DETROIT ― The United Auto Workers union looks set to announce approval of its labor contract with General Motors Co on Wednesday as more than half the local bargaining units have voted in favor of the four-year deal.
Ratification of the GM deal, which includes bonuses instead of hourly wage increases, would clear the way for the union to complete talks with the automaker’s crosstown rival, Ford Motor Co.
The UAW had indicated a deal with Ford could yield a proposed contract this week, although an update for union members by Ford negotiators on Tuesday night said only that talks continued, and there were no major developments to report.
Voting ends Wednesday on the GM contract, which would be the first for 48,500 GM hourly workers represented by the UAW since the automaker’s 2009 bankruptcy and restructuring.
GM executives have set a conference call with Wall Street analysts for Wednesday afternoon to explain the financial implications of the contract for the first time.
The deal would add or save more than 6,000 U.S. factory jobs, raise wages for entry-level employees and pay each worker at least $11,500 in bonuses over the four years.
The terms also would leave GM’s break-even point unchanged and allow the automaker to tackle the risk of its underfunded pension plan, one of the few issues left unaddressed by the restructuring directed by the Obama administration.
“When we went into this labor negotiation, we were very focused on that,” GM Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson told a conference in New York on Tuesday. “We could not do anything to negatively bias our break-even point.”
UAW President Bob King joined the Ford talks this week, and the focus shifted to the tough economic issues.
Teams of negotiators for the union and Ford, the only U.S. automaker to avoid bankruptcy, have been meeting for about two months. The two sides typically address financial issues in the final stages of negotiations.
The union began an intense focus on Ford last week, a day after failing to finalize a deal with Chrysler Group LLC. It has extended its contract with the Fiat SpA-controlled automaker until Oct. 19.
Observers are interested in the extent that the UAW will adjust contract terms to the different financial positions of the three Detroit automakers.