By on September 18, 2019

Image: GM

The United Auto Workers and General Motors are seeking to repair their fractured relationship, sitting down for talks as the union’s strike against its first bargaining partner enters its third day. Workers walked off the job at the automaker’s numerous U.S. plants at midnight Sunday, with the UAW complaining that a last-minute offer should have been put on the table far earlier.

As reported before, health coverage played a big role in the failure to secure a contract agreement before the midnight deadline. GM ultimately retracted the offer, but it was too late to hammer something out. As talks continue in the background, both sides are wrestling for control of the public’s sympathies.

In a tweet, GM said its “goal remains to reach an agreement that builds a stronger future for everyone,” bemoaning the work stoppage’s impact on families and the economy. As you’d expect, the UAW’s take is that GM’s healthy profits aren’t trickling down to the men and women who make that black ink possible.

“We stood up for General Motors when they needed us most. Now we need GM to stand with us and invest in the healthcare we deserve,” the union stated in a tweet of its own. “Working in the plant takes a toll on our bodies, so quality healthcare and affordable prescriptions are an investment in us!”

The automaker had originally proposed that UAW workers pay 15 percent of their health costs, up from 3 or 4 percent, before having a change of heart. UAW rep Jason Kaplantold FOX Business Wednesday that the cutting of workers’ healthcare coverage during the strike (a tab picked up by the union’s strike fund) was a tactic to draw “unfair concessions” from its bargaining partner. The move is standard operating procedure during a strike, GM countered.

While roughly 49,000 GM workers are making themselves heard on the picket line (and making access to other GM sites a hassle), Fiat Chrysler workers have shown up in their off hours. Cindy Estrada, UAW’s vice president and head of its FCA department, gave a shout-out to members from GM’s rival who are “standing up to corporate greed.”

In response, GM set up a webpage showing its effort to employ Americans, slathering the page in varying shades of blue. Blue… collar. Get it? It’s also the color of the party whose presidential candidates fell over each other on social media to be first to cheer the striking workers.

Of course, besides healthcare, GM workers demand assurances from their employer about another pressing issue: job security. Lordstown Assembly went dark earlier this year, with Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly scheduled to do the same in January. No worker wants this to happen. While GM did make an offer to utilize those plants, stating before talks broke off that it would use Detroit-Hamtramck for a future electric pickup and Lordstown for battery cell production (while still entertaining offers for the space), it’s unlikely those products would boast enough volume and manpower to employ the full complement of workers displaced by last November’s plant cull announcement.

The talks continue.

[Image: General Motors]

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26 Comments on “The Union vs the General: Battle Continues As Strike Hits Day Three...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “The automaker had originally proposed that UAW workers pay 15 percent of their health costs, up from 3 or 4 percent”

    Yeah, well, 15% is generous. I’ve been paying a higher percentage than that for over 20 years.

    As for job security – not gonna happen.

    Time to join reality, folks. This isn’t the 60s anymore.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    GM should offer them a healthcare plan like most non union, non government workers in the U.S. have. Massive deductibles and out of pocket expenses with a massive monthly charge for it. They don’t deserve Rolls Royce health care when most of use have Chevy health care. I understand the jobs have hard and boring, but so what.They still are well paid and have great benefits.

    • 0 avatar
      honda1

      Yes sir, zero pitty, time for them to live in the real world.

    • 0 avatar
      Len_A

      Time for you guys to go try their jobs. You wouldn’t last half a shift. When GM & Chrysler filed for bankruptcy, and renegotiated the contract, all the jobs that higher seniority blue collar would usually move into, like material handling, part crib attendant, purchasing clerk, shipping & receiving, janitorial, etc, were eliminated and contracted out. The result is that now we have people with over twenty years with the Big Three, working jobs that are physically repetitious to the point of repetitive motion injury. I have neighbors in their early fifties, even late forties, forced to take a disability retirement and find other work, that the cause of their retirement, more-often-than-not, prevents them from either starting something new or lasting very long in it..

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Yeah, screwing cars together is so much easier than the 2.5 years I have downrange doing Route Clearance Patrols finding (and getting found by ) IEDs and occasionally kicking in a door. Nothing could possibly be as difficult as screwing a car together. Never mind people on occasion do it for fun in their garage. Give me a freaking break.

