46,000 General Motors Employees Strike After Union Negotiations Fall Through

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General Motors CEO Mary Barra. [Photo: General Motors]

The UAW and GM did not reach a deal by last night’s deadline.

On Sunday, some 46,000 GM employees walked off the job. They went on strike after the United Auto Workers union and the automaker failed to reach a new deal on worker pay and conditions. “We do not take this lightly. This is our last resort, UAW vice-president Terry Dites said as the strikes began. “We are standing up for fair wages, we are standing up for affordable, quality health care. We are standing up for our share of the profits.”

A BBC report outlined the last time a major GM work stoppage took place over a decade ago, in 2007. Back then, a two-day halt hit General Motors to the tune of $300 million. The union’s prior four-year contract with GM ended over the weekend. Under a new contract, UAW had been negotiating for improvements for its members among GM’s workforce, as well as trying to stop plant closures in Ohio and Michigan.

For its part, General Motors said in a statement it offers various improvements for workers. The company said it provided the UAW with $7 billion in new investments, pay and benefit increases, and promised 5,400 jobs should the union accept the deal. As the deal ultimately fell through, it’s unclear whether negotiations will resume in the near future.

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A Detroit Free Press story also covered the cost on both sides should the strike go on. Right now, shutting down North American production costs GM $400 million a day. That’s according to Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research. It’s also a major blow for the workers, who only get $250 per week in strike wages. For customers, GM currently has enough inventory to wait out a short strike of one to two weeks. “After that it starts to get painful.”