Auto workers union says it will strike against GM at midnight

The United Auto Workers union said Sunday that its members at General Motors will walk out by midnight if the automaker does not meet its demands, setting th...

Posted: Sep 15, 2019 7:45 PM
Updated: Sep 25, 2019 3:28 PM

The United Auto Workers union said Sunday that its members at General Motors will walk out by midnight if the automaker does not meet its demands, setting the stage for the nation's first auto strike in 12 years.

LOCAL: UNITED AUTO WORKERS UNION MEMBERS PREPARE FOR GENERAL MOTORS STRIKE IN FORT WAYNE

A union statement suggests the two sides are still very far apart in negotiations for a new contract.

As union officials met in Detroit Sunday morning, the union issued a new strike threat.

"If GM refuses to give even an inch to help hard-working UAW members and their families then we'll see them on the picket lines tonight," said the statement.

The union's contract with GM had expired at 12:01 a.m. Sunday but the union's 46,000 members at GM did not walk off the job at 31 GM factories and 21 other facilities across the nation at that time.

There remained "significant differences between the parties on wages, health care benefits, temporary employees, job security and profit sharing," Terry Dittes, the union vice president leading the negotiating team, told membership in a letter late Saturday.

The company on Sunday issued a statement detailing its most recent offer, including 5,400 jobs and $7 billion in investment at its US plants during the life of the contract.

It also promised wage or lump sum pay increases in all four years of the deal, an improved profit sharing formula and a signing bonus of $8,000 per member.

RELATED CONTENT: UAW ON STRIKE AGAINST GM 2019 FULL COVERAGE

GM said it also offered "solutions" for the two assembly plants that are poised to be closed, one in Lordstown, Ohio, where work stopped earlier this year, and the Hamtramck plant in Detroit, which is scheduled to shut in early 2020. The company did not release details of what those solutions would be.

The UAW has vowed to win GM's agreement at the negotiating table to keep all or at least some of those plants operating.

A person familiar with GM's offer said it included a promise to build a new electric truck at Detroit Hamtramck, and to build new batteries for electric vehicles in Lordstown. That work wouldn't start immediately, so the plants would likely remain dark for some time. Work would start sometime in the next four years if the offer were accepted.

"We presented a strong offer that improves wages, benefits and grows US jobs in substantive ways and it is disappointing that the UAW leadership has chosen to strike at midnight tonight," said GM's statement. "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."

Dittes accused GM of refusing "to put hard working Americans ahead of their record profits of $35 billion in North America over the last three years."

"We are united in our efforts to get an agreement our members and their families deserve," he added.

Those statements from the two sides suggest it will be difficult to reach an agreement in time to avoid a strike, said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry labor and economics for the Center for Automotive Research, a Michigan think tank.

"These are some pretty far apart positions. It would take quite a bit of work to bring them together," she said. "It's hard to think they solve any of those issues without solving all of those issues."

If the union goes on strike, it will be the largest by any union against any US business since the last time UAW members struck GM in 2007.

The union had earlier extended the contracts at two other US automakers with UAW contracts, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, as it targeted GM in an effort to reach a deal that would set a pattern for the industry. Dittes' letter said that while membership will keep working for the time being, there would be no long-term extension of the contract at GM.

There was a strike that started early Sunday morning by 850 UAW maintenance workers at GM plants. But they work for an outside contractor, Aramark, not GM. They had been working under an extended contract since March of 2018.

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

The UAW members at the three automakers have much better contracts. GM says its average hourly employee earns about $90,000 per year, not including benefits.

All three automakers are dealing with slower sales and the need to make huge multi-billion-dollar investments in developing electric and self-driving vehicles that have more long-term potential than current market demand.

It was the need to save money for those efforts that GM halted operations at three US plants -- including the assembly line in Lordstown, and announced plans to shut the Hamtramck plant, its last Detroit factory, early next year.

But negotiations come as the union is hit by a scandal involving misappropriation of union funds, and in some cases, union officials accepting bribes from officials at Fiat Chrysler. Nine people associated with the union or Fiat Chrysler have already pleaded guilty to federal charges.

