Leaders of the United Auto Workers union initiated a strike Sunday against General Motors as contract negotiations went beyond a weekend deadline.
On Tuesday, GM moved all striking union members to COBRA health insurance coverage.
The strike has reached day four, and the escalating conflict between the UAW and GM has started to settle. Both sides have been negotiating since 8 a.m., but there's no word of any potential breakthroughs that could get workers back on the job.
The supplier network is starting to get anxious as time drags on.
Picket lines remain in front of all the several dozen UAW-GM facilities nationwide. GM's losses have run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Pressure is building for a deal.
Labor relations expert Dr. Arthur Schwartz said in situations like this -- in a strike where even the union admits it didn't have to happen -- getting a deal becomes more difficult.
"Well, it's very easy, take people out on strike and tell them to go out on strike," Schwartz said. "It's a lot harder to bring them back, and that's because expectations go up."
Center for Automotive Research analyst Kristin Dziczek believes a better deal is going to be tough to reach and will take a while.
"All of the issues are economic," Dziczek said.
GM laid off 1,200 line workers at its Oshawa Car Assembly in Ontario because it depends on parts from the U.S. and the parts supply dried up. The plant continued to build Thursday, but Local 4 has been told it may run out of parts soon.
UAW officials said layoffs could be coming to Nexteer Automotive plants in Saginaw.
A statement from UAW Vice President Terry Dittes was released Thursday afternoon. It can be read below.
"Today we enter the 4th day of our National Strike with General Motors. I can report to you that as of today, some progress has been made, but there are still many of our Memberships' issues that remain unresolved. Your elected Bargaining Committee and the UAW International Staff have been working long hours each day for weeks negotiating on our Members' behalf. The process of meeting in subcommittees and main tables will continue this weekend and beyond, if a Tentative Agreement is not reached.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you and the entire Membership for their loyal and passionate support as we take on their most crucial issues in this set of negotiations. It is the hard work, craftsmanship and dedication of our Members that has put General Motors in the position to become most profitable Auto Company in the U.S. and do not ever forget that!
This strike is for all the right reasons: to raise the standard of living of our Members and their families and for workers across this country, to achieve true job security, our fair share of the profits, affordable health care and a path to permanent seniority for temporary members.
On behalf of the entire staff of the UAW General Motors Department, 'it is an honor to represent our Members and their families.'"
Here are the key points:
- The United Auto Workers announced a national strike against General Motors that began Sunday at 11:59 p.m.
- Nearly 50,000 workers at GM plants across the country are involved.
- GM is expected to lose $250 million a day.
- UAW members who show up at the picket line will get $250 a week.
- It is the UAW’s first nationwide strike since 2007.
- As of Thursday, union workers had shut down 33 manufacturing plants in nine states and 22 parts distribution warehouses.
- Workers are on strike to secure:
- Fair wages
- Affordable healthcare
- Their share of profits
- Job security
- A defined path to permanent seniority for temps
- Representatives from GM and UAW have been meeting for contract negotiations since July. GM workers’ contracts expired at midnight on Saturday with no agreement reached.
- UAW said the strike is a “last resort.”
- UAW Vice President Terry Dittes: “We are standing up for fair wages, we are standing up for affordable quality health care, we are standing up for our share of the profits. We are standing up for job security for our members and their families.”
- GM released a statement Sunday morning saying it offered the union more than $7 billion in investments, including the creation of 5,400 jobs and increased base wages and benefits.
- “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.”
GM moves striking UAW members to COBRA healthcare coverage [article]
- On Tuesday, GM moved all striking union members to COBRA health insurance coverage.
- 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.
A record number of US workers went on strike in 2018 [article]
- 485,000 employees were involved in major work stoppages last year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- This is the highest number since 1986.
- Public school teachers were behind the year’s largest walkouts.
- Teachers in Arizona, Oklahoma and West Virginia protested cuts to education funding.
- West Virginia and Oklahoma ranked 48th and 49th, respectively, for average teacher salary in the US.
- Marriott employees in four states refused to work until the company agreed to give them a raise and increase their benefits, in the largest hotel strike in US history.
Local 4 and ClickOnDetroit will be following this developing story -- follow live updates on the strike here:
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