Day Off Work: GM Workers Hit the Picket Line As UAW Strike Kicks Off

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
day off work gm workers hit the picket line as uaw strike kicks off

The battle line between General Motors and its unionized American workers takes the form of a picket stretching in front of numerous domestic plants and facilities, after the UAW launched its first strike against the company since 2007.

Strike action commenced a minute before midnight on Sunday, with roughly 49,000 workers walking off the job. In response, GM detailed exactly what it offered the union before contract talks broke down.

Though the collective agreement with GM workers expired Saturday night, UAW leadership waited until Sunday morning to decide the next step. Ultimately, it was a lack of progress on a myriad of issues that prompted the union’s general council to opt for a strike.

“The autoworkers are calling on the Big 3 automaker to recognize the contributions and sacrifices that the company’s UAW members have made to create a healthy, profitable, industry,” the UAW said in a statement. Ford and Fiat Chrysler bargaining units have decided to extend their deadlines as the GM team, first at bat in this latest round of contract talks, plays hardball.

The issues the UAW want movement on relate to wages, healthcare, job security, profit sharing, and “a defined path to permanent seniority” for temp workers. Not to be intimidated, though surely fearful of losses incurred by darkened production facilities, GM fired back, detailing what it had on the table.

“We presented a strong offer that improves wages, benefits and grows U.S. jobs in substantive ways and it is disappointing that the UAW leadership has chosen to strike at midnight tonight,” the automaker said in a statement. “We have negotiated in good faith and with a sense of urgency. Our goal remains to build a strong future for our employees and our business.”

GM claims it offered up $7 billion in investment over the four-year contract period, as well as the creation of 5,400 U.S. jobs. Among the tidbits were “solutions for unallocated assembly plants in Michigan and Ohio” (Detroit-Hamtramck and Lordstown Assembly), investments in eight facilities in four states, new vehicle and propulsion programs, and an “opportunity” for a unionized battery cell production site. Wage or lump sum payments would rise each year, it claimed, while workers would see “improved” profit sharing and the addition of “autism therapy care, chiropractic care and allergy testing” to their existing health coverage.

According to a source who spoke to Automotive News, GM’s offer would see the Detroit-Hamtramck facility, currently home to the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac CT6 and scheduled for closure in January 2020, give birth to the automaker’s upcoming electric pickup. Lordstown, which went dark earlier this year after building its last Chevrolet Cruze, would become a battery cell manufacturing site.

The UAW is picketing every GM Tech Center entrance and creating massive back ups for those trying to enter.

— Adam J. Tonge (@ajtonge40) September 16, 2019

[Image: General Motors]

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  • Millerluke Millerluke on Sep 17, 2019

    I hope the workers built up their savings - getting something like $250 a week to not work, versus probably $300/day while working is quite a pay cut. Really, all GM has to do is wait, what, 3 weeks? and the workers will want to come back, so they can afford groceries! I worked for a union once, that offered strike pay of $50/week - almost all the workers refused to strike, cause we couldn't afford it. With the UAW striking, how much you want to bet the union execs are still collecting their full wage...

  • HotPotato HotPotato on Sep 18, 2019

    Apparently the main thing is that when the union agreed to the two-tier wage system -- which is really three-tier because it also includes temps -- they thought it was a temporary measure to rescue the company. It's hard to maintain union solidarity when your buddy doesn't have the same benefits and pay as you because he was hired just a month later, and the next guy over makes half of what either of you do without benefits or job security.

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