Bargainers for General Motors and the United Auto Workers reached a tentative contract deal on Wednesday that could end a monthlong strike that brought the company's US factories to a standstill. The deal, which the union says offers "major gains" for workers, was hammered out after months of bargaining but won't bring an immediate end to the strike by 49,000 hourly workers. They will likely stay on the picket lines for at least two more days as two union committees vote on the deal, after which the members will have to approve, the AP reports. Terms of the tentative four-year contract were not released, but it's likely to include some pay raises, lump sum payments to workers, and requirements that GM build new vehicles in US factories. Early on, GM offered new products in Detroit and Lordstown, Ohio, two of the four US cities where it planned to close factories.
The company offered to build a new electric pickup truck to keep the Detroit-Hamtramck plant open and to build an electric vehicle battery factory in or near Lordstown, Ohio, where GM is closing an assembly plant. The battery factory would employ far fewer workers and pay less money than the assembly plant. The deal now will be used as a template for talks with GM's crosstown rivals, Ford and Fiat Chrysler. Normally the major provisions carry over to the other two companies and cover about 140,000 auto workers nationwide. Art Schwartz, a former GM negotiator who now runs a labor consulting business, said depending on the contents, the contract could influence wages and benefits at other manufacturers. But he said foreign automakers with US factories, mainly in the South, always give pay raises and shouldn't be affected much. (More here, including how the strike impacted GM's production.)