UAW-GM strike: General Motors reinstates health care for striking workers as negotiations intensify
DETROIT – General Motors has reinstated health care benefits for striking United Autoworkers (UAW) members as the second week of the union's strike against GM continues.
On Thursday, GM said the company would resume health care coverage for striking UAW members, reversing a decision made earlier in the strike that kicked heath care costs to the union.
Initially, striking workers were forced to get COBRA health insurance coverage -- a move union officials said put lives in danger.
- GM moves striking UAW members to COBRA healthcare coverage
- Health care switch catches some striking workers off guard
- Plight of temporary workers, rising health care costs top list of concerns for UAW members
COBRA stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. It is available under a federal law that may allow you to temporarily keep health coverage after your employment ends, you lose coverage as a dependent of the covered employee or another qualifying event.
Thursday marks the 11th day since union leaders decided to initiate a national strike on Sept. 15 against the automaker.
Many believe GM's decision is a sign a deal could be reached soon. Negotiations are still on the table, but they aren't going all night.
In a statement released Thursday, GM said the company "has chosen to work with our providers to keep all benefits fully in place for striking hourly employees, so they have no disruption to their medical care, including vision, prescription and dental coverage.
UAW Local 163 strike captain Reuben Lewis took GM's move in stride.
"It's part of how it goes, but they didn't have to do it," Lewis said. "They did it to show a disservice to us."
UAW Vice President and Director Terry Dittes said he was furious when it happened and he's still angry. He said GM's actions were irresponsible and shameful. In a statement released Thursday morning, he said GM was toying with the lives of thousands of UAW families.
Center for Automotive Research analyst Kristin Dzidzek said she saw GM's decision as a positive step forward.
"To me, that's a signal that this may get to a tentative agreement in days, not weeks," Dzidzek said.
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