On Sunday night at 11:59 p.m., the United Auto Workers went on strike against General Motors. Nearly 50,000 autoworkers walked out of over 50 GM facilities, including more than 30 factories, as union leaders and the auto manufacturing giant remain divided on issues such as wages, health care, and job security. The strike is the largest in the United States since 2007, when there was a two-day strike — also against GM.
“We stood up for General Motors when they needed us most,” UAW Vice President Terry Dittes said in a statement. “Now we are standing together in unity and solidarity for our Members, their families and the communities where we work and live.”
Local Union leaders from across the nation met Sunday morning after the 2015 General Motors collective bargaining agreement expired Saturday night and opted to strike at midnight on Sunday. https://t.co/VYJTnzTqqn
— UAW (@UAW) September 15, 2019
GM argued in a statement released later on Sunday that it has agreed to invest $7 billion, create 5,400 new jobs, improve profit-sharing, retain “nationally-leading health care benefits,” and more. “We presented a strong offer that improves wages, benefits and grows U.S. jobs in substantive ways and it is disappointing that the UAW leadership has chosen to strike at midnight tonight,” the statement read. “We have negotiated in good faith and with a sense of urgency. Our goal remains to build a strong future for our employees and our business.”
But the union says GM’s concessions are not enough from a company that made $8 billion in 2018. “We have been clear at the table about what GM members have indicated we will accept,” said National Bargaining Committee Chair Ted Krumm. “We are standing up for what is right. We as local unions will sacrifice to stand up for what we deserve. Our members have spoken; we have taken action; and this is a decision we did not make lightly. We are committed to a strong contract at GM that recognizes our UAW members, who make some of the greatest products in the world and make GM so profitable.”
Nearly 200 union leaders voted unanimously to strike during a meeting Sunday morning in Detroit. The two sides have been trying to come to terms since July, and UAW spokesperson Brian Rothenberg said that contract talks will resume Monday morning.
Several Democratic presidential candidates responded by expressing their support for the UAW.
“A job is about a lot more than a paycheck,” Joe Biden tweeted. “It’s about dignity and respect. Proud to stand with @UAW to demand fair wages and benefits for their members. America’s workers deserve better.”
“Auto workers deserve good wages, comprehensive benefits, and economic security,” wrote Elizabeth Warren. “I stand with @UAW as they strike to get what they deserve, and urge GM to come to the table and negotiate in good faith.”
“I am proud to support the @UAW workers who are standing up to the greed of GM,” added Bernie Sanders. “Our message to GM is a simple one: End the greed, sit down with the UAW and work out an agreement that treats your workers with the respect and the dignity they deserve.”
President Trump responded to the news Sunday evening with exasperation. “Here we go again with General Motors and the United Auto Workers,” he wrote. “Get together and make a deal!”
Here we go again with General Motors and the United Auto Workers. Get together and make a deal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2019
He moved on eight minutes later, bashing the Fake News media for saying he’s willing to meet with Iran with no pre-conditions. (In June, Trump said explicitly that he would meet with Iran with no pre-conditions.)
Though Trump has repeatedly claimed union workers support him, his administration has not been kind to organized labor. In July, it asked a federal court to lift a ban on executive orders that would allow the president to restrict the power of federal labor unions. The court complied with the request.