General Motors union workers have recently ratified a contract with the United Auto Workers union, following an acrimonious vote.
The news has been met with both relief and outrage among the 6,800 GM employees spread among five states. The vote comes after a year-long battle over potential cuts to salaries, health insurance, and other benefits.
The vote followed several months of intense negotiations between the union and the company, who sought cost reductions in a bid to remain competitive. The final agreement saw an average pay cut of over $14,000 per person, and over $100 million in planned savings to the company.
The agreement was ultimately approved by 66 per cent of the union members, although reactions were still divided. Supporters of the move cited the importance of securing the long-term future of jobs for GM workers, while opponents were unhappy about the deep cuts made in salaries and benefits.
The contract is the latest development in a dispute which has been ongoing since last year, when GM announced plans to reduce costs and benefits. Many commentators have said that the vote highlights the importance of unions in protecting worker rights, in a time where companies may otherwise feel free to impose draconian measures.
Indeed, while unions are often subject to criticism, the current situation shows that in the face of corporate power, well-functioning unions are able to help preserve important benefits for workers. The victory for the UAW is one of all workers, as well as of the union itself.