By Todd Horwitz 

UAW Officials Vote to Extend Strike

The United Auto Workers will continue to picket General Motors Co. ’s U.S. factories until workers have approved a new labor deal, prolonging a costly nationwide strike that is already the company’s longest in decades.

In a rare step, a council of union-hall leaders meeting in Detroit voted to extend the walkout, in its 32nd day as of Thursday. The vote came after negotiators reached a tentative agreement with GM Wednesday for more than 46,000 UAW-represented workers at the company’s U.S. facilities. Typically, when bargainers reach a deal, UAW leaders call off the strike.

The union’s last contract with GM expired in mid-September, which left members without a labor agreement to work under if they had returned to work.

General Motors said it encouraged the UAW to “move as quickly as possible through the ratification process, so we can resume operations and get back to producing vehicles for our customers. Our goal during these negotiations was to ensure that the future of General Motors is one that works for our employees, dealers, suppliers and the communities where we operate. The agreement reflects our commitment to U.S. manufacturing through the creation of new jobs and increased investment.”

The union appears to have won on many of its goals, including a path to permanent employment for temporary autoworkers and a faster route to top pay for workers hired after 2007. Workers will continue to pay only 3% of their health care costs, well below the national average of 28%.

“We went on a strike for a path for temp workers and a fair share of the profits,” Rothenberg said. “The contract gives full-time temp workers a shortened path to permanent status.” UAW-represented GM workers will get a bonus of $11,000 upon ratification of the deal. Temporary workers get $4,500.

Todd “Bubba” Horwitz