Engine plant director says "mood is positive" despite local workers rejecting new contract
Monday marked the first full day back on the job for nearly 1,300 workers at GM's Tonawanda Engine plant. One of the longest strikes in years came to an end late Friday with the United Auto Workers agreeing to a new contract.
Engine Plant Director Ram Ramanujam said some employees came back over the weekend to get critical operations up and running for the start of regular production Monday. But Ramanujam said it could take until the end of the week before the plant is back to full speed.
"We've got two engine plants on this site. So it'll take us a few days to get everything up and running and our assembly lines are back up and running. We also depend on parts suppliers getting up and running and back to us. So we're monitoring what they can do and adjusting our schedules accordingly," Ramanujam said.
Even though the new contract was approved nationally by 57 percent of UAW members, it was rejected by workers at the Tonawanda plant by a vote of 603-579. But Ramanujam says it was so close, it was a wash.
"So the mood on the floor is very positive, lots of good energy, people have been excited to be back to work. And you know, we build great engines here. And so they've seen the products out there, and they're like, 'come on let's get going.' So it's looking forward, building a stronger future together, and one team. So that's the themes that we've been talking about and that's what we've been hearing from the folks as well," Ramanujam said.
The UAW says the contract includes an $11,000 signing bonus for each member, a mix of annual raises and lump sum payments and no increase in health care costs. GM is closing three other plants around the nation.