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Wentzville's UAW production workers rejected GM's contract proposal. Here's what we know

Extra signs and reflective vests lay on the ground on Day 5 of the United Auto Workers strike against the Big Three automakers, as workers from UAW Local 2250 form picket lines on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023, outside of the General Motors Assembly Plant in Wentzville, Mo. The plant is one of three national automaker plants currently on strike, with more likely to join on Sept. 22 if progress is not made in negotiations. Union workers are seeking a contract that includes a wage increase, improved job security and better retiree pay.
Tristen Rouse
St. Louis Public Radio
United Auto Workers member strike along the picket line on Oct. 30 outside the General Motors Assembly Plant in Wentzville.

Production workers at the General Motors plant in Wentzville have voted to reject the United Auto Workers’ tentative agreement with the automaker.

UAW Local 2250 posted results on its Facebook page Wednesday morning, with 53.5% of the Wentzville plant’s 3,000 workers voting to reject the contract.

Skilled trades workers in Wentzville voted in favor of the deal, but they only make up about 10% of the plant’s workforce.

Auto workers at other facilities including GM plants in Tennessee and Indiana have voted against the proposal.

UAW Local 2250

“It’s not 100% surprising,” said Doug Swanson, who coordinates the labor studies certificate program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

When a tentative agreements between Ford, GM and Stellantis and the UAW was announced, many unionized workers were disappointed they did not get back everything they lost from the concessions made in 2008, he added.

“Even at the very beginning when this tentative agreement was announced, people were starting to note what was not there,” Swanson said. “And also the members understand they have leverage now and if they wait they may not have leverage next time.”

But Swanson doesn’t see autoworkers losing much leverage because their employers are having a hard time attracting workers, he said. It’s even pushing some non-union automakers like Honda, Toyota and Hyundai to increase wages, Swanson said.

“They’ve said it’s a direct result of the UAW agreement reached,” he said. “They know they have to be comparable in order for them to attract the workers they need.”

In voting thus far, the contracts have a majority of support from workers across the country from all three automakers, according to the UAW’s vote tracker. But that could change, Swanson said.

“It’s not an agreement until the members vote and ultimately the workers decide,” he said. “And that’s what’s happening here. It looks like it may be close as to whether the contract is ratified.”

A majority of UAW workers for each automaker must vote to ratify the proposal for it to take effect.

Brian Moline is an editor at St. Louis Public Radio, working on the education and business/economic development beats.
Eric Schmid covers business and economic development for St. Louis Public Radio.