Day 1: UAW Workers Man Picket Line Wentzville GM Plant

Tuesday, 17 Sep, 2019

General Motors said its offer to United Auto Workers "builds a stronger future for all", but the roughly 50,000 members on strike want more after walking out on Sunday night.

Early Monday, workers shut down 33 manufacturing plants in nine states across the US, as well as 22 parts distribution warehouses.

Before talks collapsed, GM offered UAW workers "improved" wages and healthcare benefits as well as $7 billion in US investments and the addition of 5,400 jobs.

UAW Vice President Terry Dittes notified GM Saturday it would not extend the collective bargaining agreement.

"UAW helped rebuild General Motors when they were near extinction, now they've reached record level profits", the union said in a statement.

"The company looks at that and says, 'Well, if we hit a downturn, we want to be able to have contingent compensation, so we don't get locked into paying higher costs if the market softens.' That same set of economic facts drives the union to want more guaranteed and certain compensation: base wage increases", she said.

Jones didn't attend the press conference but was quoted in the union's statement that called the strike.

"I think GM kind of sabotaged some of the negotiations by going immediately to the public", Wheaton said.

Workers at the GM plant on Lexington Avenue were on strike early Monday.

He says, "I'm sad to see the strike", and that, "Hopefully it's going to be a quick one".

"We stood up for General Motors when they needed us most".

Last year, GM announced plans to close four plants in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland, which didn't sit well with the union.

If the strike commences, about 2,000 Teamsters will refuse to transport GM vehicles to dealerships in a move of solidarity with UAW, said Bret Caldwell, a spokesman for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

"Our members won't cross the picket line", Caldwell said Sunday.

Of course, the longer the strike drags on, the more challenges it poses for both GM and its customers. GM Canada spokesperson Jennifer Wright said there's no impact on Canadian operations - yet.

Members of United Auto Workers Local 31 didn't want to talk about their individual experiences, but instead channeled their voices through union leadership.

GM has been under attack by President Donald Trump for shrinking its USA workforce and idling plants in the key electoral battleground states of MI and Ohio.

At least 46,000 GM employees walked off the job at one minute before midnight last night. A more painful strike occurred in Flint, Michigan, in 1998, lasting 54 days and costing the No. 1 USA automaker more than $2 billion.

GM shot back on social media stating its proposal would create 5400 new jobs across the country, improve the profit sharing formula, and add "autism therapy care, chiropractic care and allergy testing" to its healthcare plan. GM now has too much US factory capacity, especially to build slower-selling cars. The company began the month with more than 820,000 vehicles in inventory, about 80 days' supply, according to Automotive News Data Center.

Some of the major sticking points include the cost of health insurance and pay raises demanded by workers.

As a strike by US workers costs General Motors millions of dollars a day, executives and workers in Canada's auto parts industry are also bracing for impact. The companies would like to cut costs.