General Motors Co. made a counteroffer to the United Auto Workers union, proposing a total 16 per cent pay raise for the top wage earners in its plants and a 56 per cent hike for newer employees who make less, the company said in a statement. UAW President Shawn Fain reacted quickly saying the proposal is “insulting.”

The pay raise is slightly higher than what rival Ford Motor Co. offered the union, but is still well short of the 46 per cent raise that would result from the UAW’s opening bid. GM also included US$11,000 in inflation protection payments, a shortened period to the top wage and better pay for temporary staff.

GM made the offer with a week to go before the union’s contract with the automaker and rivals Ford and Stellantis NV expires and all companies far apart from Fain’s opening proposal. In addition to a much bigger raise, Fain wants to reinstate guaranteed pensions, cost-of-living allowances and retiree healthcare.

“After refusing to bargain in good faith for the past six weeks, only after having federal labour board charges filed against them, GM has come to the table with an insulting proposal that doesn’t come close to an equitable agreement for America’s autoworkers,” Fain said in a statement. “GM either doesn’t care or isn’t listening when we say we need economic justice. The clock is ticking. Stop wasting our members’ time. Tick tock.”

The GM offer is slightly better than Ford’s proposal, which Fain rejected and said, “insults our very worth.”

The GM and Ford offers do not include retiree benefits, which went away in 2007 for new hires. Workers hired after 2006 get 401K plans.

Fain’s initial proposal brought back retiree benefits, which are a big piece of the added expense for labour that automakers believe would drive up costs by $80 billion over four years. 

GM’s offered to give inflation protection with a $6,000 one-time payment and another $5,000 over the life of the agreement. That’s $1,000 less in total than Ford offered.

Both companies give entry-level workers the top wage of about $32 an hour after six years. GM’s offer would get them to a minimum of $28 after four years. GM also offered to recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday. 

GM shares were down 1 per cent at 12:39 p.m. Thursday in New York.