It’s the No. 1 contract request from workers — and GM, UAW can’t agree on it – Detroit Free Press
CLOSEAutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext SlideThe UAW's strike against General Motors is in its ninth day as bargainers resumed meeting around 8 a.m. Tuesday.About half a dozen key issues remain in play, but none appears to be more contentious than questions surrounding temporary workers.In fact, union members said it was the top request among union members…
CLOSEAutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext SlideThe UAW’s strike against General Motors is in its ninth day as bargainers resumed meeting around 8 a.m. Tuesday.About half a dozen key issues remain in play, but none appears to be more contentious than questions surrounding temporary workers.In fact, union members said it was the top request among union members when surveyed by leadership last year.”The temp issue was one of the top requests union members made,” said John Ryan Bishop, a GM UAW worker at Flint Assembly who started off as a temp in 2012 at GM’s Orion Assembly plant. “It’s a really big deal. A lot of people who were hired in started as temps. They remember what it was like being a temp.”Autoworkers say temps, who are union members, often work side by side with permanent employees, doing the same work for half the pay and far fewer benefits. Agreeing to let automakers increase use of temps was a concession as the Detroit Three floundered heading into the Great Recession a decade ago. Some temps work years and lack a clear path to being hired permanently. The union wants a process in place to help those workers become permanent and, while they are still temps, get pay and benefits that more closely match that of their permanent counterparts. GM is holding firm to the status quo, people familiar with the talks tell the Free Press.
Temps make up 7-10% of GM’s workforce over the course of a year, accounting for about 4,100 workers at the end of 2018. Ford had about 3,400 temps at year’s end, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles had 4,800, the UAW said.GM and the UAW are holding strong to their positions. Observers say both sides likely underestimated the other’s resolve at the outset of negotiations.Don’t screw upOn Sept. 15, about 46,000 GM UAW members went on strike nationwide after GM made an offer to the union two hours before the 2015 contract expired at midnight Sept. 14. The talks have progressed, albeit slowly.Sources familiar with the talks say GM backed off on proposing that workers pay for more of their health care — initially proposing a 15% share rather than the autoworkers’ current 3% — but wanted the UAW to bend on temporary workers. Accounts of the talks say neither side is budging much. For those temporary workers caught in the middle, this issue keeps them up at night.”In the end, there’s a likelihood we’ll get left behind as temps even though the union is trying to fight for us. My biggest hope is they at least find a path for us to become permanent employees,” said Mat Bard, a materials driver at GM’s Flint Assembly plant. “But it makes me kind of nervous as to what happens if they don’t give us that pathway.”Bard, 36, has worked as a temp at Flint Assembly for three months. When he started, Bishop, the former temp, gave Bard advice: “Don’t ever be late, don’t ever take off and don’t ever screw up. Just keep your