        Anyway, I didn’t care for that sort of work so I got some skills and got out of it. If it is so freaking hard I’d advise them to do the same.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        Len_A,

        Agreed, non-auto workers should get to try a line job for a week.

        Further, UAW line workers should try a line job for a week at a non-UAW plant.

        Both would be eye-opening experiences. (And yes you should line up a chiropractor and/or physical therapist first.)

  • avatar
    Rick Astley

    “We stood up for General Motors when they needed us most. Now we need GM to stand with us and invest in the healthcare we deserve,”

    Mmmmmmmm, I think it could more accurately be worded as “We were equally culpable in making GM unsustainable and induced as much pressure as possible to extort legacy costs vastly in excess of any other industry in the world while skimming dues from our members for personal benefit. We happily stood with GM during the farce of 3-day bankruptcy while the financial burden was shifted to the taxpayer and we all got off scott free”

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Didn’t the UAW (and other unions) all heavily promote and support Obamacare? Why aren’t they pushing their membership to sign up for the program they supported, where they can keep their doctor and save $2500 a year on premiums. And since the UAW is definitely supporting one of the 34 Democrat candidates for President, most of whom are advocating “Medicare for all”, why should they care at all about health benefits they receive from GM, when healthcare from Uncle Sam (or Aunt Liz) is just around the corner?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Bankruptcy is around the corner.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      The premiums for my employee health plan (company is self-insured, using BCBS PPO as third-party administrator) started going up 18, 20, then 25 percent a year as soon as the ACA kicked in, so I was forced to switch to the BCBS PPO high-deductible plan. Deductibles went from $300 individual/$600 family, to $1500 individual/$3000 family, and out-of pocket maximum went from $1250 individual/$2500 family, to $3000 individual/$6000 family. Gulp.

      But, claims are still relatively hassle-free. I love the plan, just not the costs.

    • 0 avatar
      Rick T.

      And if I recall correctly, there was supposed to be a tax imposed on generous plans such as the UAW have but never went into effect?

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        @Rick,

        That is correct. The infamous “Cadillac tax”. An uncommonly sensible idea.

        Delayed endlessly and finally cancelled due to opposition from both parties: Republicans who are reflexively opposed to anything called a “tax” no matter what or who it affects, and who don’t want to be seen doing anything that might be construed as propping up the bogeyman ACA, and Democrats who feel the need to kiss the rings of union bosses who represent some tiny fraction of their voters vs the rest of the country who end up paying for the union health plans in the long run.

    • 0 avatar
      honda1

      You win post of the day award!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “GM set up a webpage showing its effort to employ Americans”

    Guangzhou – Guadalajara Motors employs Americans?

    “In fact, GM now employs more workers in China than it does members of the United Auto Workers in the U.S. According to its website, the company now has about 58,000 workers in China — that’s about 20% more than its domestic UAW workforce, which has dwindled in recent years.”

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/gm-now-employs-more-workers-in-china-than-in-the-u-s/

    I know its a subdomain but someone please hack it and put in a link to the news article.

    buildingastrongerfuture.gm.com/product/public/us/en/buildingastrongerfuture/home.html

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Yeah, I’m kinda asking for a meteor here, not picking sides.

      GM sucks and should have gone bankrupt, and I wouldn’t trust the UAW to tell me what color the sky is.

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    GM middle to upper level executives are clowns, con artist, and liars; and that is what they are competent at. Running the business: they are NOT. I have to side with the UAW on this one.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “Home of the Cruze”? Yeah, I’d take that down, too.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    “…both sides are wrestling for control of the public’s sympathies.”

    Well then that is a fail. I don’t really care about either side. It is 2019, both sides honestly have it better than most.

  • avatar
    cprescott

    It is laughable for the UAW to say they gave up anything during the bankruptcy era of Government Motors. You see, the truth is that these union thugs were given preferential treatment by the Obama administration ahead of bond and shareholders and the UAW retirement area was made nearly whole. This was an outrageous action that should not have been allowed – the people with skin in the game, the bond and shareholders should always have had their place in getting their share of the money from the bankrupt company. The union had no such legal claim EVER.

    And now the union is whining. I hope they drive this company into the ground for good.

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