, GM had reportedly settled on new tentative agreements with the union, per AP News.
“Our bargainers did their job. They’re going to present us with something, and then we get to tell them it was good enough or it wasn’t,” said Mike Huerta, president of UAW Local 602.
If necessary, Huerta said the union was ready to continue striking if the contract terms weren’t to the UAW’s liking.
“If we do turn it down, we’ll be ready to go back again,” he said.
“The devil’s in the details,” Herta added.
In response, Barra said, “GM is pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with the UAW that reflects the contributions of the team while enabling us to continue to invest in our future and provide good jobs in the U.S.”
The Dallas Express requested comment from the UAW and GM about the tentative agreement but had not heard back by the time of publishing.
Although the UAW has reached tentative deals with all three automakers, the agreements will need to be ratified by rank-and-file members before the new contracts can take effect. However, if union members find the contract terms insufficient, the strike could continue.