United Auto Workers members nationwide voted overwhelmingly this week to ratify the union's tentative agreement with General Motors. The vote officially ends the historic six-week strike, which began in September when 48,000 unionized workers walked off the job in an effort to secure higher pay and greater employment protections.
"General Motors members have spoken," said Terry Dittes, the vice president and director of the UAW's GM department. "We are all so incredibly proud of UAW-GM members who captured the hearts and minds of a nation."
The UAW and GM ($GM) agreed upon the tentative agreement on October 16. The voting period for UAW members to ratify the deal began on October 19 and ended Friday evening.
Under the four-year agreement, both hourly and salaried workers will receive wage increases, additional paid holidays, new signing bonuses, and are able to keep their current healthcare plans. GM will also offer hefty bonuses to encourage eligible workers to retire this year.
GM, however, will continue with its plans to close several manufacturing facilities in Michigan, Maryland, Ohio, and Ontario. The closures are part of GM's overall restructuring plan that will cut its total salaried staff by 15 percent.
Mary Barra, GM's chairman and CEO, said the agreed-upon contract provides workers with "a strong wage and benefit package and additional investment and job growth" in the company's domestic operations. In negotiations, the automaker also agreed to $7.7 billion worth of investments in the U.S., including a commitment to build new products in Detroit.
"As one team, we can move forward and stay focused on our priorities of safety and building high-quality cars, trucks and crossovers for our customers," Barra added in a statement Friday.
For 40 days, striking workers forewent GM paychecks and received just $275 a week in strike pay from the union. UAW President Gary Jones thanked "members' families and their local communities for their outpouring of support" during the strike, which was the longest auto strike in more than 50 years.
"Our members not only joined together in solidarity but felt the support of their whole community throughout this important stand," Jones added in a statement after voting closed on Friday.
The UAW said that workers will begin immediately getting back to work.