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GM-UAW tentative agreement hangs in the balance as workers divided

GM-UAW tentative agreement hangs in the balance as workers divided
GM-UAW tentative agreement hangs in the balance as workers divided 02:33
Auto Workers Contract Vote
File - Picketers strike outside of the General Motors assembly plant on Oct. 24, 2023, in Arlington, Texas. The tentative contract agreement between General Motors and the United Auto Workers union appears to be headed for defeat. The union hasn't posted final vote totals yet, but workers at five large factories who finished voting in the past few days have turned down the four year and eight month deal by fairly large margins. Julio Cortez / AP

PONTIAC, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) – The tentative agreement ratification vote for General Motors and United Auto Workers is turning into a nailbiter.

As of 5 p.m., Wednesday, about 53% of GM workers voted in favor of the deal, while 46% have rejected it.

At UAW Local 653 in Pontiac, members approved the tentative agreement last week, but it wasn't a landslide.

"I thought it would be slightly higher, but that's on average," said James Gonzalez, president of UAW Local 653.

Fifty-nine percent of Local 653 members liked the deal union leaders brokered with General Motors, ending the stand-up strike. 

"They're very interested in the COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment), a lot of older guys were interested in the buyout, the retirement buyout packets, so yeah, there were a lot of questions surrounding those areas," Gonzalez said.

The tentative agreement with GM provides a 25% raise through April 2028. For those making top pay, it takes them from $32 an hour to more than $40 an hour.

"There may be some more senior workers who were dissatisfied, believing that they didn't get enough relative to the sacrifices that they've made over time, and that could have caused them to reject the contract," Marick Masters, professor of Business Administration at Wayne State University, told CBS News Detroit.

Auto industry expert discusses latest GM-UAW tentative agreement 04:19

Wednesday morning began with many GM workers voting no at the automaker's plants in Flint, Spring Hill, Tennessee, Wentzville, Missouri, and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

By mid-morning, 60% of workers at GM's biggest moneymaker in Arlington, Texas, voted in favor of the record contract.

"Then It looks like it has a stronger chance of passing by a narrow majority. When you include the skills workers that have voted higher percentage in favor of the contract," Masters said. 

Masters isn't surprised the vote has turned into a nailbiter.

"You get these challenges all the time. You got to expect that there will be differences among rank-and-file; they don't react similarly to their circumstances depending upon how they uniquely fit into them," Masters said.

Voting at GM is expected to wrap up at midnight, with results due at UAW headquarters Thursday afternoon.

"I'm with our members across the country either way it goes, but we have to let democracy prevail. That's what this country is all about. That's what this union is all about. That's what this workforce has been all about," Gonzalez said.

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