Herman Praises Tentative GM Settlement
Labor secretary says government's behind-the-scenes role was 'appropriate'
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, July 28) -- Labor Secretary Alexis Herman praised the tentative agreement reached Tuesday to end the bitter 54-day General Motors strikes, and said her "behind-the-scenes" involvement was the appropriate role for the federal government in the dispute.
A pact between General Motors Corp. and the United Auto Workers
was reached Tuesday to end protracted strikes at two parts plants that have paralyzed GM car and truck production. The deal still needs to be ratified by the union's members.
"I was very involved with these negotiations behind the scenes. And I think it was the appropriate role for the government to play," Herman said at a press conference late Tuesday afternoon.
"I believe the role of the federal government in this instance was to ensure that they continued talking, that they continued to work through their differences and to make sure that we acted not only as an honest-broker in the process but also an active listener," Herman said.
The Labor secretary praised negotiators on both sides for staying at the table during the difficult talks and for negotiating in good faith. "I need not tell you that the collective bargaining process is not a pretty process," she said.
"Obviously this strike was hard on the workers and their families, it was hard on the communities that were impacted, it was hard on the company. But in the end the collective bargaining process does work," she said.
In a statement released Wednesday, President Bill Clinton called the tentative agreement a "win-win" solution for workers and the automaker. The negotiations showed "American companies can remain competitive ... while providing good jobs and good benefits for their employees," according to Clinton.
Clinton also thanked Herman, saying she and her team worked "night and day behind the scenes" to keep both sides negotiating. He echoed Herman's comment that the GM agreement shows "that the collective bargaining process works."
The twin strikes at Flint, Mich. parts plants brought GM's North
American operations to a standstill. The cost of the strike is estimated at $2.2 billion for GM. In addition to the 9,200 strikers, about 189,700 GM employees in North America have been idled by the strikes.
UAW members at the Flint Metals Center walked out on June 5. They were soon joined by workers at the Delphi East plant on June 11.