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UAW Victory! GM Workers Approve Controversial Contract Deal

United Automobile Worker members and General Motors have reached a tentative agreement following an intense and contentious ratification vote. The agreement, which was reached last week, will bring concessionary wages and benefits for the next four years and follows a strike by the union against the carmaker that lasted nearly six weeks. It’s the first major union-led strike against a major U.S. automaker in more than a decade. The deal was complicated, with UAW officials convinced that any deal had to retain enough job security and benefits to be accepted by workers, as well as setting wages and benefits that would help GM remain competitive in a rapidly changing automotive sector. In the end, the members narrowly approved a deal that allows GM to cut its production costs by offering a mix of early retirements, cost-cutting measures, and wage and benefit reductions. For workers, the deal brings pension and profit-sharing increases, as well as bonuses and incentives to encourage new hires. Health care remains a priority, with union members receiving lower co-pays and deductibles, while also retaining existing medical and dental coverage. The agreement seals a contentious three-month period that saw GM struggle to maintain production as union workers stuck to their guns for better wages and benefits. The strike ended with GM set to close up to four U.S. plants and slash 15 percent of its North American workforce, although the automaker has pledged to find jobs for those displaced employees at other plants. Ultimately, it appears that this deal was the best that could be achieved by both sides. GM gets cost savings to help it remain competitive, while union workers get to keep their health care benefits and some job security. It has been a long and difficult process, but it appears both sides can now move forward.