$243 Million Per Work Day Autoworker Strike Looms Over General Motors

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The United Auto Workers (UAW) warned Tuesday a strike may become unavoidable for General Motors (GM) if labor negotiations continue to fail.

The possibility of striking workers is the latest in a tough negotiating process. An earlier strike was avoided after GM proposed a contract agreement Oct. 25. Workers at several factories subsequently rejected during the initial round of voting. With mounting pressure, union officials warned the next strike may become unavoidable if the second round of voting fails to ratify a contract.

“Presidents and Chairmans from across the GM unit just finished a conference call with the international Uaw leadership team,” Local 31 of the union told members over Facebook. “If this tentative agreement fails nationwide they will have no other choice than to strike.”

The online post was signed by Local 31 President Vicki Hale. The union was able to finalize a different agreement Oct. 22 with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Before the UAW can move onto Ford Motor Co., though, it must finalize a deal with GM. The current proposal would cover 52,700 factory workers and avoid a strike that could cost the automaker $243 million per work day, according to WSJ. The second round of voting began late last week and ends Saturday.

“Strike is always the last resort and absolutely does not guarantee further gains,” the online post continued. “However your leadership is committed to this membership and will follow the democratic direction the membership desires.”

At the heart of the matter is healthcare and recession-era economic concessions. The union wants to maintain healthcare benefits for current members and retirees. It also wants to expand healthcare to temporary workers. Beyond that, the economic concessions have played a major role with the multiple labor negotiations thus far.

“At the end of our leaders negotiations the General Motors Board of Directors made it absolutely clear that there are no more economic concessions to give at this time,” the online post also noted. “Our union leadership team has bargained one of the best contracts I have seen in the last three National agreements. We didn’t get everything we proposed, and we never get everything we propose, however our international bargaining team bargains for the greater good of all.”

During the financial disaster of 2008, the union agreed to make certain concessions to help the auto industry withstand the financial crisis. With the improved economy, workers have now demanding the concessions end. One of the more troublesome concessions for workers is the two-tier wage system.

The policy allows some assembly workers to receive substantially less pay than others for same work. Workers adamantly voiced their views that the policy should be eliminated.

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