TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Union workers at the GM powertrain plant in Tonawanda rejected a contract proposal from the automaker after Local 774 posted the results of yesterday’s vote.
The final poll showed 58% of production workers, and 54% of skilled trade workers, voted “no” on the national agreement.
“We have some older members in the Tonawanda Plant, and there wasn’t retiree health insurance in that, so that could be a big stumbling block. If we are looking at our older members and they feel like they weren’t taken care of in this contract,” said Fred Floss, professor of economics at Buffalo State University.
Professor Floss says there were also promises of 40% raises but this deal is coming in at 28%, another factor that could have led to no votes both locally and nationally.
“If you’re the chief negotiator, you want to get as many people as possible on board, but you’re never going to be able to satisfy everybody. I think there were some major gains in this contract for everybody,” Floss continued.
One of those major gains on the table if the contract passes is that Tonawanda Engine will receive a $300 million investment for electric vehicle production, which will keep jobs in western New York.
UAW Region 9 Assistant Director Ray Jensen Jr. says workers should be proud of that, regardless of how the final votes are tallied nationwide come Nov. 17.
“They do see the labor movement is hot right now. So maybe they feel like, you know, we can get more. But I do have to believe our leadership when they say we squeeze every dime out of these companies because this contract touches everybody. There’s something in there for everybody,” said Jensen.
Floss also says it isn’t an unexpected outcome to see 30-40% of voters go against contracts like this. However, for Jensen and the UAW, they feel the consensus at the GM components plant in Lockport is a good one ahead of Wednesday’s vote.
“It seems that probably I’d say 80, 85% of the people are extremely happy. So, I expect it to pass in Lockport. I’ve been wrong before, I could be wrong again, but I mean, those people are going to be going from $24 an hour to $36 upon ratification. So, my message is just making sure you get out and vote,” Jensen said.
Employees of GM’s Lockport facility are scheduled to vote on the deal on Wednesday.