The United Auto Workers union confirmed Tuesday it will target General Motors first in negotiations for its collective bargaining agreement. Its agreements with GM, Ford Motor Company and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles all expire on September 14th.
Selecting GM to set the precedence comes as little surprise. Of the Detroit Three automakers, GM has come under intense scrutiny from the UAW over its closer of several North American assembly plants over the last several months. GM has left the union hanging further by referring to the shuttered plants as “unallocated,” meaning they have no products currently assigned to them, but they are stopping short of calling them closed.
Negotiations with all three automakers is likely to be contentious. All automakers are facing rapidly-increasing R&D costs to develop battery-electric and autonomous vehicles. Subsequently, rising health care costs and increasing use of temporary workers in assembly plants are also hot-button issues for this year’s negotiations.
“We are prepared and we are all ready to stand up for our members, our communities and our manufacturing future,” UAW President Gary Jones said in a statement.
GM issued a statement saying, “We look forward to having constructive discussions with the UAW on reaching an agreement that builds a strong future for our employees and our business.”
While the collective bargaining agreements themselves are contentious, the UAW is facing additional problems of its own. Last week the FBI raided Jones’ house and several other properties affiliated with the union. So far several UAW representatives have been sentenced as part of a government corruption investigation.