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9 months ago · by · Comments Off on GM Strike Enters 3rd Week

GM Strike Enters 3rd Week

 

 

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General Motors has told the UAW that it will continue to pay for health coverage for striking workers.   GM told the union after it went on strike Sept. 16 at company sites nationwide that it was kicking health care costs to the union, a move that UAW leaders said blindsided them, even though they had anticipated picking up those costs at some point through the strike fund.  GM stated they have chosen to work with their providers to keep all benefits fully in place for striking hourly employees, so they have no disruption to their medical care, including vision, prescription and dental coverage.

The strike is the UAW’s first since the Great Recession and GM’s federally induced bankruptcy in 2009. Experts say as the strike continues toward the end of its second week, it has left a lasting economic impact.  Strike pay is $250 per week, but it won’t be distributed until the 15th day of picketing. The starting wage for temporary production workers at GM is $15.78 per hour, which is about $630 per 40-hour week. Top-paid production employees, however, earn $30.46 per hour, or about $1,218 per week.

The UAW says that temporary workers are union members doing the same work as permanent employees, but they get half the pay and far fewer benefits.  The union wants those workers to get a path to being permanent and get pay and benefits that more closely match their permanent counterparts, even when they’re temporary.  GM counters that employing temporary workers is good for permanent employees because they enable the full-time staff to take time off. Hiring temps also gives the company flexibility to scale up production for new models and combat employee absenteeism

The UAW is also fighting for the retention of a health insurance plan in which workers pay about 4% of the costs, an improved pension and assurances that GM — the maker of Buick, Cadillac, GMC and Chevrolet — will not close four plants in Maryland, Ohio and Michigan.

The strike has affected GM facilities in Ohio and Ontario not represented by the UAW. All told more than 3,200 GM workers represented by other unions have been laid off. On Monday, the automaker notified 525 employees at its DMax Ltd. engine plant in Moraine, Ohio, that they temporarily were laid off.  GM suppliers, such as Magna International Inc. and Nexteer Automotive, also said they temporarily have had to lay off employees during the strike.

Analysts agree that the cost of the strike is mounting daily for both GM and striking workers, as well as for the broader community.  Anderson Economic Group, an East Lansing-based consultant, said in a new analysis Thursday that GM probably has lost profits of $113 million so far, and is now losing money at the rate of $25 million a day.  As talks continue toward a UAW-GM contract, negotiations have entered a new stage and moved to the main table. In recent days, talks have been confined to smaller committees as the two sides struggled to hammer out details.

Union leaders have argued that GM workers deserved a bigger slice of the company’s profits, which they say have totaled $35 billion in North America over the last three years. Union members are calling for fair wages, saying for every $1 a GM employee made, CEO Mary Barra made $281.  As the strike enters its 3rd week, the national impact will continue until an agreement is reached.

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9 months ago · by · Comments Off on GM Strike 2019

GM Strike 2019

 

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On September 15th, nearly 50,000 members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) launched a strike, walking out of over 50 General Motors facilities.  Workers say GM continues to deny employees’ demands for fair conditions and compensation despite leading the company to record profits following bankruptcy and a federal bailout.  The nearly 50,000 full-time and temporary workers represented by the UAW make up about half of its workforce.GM workers say they are pushing for a more equitable contract that will guarantee better wages for new hires, stronger health-care benefits and more job security. Workers are forgoing their paychecks during the strike, though the UAW will pay them $250 a week from its strike fund.

GM has made over $30 billion in the past six years, since recovering from its 2009 bankruptcy.  Although they received profit-sharing checks that totaled $52,500 for the same period, workers want pay raises that will show up year after year.  They gave up cost-of-living pay raises and made other concessions to keep the company afloat during its 2009 bankruptcy, and now they want to be repaid. Longtime workers have received only two raises since 2010.  Workers hired after 2007 still make less than older workers, and the union wants to erase that gap.

The company is facing a global auto sales slowdown and also says health care costs are too high, and it wants to cut labor costs so they are closer to U.S. factories owned by foreign competitors. Senior GM workers now make around $30 per hour, but with benefits, it adds up to $63 per hour.  Total labor costs run an average of $50 per hour at the foreign plants.  The car giant has moved to close a handful of production facilities in the United States in recent years despite strong profitability margins.  GM made $8.1 billion in profit after taxes last year but announced the closure of four factories, scuttling thousands of jobs.  GM says it has offered to make $7 billion in investments and create 5,400 jobs, including introducing electric trucks, opening a battery cell manufacturing site and investing in eight existing facilities.

The strike has effectively halted GM’s production in the US and just a day after the strike, GM responded with a letter announcing they had cut off health insurance for the nearly 50,000 people on picket lines across the country.  GM spokesman David Barnas said the decision to cut workers’ health care was a standard practice during stoppages, likening it to the cessation of worker paychecks.  A spokesperson for the UAW stated that they would cover the striker’s health-care fees under COBRA in the interim from the pool of money it keeps for strikes.  Employee dental and vision plans will not be covered during the strike.

The effects of the strike have been felt quickly, when GM dismissed 1,200 workers from an assembly plant in Ontario, Canada just three days after the strike started.  GM has said the temporary layoffs were the result of parts shortages in the United States because of the strike. The factory had produced full-size pickup trucks.  Analysts say GM could be losing as much as $50 million to $100 million a day from the stoppage. gm strike.jpg

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