Almost 48 hours after the UAW kicked off a strike against General Motors, other unions walked the picket line to support their union brothers and sisters.
On Tuesday, GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant union workers were joined on the picket line by the Detroit Federation of Teachers members.
“Companies like GM would not be the flagship institutions that they are without the hard work of union members in Michigan and across the country,” said David Hecker, president of American Federation of Teachers Michigan, and Paula Herbart, president of the Michigan Education Association in a joint statement. “It’s time for GM to come to the table and listen to the needs of UAW members and negotiate in good faith to give workers the wages and benefits they deserve.”
Meanwhile, Politico reported on Tuesday that the White House is engaged in talks to settle the dispute and President Trump could be siding with the UAW in an effort to boost his reelection chances in Michigan and Ohio in 2020.
About 48,000 GM workers went out on strike Monday, the first major work stoppage since 2007. After making big concessions during the auto industry’s near-collapse last decade, the union wants long-term temporary workers to be made permanent employees, more jobs coming back from overseas and benefits to be maintained.
GM has reportedly offered $7 billion in new investment that included rebooting “unallocated” assembly plants in Michigan and Ohio, as well as an improved profit-sharing formula, wage increases and other benefits.
Trump said on Monday he hoped that the UAW’s national strike was “a quick one.” However, Randy Freeman, president of United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 652 in Lansing, told the Advance on Monday that the union is prepared for a prolonged strike.
“My relationship has been very powerful with the autoworkers, not necessarily the top (UAW) person or two but the people that work doing automobiles,” Trump said about the strike.
He said he was “sad” about the strike and tweeted on Saturday:
“Here we go again with General Motors and the United Auto Workers. Get together and make a deal!”
Dozens of Democratic officials, including several presidential candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), have lined up to back the union. Several Michigan lawmakers have walked picket lines, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn).
Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), an independent automotive research organization in Ann Arbor, told the Advance that the roots of the strike are in the concessions the UAW made during the GM’s bankruptcy in the Great Recession.
GM posted an $8.1 billion profit last year, but announced it would be eliminating roughly 14,000 jobs.
Spencer Young is a General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant employee and UAW member.
“We want fair wages, fair health care and they are steadily getting millions of dollars in profits and steadily taking from us,” Young told the Advance on Tuesday. “We stood with them during the bankruptcy. Now it’s time for them to stand with us.”
Advance Editor Susan J. Demas contributed to this story.