Day 21 of UAW-GM strike

Union makes 'good progress' in health care, temp employee talks with GM

DETROIT – After negotiations ended with no deal Saturday night, the United Auto Workers strike against General Motors is entering its fourth week.

Sunday marks the 21st day since union members walked off the job. Talks will resume Sunday. Meanwhile, the UAW confirms a regional director charged in a corruption probe has been placed on leave.

Region 5 Director Vance Pearson faces charges of embezzlement and wire fraud. The UAW's statement in response noted its first duty is to act in the best interests of its more than 400,000 members.

The UAW reported good progress on two key issues recently. The UAW said it made "good progress" on the issues of health care and temporary workers.

There's still work to be done on wages, job security, skilled trades and pensions. 

Progress made on negotiations: 

The United Automobile Workers union said Friday it has made "good progress" regarding health care issues and temporary employee discussions with General Motors.

Below is the full letter from Terry Dittes, the vice president and director of the UAW GM Department:

"Since the last update, we have made good progress regarding the issues of health care and
a path for temporary employees becoming seniority members.

"We still have several of your proposals outstanding and unsettled like wages, job security,
skilled trades and pension .

"The staff and your elected Bargaining Committee from both hourly and salary have been
working long hours and aggressively addressing your needs. We will continue to work over
the weekend in an attempt to reach a Tentative Agreement on behalf of you and your families.

"Thank you for standing strong and making sacrifices for the good of all."

The UAW and GM could reach a tentative agreement any day that would end the ongoing strike.

Union leaders decided to initiate a national strike Sunday, Sept. 15, against the automaker. By the next day, nearly 50,000 union members had stopped reporting to work. 

Friday marked the 19th day since the strike started. As of Monday, members on the picket line now qualify for strike pay -- that's $250 per week. The Associated Press reports GM offered striking union members wage increases or lump-sum payments in all four years of a proposed contract.

Several reports say union leaders have discussed staging a no confidence vote in GM CEO Mary Barra.

Proposal did not 'satisfy demands, needs'

On Tuesday, Oct. 1, Vice President and Director of the UAW General Motors Department Terry Dittes said GM passed a comprehensive proposal at 9:40 p.m. on Monday. That proposal did not "satisfy your contract demands or needs," according to the statement.

"This proposal that the Company provided to us on day 15 of the strike did not satisfy your contract demands or needs. There were many areas that came up short like health care, wages, temporary employees, skilled trades and job security to name a few.  Additionally, concessionary proposals still remain in the company's proposals as of late last night," reads a statement from Dittes.

Last weekend, things seemed to be moving forward on negotiations between General Motors and the UAW. Sources said "good progress" was made last Saturday between the union and GM. A second week passed, however, without any tentative deal. Talks between the two parties have centered around wages, profit-sharing and a faster route to full-time wages. One of the top sticking points seems to be the use of temporary workers.

Last week, UAW Vice President and Director Terry Dittes said in a statement that "all unsettled proposals are now at the Main Table and have been presented to General Motors, and we are awaiting their response."


UAW-Ford negotiations

UAW officials provided an update Thursday, Oct. 3 on negotiations with Ford.

Here is the full update:

"We have made significant progress in this set of negotiations since I last updated you on Wednesday, September 18, 2019. At this time, we now have 18 out of 20 subcommittees that have reached tentative agreements or have negotiated to the point that only patterned or large economic items remain open for discussion.

"We will continue to meet diligently on all outstanding subcommittee issues. Please understand that negotiations are very fluid and is constantly in a state of flux. Therefore, we are unable during the negotiation process to disclose items being negotiated in detail. What I can report for now is that UAW-Ford negotiations are progressing very well.

"By utilizing the core UAW principal of Pattern Bargaining, our members have the best chance to procure strong collective bargaining agreements for all three companies. However, on occasion Pattern Bargaining will delay the non-target companies bargaining timeline.

"While the UAW-GM bargaining team continue to set the pattern by negotiating first, we remain ready and able to complete our negotiations when called upon. We are currently developing a plan to deliver a transparent and factual tentative agreement roll out so all members can make an important and much valued ratification decision. Thank you for continuing your support for our brothers and sisters at GM. The efforts of our UAW- Ford Locals and UAW Regions in regard to the strike has been outstanding. Please continue this invaluable show of solidarity."

GM health care announcement

On Sept, 26, GM released a statement explaining it had reinstated health care benefits for striking workers. That was a sharp turn from what was announced more than a week earlier. On Sept. 17, GM had announced it moved all striking UAW union members to COBRA health insurance coverage.

The automaker, however, released a statement on Thursday explaining there was "confusion" and that it has "chosen to work with our providers to keep all benefits fully in place for striking hourly employees."

Read the union's response here.

Sunday, Sept. 22,  was called a "Day of Solidarity," an event where all union members were encouraged to walk the picket line. Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, protested with workers at the GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant, expressing solidarity with them. 

Similar Solidarity protests were held around the country that weekend in support of GM workers and members of the United Auto Workers. 

Union demands

The UAW said workers are striking to secure:

  • Fair wages
  • Affordable healthcare
  • Their share of profits
  • Job security
  • 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."

Overall, union workers have shut down 33 manufacturing plants in nine states and 22 parts distribution warehouses. Negotiations between the two parties have been underway all week, but it's unclear when a new deal could be reached and when the strike will end.

Work has idled a GM engine facility in Saint Catherine's, Ontario due to a parts shortage. Workers at the Oshawa Ontario Truck Plant were laid off last week due to a parts shortage.

Aramark workers strike

UAW members also initiated a strike against Aramark in Michigan and Ohio. About 850 union workers went on strike against Armark the day before the UAW-GM strike started.

"We have UAW members who work long, hard hours and are still on public assistance," said Gerald Kariem, Director of UAW Region 1D. "It's shameful."

Aramark maintenance workers in Hamtramck, Warren, Flint, Grand Blanc and Parma, Ohio have been working on an extended contract since March of 2018, the UAW said.

Key issues involve wages, caps on health insurance, vacation time and 401k retirement.

"Every day, UAW members go to work and keep these plants profitable," said UAW Region 1 Director Frank Stuglin. "It's astounding that Aramark has not agreed to bargain in good faith over their contributions."

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