GM Strike Enters Fifth Week; UAW Boosts Strike Pay

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Few expected the labor action by U.S. General Motors workers to last this long, but no one expected reaching a collective agreement to be easy, either. As the the strike by UAW-affiliated GM workers enters its fifth week, picketing workers can expect an extra $25 a week from the union’s strike fund.

GM, on the other hand, can expect its dealers to face increased difficulty in sourcing certain replacement parts, while others worry about the prospect of subpar inventory.

As reported by CNN, the UAW’s bargaining team presented a new comprehensive offer to GM on Friday, with both sides engaged in talks through the weekend. Monday dawned with no word on any movement on the issue.

In addition to the marginally boosted strike pay, the UAW also lifted the cap on cash earned at outside jobs. Starting Sunday, workers moonlighting at other jobs can keep the full strike payment, regardless of what they made in their alternate gig. Strike payments are typically clawed back on a dollar-for-dollar basis after the worker passes the $250 threshold.

In a new tactic, striking workers might start leafletting GM dealers today, a source told CNN.

In addition to a host of other issues, health care sits near the top of UAW concerns in this latest round of bargaining. With GM and other Detroit Three automakers looking to slim down in an era of shrinking auto sales and economic uncertainty, offering generous health benefits represents a major cost to each company. None more so than Ford, which employs the most hourly workers of the three.

As reported by the Detroit Free Press, an agreement reached between GM and the UAW that keeps the previous health care arrangement intact would have financial repercussions for Ford. Too keep an agreement where workers cover just 3 percent of their health care costs — an agreement GM briefly abandoned earlier in the bargaining process — the automakers would undoubtedly seek concessions in other areas. Unions are not prone to accept concessions lightly.

Indeed, in its last letter to members (dated October 4th), UAW Vice President Terry Dittes said “we have made good progress regarding the issues of health care and a path for temporary employees becoming seniority members.” That was 10 days ago.

Whatever deal the bargaining teams of GM and UAW reach, Ford and Fiat Chrysler will be compelled to offer a contract agreement that matches certain key elements of the GM pact. Health care is one of those elements.

“We are focused on reaching a fair agreement with the UAW that allows Ford to be more competitive so we can continue to preserve and protect good-paying manufacturing jobs and maintain our track record of investing in our U.S. plants,” said Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker in response to a Freep inquiry about the likelihood of keeping the health care status quo.

[Image: General Motors]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

More by Steph Willems

Join the conversation
2 of 19 comments
  • Jeff S Jeff S on Oct 14, 2019

    I doubt GM will settle anytime soon and as for Barra doing anything that is good for GM that is doubtful more likely doing what is good for her and the board. GM will eventually become more Chinese and with that it will not have to deal with unions. Wouldn't surprise me if GM became a totally owned Chinese corporation. As for Trump supporting unions that is not at all true it is more that he is campaigning on keeping more jobs in the US--there is nothing said about union jobs just more US jobs. Less and less people are affected by auto strikes or really any union strikes not like they were 30 to 40 years ago and GM knows this.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Oct 14, 2019

    @Buickman--I am in the process of buying a 2012 Lacrosse with 45k miles which is immaculate inside and outside for 11k from my neighbor. Just signed the title over on my 99 S-10 to my nephew a truck that I have had for 20 1/2 years which still looks and runs like new.

  • ToolGuy Honda is dreaming. And resting on its 'laurels' (French for 'posterior').
  • SCE to AUX Here's some advice - slow down. That's a great way to arrive home safely, without a ticket, with lower blood pressure, and more economically.
  • Dartdude They need to rebrand the models, The standard model should be Wagoneer and long version should be Grand Wagoneer. There should offer the Ram Rev powertrain in these
  • Irvingklaws Seems more like they're adopting Honda styling queues. Now if they would just adopt their reliability...
  • FreedMike "Obsidian Edition."Oooooh, obsidian is really, really hard stuff.