DETROIT, Michigan (WYTV) – Tuesday morning, members of the United Auto Workers and General Motors met in Detroit for the GM Handshake Ceremony.
It marked the opening of contract talks on a new national agreement to replace the current four-year agreement, which expires Sept. 14.
UAW International President Gary Jones spoke at the event. He spoke about the hardworking employees that make up the workforce and that workforce’s dedication to GM.
“UAW members have been the backbone of General Motors for more than 80 years,” he said. “They are the loyalest of employees. They are your most loyal customers and they have supported General Motors through thick and thin.”
Jones spoke about GM’s success with the UAW, including recent investments at plants in Michigan and Kentucky to create more than 1,400 new jobs.
He also talked about something he called the “race to the bottom,” noting jobs being shipped to China and Mexico. He says the UAW will protect their workers.
“We all know that we have seen a race to the bottom over the past several years for working men and women in this country. Cuts in benefits, retirement security in jeopardy, job loss, wage loss, more and more temporary workers, shipping our jobs to Mexico and China and outsourcing our good General Motors jobs to other companies paying lower wages in the United States. So, what I want to say today and what I want GM’s leadership to hear is: With this year’s negotiations, we will halt that race to the bottom. We will protect this workforce, their jobs and their way of life,” he said.
He also spoke on President Donald Trump’s “Made-in-America” campaign.
“The UAW enters this bargaining session in good faith that GM will continue to move forward on this Made-in-America course,” Jones said.
To finish his speech, Jones reiterated that the organization is ready to negotiate.
“So, as we kick off 2019 negotiations today, and I say to everyone listening and everyone in this room, we are the voice of the American worker, the defenders of the middle class and we are ready to talk,” he said.
According to Automotive News, General Motors CEO Mary Barra said they have to work together in order to be successful.
“The opportunity for whoever gets it right is absolutely huge. Having us all aligned is critical to achieving that success,” she said. “Our collective future is at stake. We cannot move forward without each other.”