Things are starting to look a lot better for General Motors – at least on the labor front. With the nearly three-month strike at American Axle, a major parts supplier, settled, GM is also getting workers back on the job at some of its own plants, several of which had been hit by strikes, in recent weeks.
After voting overwhelmingly in favor of a new, local contract, hourly employees started back on today’s morning shift at the plant in Kansas City that produces the automaker’s much-acclaimed Chevrolet Malibu sedan. Just days earlier, workers at another plant, in Lansing, Michigan, ended their short walkout – a deal apparently pushed through after GM announced it would eliminate medical coverage for strikers.
The giant carmaker was largely able to weather the American Axle strike because the supplier’s parts are mostly earmarked for large pickups and SUVs. Dealers were buried in supplies of those products, due to the shift in current market demand. But the Malibu is one of GM strongest passenger car models in recent years, and some dealers reported they had sold out of the sedan, which was named North American Car of the Year in January.
Among the highlights of the deal that gets Kansas City workers -- all members of the United Auto Workers Union -- back on the job:
• A $1,250 bonus to recognize their role in the successful launch of Malibu;
• Workers keep a $600 clothing allowance;
• And factory washrooms will now get hands-free flush toilets.