General Motors and the United Auto Workers reached a deal on Oct. 25 after six weeks of being on strike, making it the longest auto workers strike in 50 years.
The strike started on Sept. 16 following the expiration of the contract with GM.
James Neu, a UAW union member, said the strike had to do away the tier wages and time it takes to max out in pay.
“Right now, there are workers working next to each other doing the same job but getting different pay. Those are legacy workers with more than 15 years making top pay next to the new hires with less than five years making about $10 less an hour,” Neu said. “One of the founding principles of unions is equal pay for equal work. The path for full pay is too long.”
The closing of the UAW strike came with workers with small wins and losses.
Auto workers are guaranteed a 3% raise and 4% lump sum increase between alternating years.
Factories once set to be abandoned are being invested in. This includes the Detroit-Hamtramck factory. GM will now build electric vehicles there. According to a Vox article, “that is a $3 billion investment in 2,225 jobs.”
Newer hires will be able to earn full pay in four years, compared to eight and the top rate was elevated from $30 to $32 per hour.
Health care costs stay the same.
The wins are progress, but fall short of what union members were originally hoping for.
Why are unions so important? Why should college students care? James Neu said union workers are the backbone and structure to society.
Many factory workers are not college educated. Auto industry workers follow a similar trend.
This does not mean union auto industry members do not support a college education. Auto union members may be supporting their children. Without union auto workers, many college students would not have made their way to higher education.
Unions set the basis for equal and civil rights. They have helped paved the way for safe working conditions and equal opportunities, regardless of gender or race. Most union contracts have protections in place that national laws do not.
Unions set standards for work conditions, allowing for pay to be elevated. Union wages are often higher than un-negotiated pay.