UAW reports progress, even after GM cut off health care for striking workers

Andrew Roth

Union officials with the United Auto Workers (UAW) say they’re making progress on contract talks as more than 40,000 General Motors workers wind down their first week of a national strike. 

“I can report to you that as of today, some progress has been made, but there are still many of our Memberships’ issues that remain unresolved,” UAW-GM Vice President Terry Dittes wrote in a letter on Thursday to workers. 

“Your elected Bargaining Committee and the UAW International Staff have been working long hours each day for weeks negotiating on our Members’ behalf,” Dittes wrote. “The process of meeting in subcommittees and main tables will continue this weekend and beyond, if a Tentative Agreement is not reached.”

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The Detroit News reported that those talks had resumed Friday morning and noted that the strike pay rate of $250 per week — considerably less than workers make when on the job — kicks in next week, placing financial pressure on many on the picket lines.

Also adding to that pressure: GM cut off striking workers’ health care this week. The UAW has opted to pick up the costs of COBRA, according to reports, with an official telling the Detroit Free Press it was a “scare tactic..” 

GM has not commented about talks. As the strike appears to be moving into a second week, GM supplier Nexteer is reportedly looking at layoffs. 

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Meanwhile, the UAW continues to face its own corruption scandals. The Detroit News reported this week that the union’s embattled president, Gary Jones, who is caught up in a federal investigation of embezzled dues, is facing a possible “mutiny” from top lieutenants. 

Despite the challenges for all parties, UAW’s Dittes aimed to reassure  workers that a strike is the correct move. 

“This strike is for all the right reasons: to raise the standard of living of our Members and their families and for workers across this country, to achieve true job security, our fair share of the profits, affordable health care and a path to permanent seniority for temporary members,” Dittes wrote in his Thursday letter.


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