Last week, the Detroit News reported the union's president, Gary Jones, was the unnamed union official identified in the most recent indictment as "UAW Official A." The union has not responded to a request for comment about that report.

Experts say the scandal will make it more difficult to get rank and file union members at the automakers to ratify any tentative deal reached by union leadership. Four years ago the deals all passed by only narrow margins, even though there was no scandal at that time.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 947918

Reported Deaths: 15377
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1291181990
Lake635721103
Allen53899761
Hamilton44082449
St. Joseph42122590
Elkhart33803491
Vanderburgh30574449
Tippecanoe26915251
Johnson23727418
Hendricks22410342
Porter21832347
Clark17562231
Madison17492385
Vigo16302285
Monroe14545191
LaPorte14389239
Delaware14183222
Howard13971273
Kosciusko11498135
Hancock10935166
Warrick10737178
Bartholomew10635170
Floyd10514208
Wayne10077226
Grant9213204
Morgan8928160
Boone8463111
Dubois7791123
Dearborn769490
Henry7691133
Noble7466101
Marshall7409128
Cass7219118
Lawrence7026153
Shelby6647111
Jackson661386
Gibson6190107
Harrison609386
Huntington604495
Montgomery5853105
DeKalb581091
Knox5535104
Miami548888
Putnam543268
Clinton537465
Whitley529354
Steuben501768
Wabash488692
Jasper483861
Jefferson474492
Ripley457777
Adams446068
Daviess4231108
Scott409165
Clay394957
White393858
Greene393392
Wells389884
Decatur388797
Fayette378578
Posey362341
Jennings356056
Washington334747
LaGrange325175
Spencer321136
Fountain318455
Randolph317190
Sullivan309449
Owen287064
Starke282864
Fulton280454
Orange277859
Jay257038
Perry254152
Carroll245229
Franklin242838
Rush237030
Vermillion235050
Parke221420
Tipton212055
Pike211740
Blackford170534
Pulaski168551
Crawford147318
Newton145845
Benton143916
Brown135846
Martin130217
Switzerland126910
Warren115616
Union98511
Ohio80511
Unassigned0482

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1390015

Reported Deaths: 21820
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1541781574
Cuyahoga1361632341
Hamilton989691326
Montgomery681371161
Summit569981051
Lucas51769869
Butler48139663
Stark42350983
Lorain32165539
Warren30497338
Mahoning27564643
Clermont26081297
Lake24873422
Delaware22600147
Licking20818246
Fairfield20789223
Greene20667275
Trumbull20378516
Medina20178290
Clark18235332
Richland16749236
Portage16442231
Wood15973209
Allen14405261
Miami14063261
Muskingum12976155
Wayne12234244
Columbiana12046242
Tuscarawas11248271
Marion10935150
Pickaway10642129
Scioto10585127
Erie9888171
Ross9648177
Lawrence8967125
Hancock8637143
Ashtabula8509187
Geauga8272156
Belmont8262188
Jefferson7736175
Huron7566131
Union743951
Washington7396126
Athens712065
Sandusky6984135
Darke6884137
Knox6839122
Seneca6533137
Ashland6078115
Auglaize596888
Shelby5845104
Brown578272
Mercer565890
Crawford5591117
Defiance5579101
Madison552171
Highland550982
Fulton543583
Clinton535781
Logan520587
Preble5123111
Putnam4909107
Guernsey487664
Williams469982
Perry464454
Champaign454964
Ottawa443584
Jackson436663
Pike400745
Morrow398251
Coshocton393669
Fayette385053
Adams371575
Hardin367570
Gallia356658
Holmes3326111
Henry331869
Van Wert321471
Hocking312370
Wyandot286058
Carroll267052
Paulding247443
Meigs223042
Monroe193149
Noble174442
Morgan170329
Harrison161741
Vinton141919
Unassigned05
Fort Wayne
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 65°
Angola
Partly Cloudy
61° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 61°
Huntington
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 65°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
65° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 65°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 73°
A weak cold front brings slightly cooler air to the region Tuesday.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events