The UAW has agreed to contract concessions with GM that are broadly similar to the recently approved Ford deal.

However, union members will not get a chance to ratify the agreement until the UAW and GM finish negotiating a debt restructuring of the retiree health care trust, Cal Rapson, UAW vice president of the GM division, said in a note to local presidents and chairpersons.

The Detroit Free Press noted that the terms of GM's US$13.4bn federal loan require the automaker to push the union to accept half the money owed to the fund in company stock instead of cash. The automaker must also restructure its debt with bondholders.

"The tentative changes that we have made to the UAW GM National Agreement in the area of economics pattern the UAW Ford agreement," Rapson said. "However, other parts of the Ford agreement are drastically different."

The differences include "no mandatory physical examinations in the UAW GM agreement" and "with regard to employee placement," he said. "Other parts of the agreement are different to better fit the UAW GM culture."

The Ford deal includes a suspension in cost-of-living increases and reduced break time, among other concessions. Ford also will be able to partially fund the retiree health care trust with stock.