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UAW-GM strike: 50,000 union workers walk off jobs across country

GM workers walk out over wages, idled plants

DETROIT – About 50,000 union workers walked off the job at General Motors plants and warehouses across the country as part of a strike over wages and idled plants.

  • The UAW strike against GM began at 11:59 p.m. Sunday. Picket lines have formed outside of plants Monday morning.
  • The UAW says its roughly 50,000 members would be on strike. 
  • Workers have shut down 33 manufacturing plants in nine states and 22 parts distribution warehouses.
  • UAW members who show up at the picket line will get $250 a week.
  • As of Sunday morning, 850 employees across Michigan and Ohio had already walked off the job.
  • The UAW said workers are striking to secure fair wages, affordable healthcare, their share of profits, job security and a defined path to permanent seniority for temp workers.
  • GM said it presented "a strong offer that improves wages, benefits and grows U.S. jobs in substantive ways"

Workers have shut down 33 manufacturing plants in nine states across the United States, as well as 22 parts distribution warehouses.

Officials said there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

On Sunday, during the buildup to the walkout, there was deep concern. But Monday morning, both parties are back at the bargaining table at the Renaissance Center in Downtown Detroit.

Workers form a picket line outside GM's Hamtramck Assembly plant on Sept. 16, 2019. (WDIV)

UAW and GM officials got back to business around 10 a.m. Monday.

GM officials talked about the offer they made just before the deadline Saturday night. The offer included $8,000 signing bonuses, annual bonuses for workers and health care that would remain largely the same as before.

Now, that's what officials are talking about Monday while workers picket. Workers said they're glad to be on the picket lines so they can get the company's attention.

"We're passionate about what we're doing," Matthew Coleman said. "We don't -- nobody wants a strike. But if you force our hand by trying to take away what's ours, we've got to strike. We don't have any other choice."

"I believe there is power in numbers and that our movement will be felt and maybe they'll take us more serious on what we need," Sierra Tucker said.

Local 4 is hearing from UAW and GM officials that there's a mood with the new offer that there's a lot of ground being covered.

Only 2 percent of what would amount to a large book of contracts had been settled as of Saturday night, Local 4 learned. With the new offer, there's a belief officials can quickly accelerate the pace, Local 4 has learned.

Officials have already started working. They haven't yet said they're going to go 24/7, but they're at least willing to do so, officials said.

Workers form a picket line outside GM's Hamtramck Assembly plant on Sept. 16, 2019. (WDIV)

UAW says GM should have made latest offer sooner

A top United Auto Workers official is telling General Motors that if the company had made its latest offer earlier, the union may not have gone on strike.

The letter from UAW Vice President Terry Dittes (DIT-ez) to GM's chief bargainer says the company waited to make the offer until two hours before the contract expired Friday night. He says it would have been possible to reach an agreement and avoid a strike if the company moved sooner.

Union demands

Workers are going on strike to secure:

•    Fair Wages
•    Affordable Healthcare
•    Our Share of Profits
•    Job Security
•    A Defined Path to Permanent Seniority for Temps

The decision to strike comes a day after UAW Vice President Terry Dittes notified General Motors leadership that the Union would not agree to extend the Collective Bargaining Agreements.

"We have been clear at the table about what GM members have indicated we will accept. We are standing up for what is right. We as local unions will sacrifice to stand up for what we deserve," said National Bargaining Committee Chair Ted Krumm of UAW Local 652.  

"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."

Workers form a picket line outside GM's Hamtramck Assembly plant on Sept. 16, 2019. (WDIV)

Ford, FCA contracts extended

The UAW said Friday that it was allowing its contracts with Ford and FCA to extend past the Saturday night deadline while the union focused on bargaining with GM. The UAW had announced earlier this month that GM would be the focus of bargaining. 

Ford and FCA union leaders will wait to see what kind of deal comes out of the GM bargaining.

View: Letter from Terry Dittes the VP and director of UAW General Motors Department

Previous coverage

Local 4 and ClickOnDetroit will be following this developing story.


About the Authors:

Derick Hutchinson

Derick Hutchinson is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in communications and a focus in journalism. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.