Published: Tue, September 17, 2019
Health Care | By Harold Elliott

Nearly 50,000 General Motors workers go on strike over union contract dispute

Nearly 50,000 General Motors workers go on strike over union contract dispute

As 49,000 United Auto Workers in the US strike against General Motors, there's a risk the walkout could shut down GM Canada's plants and auto-parts makers in Ontario. The workers want fair wages, affordable healthcare, a share of GM's profits, and job security-something they say GM has not given them.

General Motors says it presented what it believes was a strong offer including improved wages and benefits and investments in eight facilities in four states.

Roughly 49,000 workers at General Motors plants in the US planned to strike just before midnight Sunday, but talks between the UAW and the automaker will resume.

The deal with General Motors will set a template for upcoming contract negotiations with Ford and Fiat Chrysler. GM has also offered an $8,000 payment to each worker once the new contract is ratified. It was the first national strike by the UAW since a two-day walkout in 2007.

Auto analysts say the mistrust of UAW top officials could make auto workers a harder sell on a final contract.

If the strike commences, about 2,000 Teamsters will refuse to transport GM vehicles to dealerships in a move of solidarity with UAW, said Bret Caldwell, a spokesman for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Approximately 49,000 GM workers in the United States have vowed to strike Sunday just before midnight. "It's for the pay and benefits, all the things we strive for as the American people", said Local 774 President J.R. Baker.

On the majority of issues, UAW and GM are not even close to getting an agreement.

Moen said his company had stockpiled some parts meant for GM and diversified its customer base to get through any strike.

This year's talks between the union and GM were tense from the start, largely because of GM's plan to close four USA factories, including the one on the Detroit border with the enclave of Hamtramck, as well as Lordstown and factories in Warren, Mich., and near Baltimore. "It seems they are pretty far apart", said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of the labour and economics group at the Centre for Automotive Research. "Someone will be here 24-7", said GM worker Arthur Espinoza.

Trump on Sunday took to Twitter to urge the UAW and GM to "get together and make a deal!"

However, it remains unclear if the two sides had plans for further negotiations.

Embattled UAW President Gary Jones did not announce the strike, nor did he speak with the media. Jones himself has been touched by the investigation, leading some union members to call for him to step down, but he hasn't been charged. The union wants to limit GM's use of temporary workers in its plants, and narrow the pay gap between new hires and veteran workers. Presstran and Formet supply GM plants in the U.S. The company showed a pre-tax profit of $10.8 billion in 2018, which down slightly from 2017 figures, but still enough for GM workers to receive a healthy profit-sharing check. Union members working Sunday were to report as scheduled.

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