Published: Tue, September 17, 2019
Money | By Ethel Goodwin

General Motors auto workers call strike in US

General Motors auto workers call strike in US

On September 19 at 7:00 pm Eastern Time, the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter is hosting an online meeting to discuss the strategy and perspective needed to organize autoworkers against the conspiracy of the corporations and the United Auto Workers.

"There will be temporary layoffs in all three facilities as the parts start to dry up", Dias said in a phone interview.

Magna gets about 15 per cent of its revenue from GM, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, and is hoping that both sides will get back to the negotiating table. The strike could cost GM about $50 million a day in earnings before interest and taxes due to lost production, Dan Levy, an analyst at Credit Suisse, said Sunday.

About 80 per cent of the engines St. Catharines is building are destined for cars assembled in the USA, says Jerry Dias, president of Canadian union Unifor.

Almost 50,000 General Motors employees went on strike at midnight Sunday as contract negotiations between the Detroit-based automaker and the union fell apart. Workers gathered with signs outside of the Tonawanda Powertrain facility on River Road around midnight and began picketing.

- The union also wants new products for the four factories GM wants to close.

Green, a former local union president, said he agrees with the strike over wages, plant closures and other issues. "Now we are standing together in unity and solidarity for our members, their families and the communities where we work and live", said UAW Vice President Terry Dittes.

The letter could suggest that the company and union aren't as far apart as the rhetoric leading up to the strike had indicated.

A spokesman for the union says this is not the case. "Nothing will move 'til we get what we want".

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In the letter to Scott Sandefur, GM's vice-president of labour relations, Dittes wrote that the company waited too long to make the offer.

Here, shop chairman Al Tiller, a member of UAW Local 1005, said union members are prepared to strike for as long it takes to get what they're looking for from GM. Late Saturday, it said while there had been progress in the talks, there was still "significant differences between the parties on wages, health care benefits, temporary employees, job security and profit-sharing".

The automaker said Sunday that it offered pay raises and $7 billion worth of USA factory investments resulting in 5,400 new positions, a minority of which would be filled by existing employees. While on strike, hourly employees will be eligible for COBRA so their health care benefits can continue.

GM had announced in November that it would halt production at its Oshawa plant and four other North American factories, cutting thousands of jobs as part of a global restructuring plan and an increased focus on electric vehicles. The person was not authorized to disclose details of the negotiations.

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's unclear how many workers the two plants would employ. "It makes me think that both sides are probably closer than it might have seemed before", she said.

Company and union officials say there are a number of issues to be resolved and that no immediate resolution on Monday is expected. "It really distorts the offer".

Workers shut down 33 manufacturing plants in nine states across the USA, as well as 22 parts distribution warehouses.

Monday's strike is the first one since 2007, when workers walked of the job for two days.

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