UAW workers strike from General Motors

Stephon Johnson | 9/19/2019, 4:52 p.m.
The largest labor strike in over a decade began on Monday, Sept. 16. It involves America’s biggest carmaker.
UAW workers on strike Facebook photo

The largest labor strike in over a decade began on Monday, Sept. 16. It involves America’s biggest carmaker.

Members of United Auto Workers nationwide walked off their jobs at General Motors as the union engages in contract negotiations with the automobile giant.

“We stood up for General Motors when they needed us most,” stated UAW Vice President Terry Dittes. “Now we are standing together in unity and solidarity for our members, their families and the communities where we work and live.”

The union is asking for fair wages, affordable health care, a better share of the profits, better job security and defined path to permanent security for temp employees.

National Bargaining Committee Chair Ted Krumm of UAW Local 652 said that the union hasn’t wavered from the type of contract they want.

“We have been clear at the table about what GM members have indicated we will accept,” said Krumm in a statement. “We are standing up for what is right. We as local unions will sacrifice to stand up for what we deserve. Our members have spoken; we have taken action; and this is a decision we did not make lightly. We are committed to a strong contract at GM that recognizes our UAW members, who make some of the greatest products in the world and make GM so profitable.”

Other unions spoke up to show solidarity with UAW.

“The Michigan AFL-CIO and our one million active and retired members stand in solidarity with the UAW members on strike against GM in Michigan and across the country,” said Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber in a statement. “It is because of the hard work of these men and women that GM is alive today making record-breaking, multi-billion dollar profits. This strike isn’t only about pay and benefits, it’s about securing American jobs and protecting working families.”

In a joint statement, the American Federation of Teachers Michigan and the Michigan Education Association said, “Companies like GM would not be the flagship institutions that they are without the hard work of union members in Michigan across the country.”

During Barack Obama’s presidency, GM was one of several automobile companies to be bailed out by the government. According to a 2014 federal report, the government invested $50 billion to bail out GM after the company’s bankruptcy in 2009. President Donald Trump said that GM still owes the feds $11.2 billion from that investment.

In a statement, GM said their current offer should be enough to meet the union’s approval.

“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,” read GM’s 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.”

In a press release, GM said it offered a four-year contract with wage or lump sum increases each year, a ratification payment of $8,000, investments in facilities, a retention of health benefits and new coverage for autism therapy care, chiropractic care and allergy testing.

Trump took to social media to air out his grievances with both parties.

“Here we go again with General Motors and the United Auto Workers,” said Trump on Twitter. “Get together and make a deal!”

On the opposite end of the political spectrum, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown stood in solidarity with UAW members stating that a company making as much money as GM should be able to pay its workers the best wages.

“All workers have the right to stand up for fair wages, better working conditions, and increased investments for plants in their local communities, including communities like Lordstown who have been hurt by GM’s recent restructuring,” said Brown. “All they are asking for is their fair share now that times are good. I urge GM to agree to a contract that honors the Dignity of Work and that helps Ohio autoworkers, communities and families who all help drive the success of the auto industry in Ohio across the country.”