UAW workers at General Motors are on strike for the first time since 2007. The 49,000 UAW workers at GM went out on strike at midnight Sunday after their contract expired with workers and management far apart in negotiations. Contracts are bargained every four years, with no work stoppages in 2011 or 2015 and the 2007 strike lasting just two days.
UAW leaders pointed back to 2009, when GM faced bankruptcy and workers made significant concessions to help the company bounce back. “We stood up for General Motors when they needed us most,” said Terry Dittes, a UAW vice president and top negotiator. “Now we are standing together in unity and solidarity for our Members, their families and the communities where we work and live.”
Now that GM is profitable again—pulling in $8.1 billion in profits last year—the UAW is pressing to improve wages, including narrowing the gap between longtime workers and those hired more recently at lower pay; reopening idled plants in places like Lordstown, Ohio; putting temporary workers on a path to permanent jobs; and maintaining affordable health care in an industry that takes a toll on workers’ bodies.
“If somebody prays, I ask that they pray for us. Or just send us good vibes,” Flint Chevrolet worker Dominique Birdsong told the Detroit Free Press. “I’m not scared, I’m hopeful. Because we’re determined. We will rally together for the middle class.”
This article was originally published at Daily Kos on September 16, 2019. Reprinted with permission.