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General Dynamics-UAW.

Just hours past a strike deadline, negotiators for the Land Systems Division of General Dynamics and the United Automobile Workers (UAW) signed a 3-year collective bargaining agreement covering some 3,800 workers in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. (The Land Systems Division, based in the Detroit, MI, area, is a Defense contractor that makes armored vehicles, such as the M1A1 tank, for the U.S. Armed Forces.) The major issues in dispute was sharing of health care costs. Other important issues were wage increases (in lieu of lumps-sum payments), job security, early retirement programs, and supplemental unemployment benefits.

The agreement calls for general wage increases of 3 percent in June of 1991 and 1993; a lump-sum payment in July 1992 equal to 4 percent of an employee's gross earnings for the preceding year; an immediate $1,250 ratification bonus; and continuation of the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) clause, which provides for quarterly payments equal to 1 cent for each 0.3 point increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. (At the expiration of the prior contract, the average hourly wage reportedly was $14.57.)

Several changes were made in insurance and pension coverage. In the insurance area, the union reportedly successfully resisted the company's efforts to have workers pay 20 percent of their medical costs, deductibles of up to $300, and weekly contributions of up to $6. Enhancements in health, dental, and vision care included the addition of new hospital procedures, the inclusion of additional durable medical equipment and prosthetic and orthoptic equipment under the hospital and medical plan, a $200 increase over the term of the contract in the annual dental maximum (to $1,400) and in the lifetime maximum for orthodontia (to $1,325), the addition of several new maintenance drugs under the prescription drug program, improved coverage for hearing aid evaluation testing, and an increase in annual allowances for frames (from $17 to $35) and contact lenses (from $55 to $85). Improvements in the group insurance plans included a $4,000 increase in maximum life insurance benefits (to $39,000), a $50 increase (to $405) in the maximum weekly sickness and accident benefits, a $80 increase in the maximum monthly permanent total disability benefit (to $780), a $2,000 increase (to $19,500) in the maximum accidental death and dismemberment benefits, and a $170 increase (to $1,615) in the maximum monthly extended disability benefits.

In the retirement benefit area, the monthly pension rate for each year of credited service was increased by $4 over the term of the contract, to $26.25-$27. Early retirement benefits ("30-and-out") were increased over the term from $1,360 a month to $1,660. Temporary retirement benefits (payments to employees who retire before age 62, the normal retirement age under the contract) were increased over the term to $24 a month, up to $720 (for 30 years' service). Interim retirement supplements (payments to employees who retire with less than 30 years of service) were increased over the term to $9.25-$20 for each year of credited service, with the rate depending on the employee's age at retirement. Other pension enhancements include increased special survivor option payments, increased lump-sum payments for retirees and eligible spouses, and the removal of the earnings limitation for employees receiving early retirement supplements.

Other terms include a $1 million company payment to the supplemental unemployment benefits (SUB) fund in July 1991 (in addition, the full amount of the first COLA payment and 1 cent per hour of the remaining 11 COLA payments will be diverted to help strengthen the SUB fund); the folding-in to wages of $1.67 in COLA's earned under the prior contract; 42 paid holidays (previously, 40) over the term of the contract; a strengthening of job security, including doubling the required advance notice (to 48 hours) of a layoff and an expansion of seniority rights to allow employees to bid on work outside their "recognized labor market area" during layoffs; enhanced safety and health protection provisions, including increased union participation in the joint ergonomics program, an agreement to take "appropriate safety precuations" for employees working alone, and better identification of hazardous materials; the right to transfer within the same classification within a department; increased relocation allowances for employees moving due to a transfer of operations; increased tuition reimbursement for approved college courses (from $1,000 to $2,000 annually) and for job-related courses (from $500 to $1,000 annually); the inclusion of child and elder care under the 1-year unpaid leave of absence program; a strenthened grievance procedure; and improvements and expanded job and seniority protection for skilled trades workers.
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Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Sep 1, 1991
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