UAW workers strike at GM plants over contract negotiations for pay, plant closures

September 16, 2019

Tens of thousands of union auto workers at General Motors plants went on strike Monday, the latest salvo in ongoing negotiations between union officials and management for a new contract.

At issue between the two sides are pay for workers, health-care costs, added jobs, and productivity. It's the first United Auto Workers strike at GM's plants since 2007, before the automaker was mired in a global recession and was forced to declare bankruptcy. Since that bankruptcy and bailout, the resurgence of GM has been predicated on truck and SUV sales across the globe. Last year, the automaker recorded profits of $8.1 billion after taxes, but announced that it would idle three plants in North America including Lordstown, Ohio, Detroit, and Oshawa, Ontario. Two additional assembly facilities are slated to close in Baltimore and another in Michigan.

Workers at GM plants walked out Monday after their contract expired Saturday.

“We stood up for General Motors when they needed us most. Now we are standing together in unity and solidarity for (UAW workers), their families and the communities where we work and live,” UAW Vice President Terry Dittes said in a statement.

“We presented a strong offer that improves wages, benefits and grows U.S. jobs in substantive ways and it is disappointing that the UAW leadership has chosen to strike... 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 said in a statement.

GM outlined its offer to the UAW, but didn't disclose many details. Included in GM's offer were "solutions for unallocated assembly plants in Michigan and Ohio," a revised profit-sharing plan, and lump-sum payment for ratification, among other concessions.

In 2007, GM settled with workers after two days of strikes. A national walkout for UAW workers is relatively rare; before 2007 the last nationwide strike was in 1970.

The UAW represents auto workers at Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobile plants, although those workers are not on strike. The UAW said this year it would negotiate first with GM before bargaining with Ford and FCA.

It's not clear if the strike will affect car sales, although it's unlikely that shoppers will see any tangible affect in the near-term.

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