GM and the UAW have a Tentative Agreement – so what happens next?

I am sure that the bargainers from both GM and the UAW will be looking forward to getting some well-deserved rest – they must be absolutely exhausted.  Unfortunately, any break will be short-lived for the UAW as they will almost immediately have to turn their attention to the ratification process. The UAW team will have to quickly develop ratification brochures that summarize the highlights of the tentative agreement and coordinate ratification meetings at multiple locations.

GM will be entering into a phase of radio silence from now through the end of the ratification period.  Accordingly, GM will likely sit back and let the UAW do their job in terms of communicating the specific details of the tentative agreement to their membership through the ratification process.

GM will be anxiously monitoring the status of the ratification voting process.  Typically, the UAW will update the company after ratification votes are tallied at each location.  The voting results communicated to the company are usually summarized by skilled / non-skilled classifications only.  If the ratification results are unfavorable at certain locations, the company may analyze the demographics at that particular location (e.g., percentage of in-progression versus traditional workers) in an attempt to gain insight as to perhaps why employees are unsatisfied with the deal.  In addition, the company will monitor social media for indicators as well. If the ratification results coming in are favorable, all is good. If the ratification results are coming in as unfavorable, then the company will have to try to ascertain the reasons why and then begin strategizing potential next steps that may include potential tweaks to the deal.

During the ratification period, the GM bargaining team will work diligently to ensure that they dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s” on the contract language.  In addition, the team will begin to develop a comprehensive contract implementation plan. This may include tasks ranging from working with the payroll department to pay signing bonuses or program general wage increases to coordinating any negotiated benefit plan design changes with third party administrators such as Blue Cross Blue Shield. 

As soon as a tentative agreement is reached between GM and the UAW, Ford and FCA will attempt to obtain the details of the deal on a confidential basis from their UAW contacts.  This will allow them to proactively plan for their round of bargaining with the UAW. In addition, the Ford and FCA Labor Economics teams will be able to cost out the economic provisions of the GM-UAW tentative agreement as applied to their respective companies.  The Ford and FCA bargaining teams will dissect the GM-UAW tentative agreement, looking for potential opportunities to perhaps modify the GM pattern to their benefit. 

Assuming a successful ratification of the GM-UAW tentative agreement, the UAW will then select the next company to bargain with, establishing a new contract deadline in the process.  In the event that the GM ratification vote is unfavorable, then GM and the UAW will return to the bargaining table and do what they need to do until they are able to secure a ratified agreement.

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