GM strike ends; both sides claim victory
Deal early Wednesday will shift pension costs to union
The deal early Wednesday that ends the two-day strike by the United Auto Workers against General Motors is being hailed as a victory on both sides, even as the ripple effects from the walkout were starting to be felt outside the walls of the nation's number one automaker.
CNN reports that the deal will put the responsibility for control -- and for the costs -- of a $50 billion pension fund in the hands of the UAW. That takes the pension plan off GM's books, an issue that the company said was crucial to
"There's no question this was one of the most complex and difficult bargaining sessions in the history of the GM/UAW relationship," said a statement from GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner. "This agreement helps us close the fundamental competitive gaps that exist in our business. The projected competitive improvements in this agreement will allow us to maintain a strong manufacturing presence in the United States along with significant future investments"
UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said the tentative deal was backed by the union's executive committee and its negotiating team.
GM suppliers were already beginning to feel the impact of the strike. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that
The impact was also starting to be felt north of the border. Canadian union officials said that up to 100,000 Canadian union workers could have been idled if the strike continues.
"We have about 80,000 workers in Canada that work in the automotive parts sector, and General Motors buys about 50% of all automotive parts manufactured in Canada," said CAW president Buzz Hargrove before the settlement.
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Annual Salary Survey
Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.
There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.
But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.
Read more: 2015 Salary Survey