Tennessee GM Workers Vote Down UAW-GM Proposed Deal

Striking workers wave to supporters from an overpass above Highway 31 in Spring Hill, Tennessee. (Mike Elk)

UAW members of UAW Local 1853, employed at General Motors’ Spring Hill, Tennessee facility, voted down a proposed tentative agreement by a margin of 1,673 against the contract to 1,666 in favor of the deal. 

The vote was a contentious one with UAW Local 1853 President Tim Stannard even calling the police on UAW members protesting the proposed contract outside of the union’s hall in Spring Hill. (Watch a video of the incident here)

The failure to pass the contract, deep in the heart of “right-to-work” country, could be a bellwether of the difficulty UAW may have in passing the contract elsewhere. 

(See Payday’s story on the mobilization effort at the plant “Tennessee GM Workers Surprised By Outpouring of Community Support”

To pass the proposed tentative agreement, the UAW is relying on large assembly shops like Spring Hill to vote for it. 

Auto part makers, under the General Motors Components Holding division (GMCH) and GM warehouse workers, are both expected to vote heavily against the agreement. Both groups are employed under tiered wage systems that remained at lower tiers under terms dictated during the auto bailout. 

“The contract is worthless,” said UAW Local 730 committeeman David Brown, who works at GMCH plant in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “I’m not trying to sell this shit to my members… [the UAW] can kiss my ass”. 

However, in some shops more loyal to top UAW leadership, particularly those gaining jobs under the deal, the contract has so far met success.

Workers at Toledo’s GM transmission plant, which supply parts to the Detroit-Hamtramck facility, which will stay open under the deal, voted for the contract by a margin of 1,134 to 302. 

Workers at Warren Tech facility in Michigan, which is expected to add 75 jobs under the deal as part of $200 million investment in new technology in the plant, voted for the contract by a margin of 883 to 161. 

So far, only 5,000 votes have been cast for the contract out of 49,000 eligible workers, who will be voting over the next week. In early returns, according to an online tally kept by UAW activists, the contract is currently leading by a margin of 3,708 to 2,161. 

However, workers in GMCH plants and GM warehouse, which are expected to side heavily against the contract, have yet to vote. Workers have all week to vote with UAW slated to announce the results on Friday. 

(Read Payday’s full analysis of the proposed tentative agreement here)

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About the Author

Mike Elk
A Sidney-award winning labor reporter, Mike Elk is the founder of Payday Report and also covers labor and immigration for The Guardian. In 2015, he was illegally fired for union organizing as Politico’s senior labor reporter and used his $70,000 NLRB settlement to start Payday. The son of United Electrical Workers (UE) Director of Organization Gene Elk, he lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh He can be reached at Melk@PaydayReport.com

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