By Alec Wilson
On Sept. 16, 2019, 49,000 or more workers at General Motors (GM) went on strike. The purpose behind the strike is because of the new contract’s failure to appease the United Automobile Workers (UAW). Because of the failure to establish the new contract, the workers have listed specifically what they want to be put in the contract.
The new benefits the UAW want are reduced healthcare costs, temporary workers to become permanent workers, pay raises, better pay for new hires and the prevention of four plant closures.
On Sept. 30, 2019, the work halt cost a car manufacturing plant in Detroit almost $100 million per day. The protesting workers also received a strike pay of $250 per week, an exponential decrease from their normal pay of around $920 from regular working hours. UAW President Wiley Turnage says that the strike is “for a good cause and people understand we have to remain committed to get a good contract.”
By the 8th of October, the work stoppage had led corporate to “temporarily” lay off around 12 thousand workers. Three days later, GM tried sweetening the deal by offering to invest $7.7 billion directly toward the company.
GM stated that the deal would be beneficial for both sides and would help put an end to the four week long strike. Gerald Johnson, executive VP of GM, said the proposal takes care of multiple concerns stated by the UAW, including healthcare costs and job security for current temporary workers.
The struggle to come to an agreement came to an end on Oct. 15th when CEO Mary Barra and GM President Mark Reuss met with President Gary Jones and GM negotiator Terry Dittes. Unfortunately, the strikers were not able to vote on it until the 175 union leaders met in Detroit to approve the agreement. However, even after it was approved, the workers still needed to vote yes to end the five week strike.
By Oct. 23rd, the results of the voting showed the UAW protesters to be split nearly half and half. One factory in Spring Hill, Tenn. had their UAW members voting a near split of 51% yes and 49% no. Even if the workers were to get the benefits they wanted, three plants would be closed down.
Several UAW workers want GM to get rid of productions in Mexico instead, but GM refused to give in to their demand.
The longest strike against GM finally ended on the 25th of October, causing a 3% increase for yield wages and a 4% increase for lump sum payments. Now that it is over, workers at Ford and Fiat Chrysler are trying to reach similar agreements. In total, GM lost a little less than one billion dollars.