29 March 2013

Unionized workers reject UAW-GM bargaining proposal

Story originally appeared on Freep.

In an unusual case where the United Auto Workers union is bargaining as an employer, about 74 workers at the UAW-General Motors Center for Human Resources rejected the union’s latest contract proposal.

The staff workers include clerical, custodians, maintenance workers and professional staff, that provide safety training and legal services to UAW workers at dozens of GM factories and offices. Some of the center’s employees are represented by the Office and Professional Employees International Union. The UAW and GM jointly manage the center at the foot of Walker Street on the Detroit riverfront.

The employees have been working under the terms of their previous deal, which expired March 31, 2012, after rejecting the latest proposal Tuesday by a vote of 58 to 4.

Kevin Nix, lead negotiator for OPEIU Local 459, said his members have not authorized a strike. UAW-GM negotiators have not threatened to impose new working conditions.

But OPEIU has filed three Unfair Labor Practice complaints with the Federal Labor Relations Board during the bargaining process, Nix said. Specifically, the union alleged that the UAW-GM leaders failed to pay the OPEIU bargaining team, proposed to change workers’ health care plan and stopped bargaining at one point.

“Obviously in a world where GM is making billions of profit, we feel this contract should have been done by now,” Nix said.

A UAW spokeswoman did not respond to phone and email messages.

“The UAW-GM Center for Human Resources continues to have open and constructive dialogue with our OPEIU partners,” GM said in a statement. “We consider all information about the issues and topics discussed to be private matters between the negotiating parties.”

Nix said workers want guaranteed health care and retirement packages beyond 2016.

“What management has on the table right now is to guarantee health care and retirement just through the end of their proposed contract, which would be the end of 2016,” he said.

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