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Anxiety mounts for Ford and Chrysler with GM strike, work stoppage

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Gillian Smith

More than 49,000 members of the United Auto Workers walked off of factory floors and set up picket lines early Monday morning as contract talks with General Motors led to a strike. Workers shut down 33 manufacturing plants and 22 parts distribution warehouses. Art Wheaton, professor of labor at Cornell University and an expert on the automotive sector, says the strike will not just affect General Motors but will also impact Ford and Fiat Chrysler.


Art Wheaton

Arthur Wheaton

Director of Western NY Labor and Environmental Programs for the Worker Institute

Art Wheaton, professor of labor at Cornell University and an expert on the automotive sector, says the strike will not just affect General Motors but will also impact Ford and Fiat Chrysler.

Wheaton says:

“The United Auto Workers (UAW)-General Motors (GM) strike shows the UAW’s level of frustration and determination to get equitable pay and benefits for all employees, not just the long-term employees. Strikes are unpredictable and it is difficult to know when one will end.

“The strike could make Ford and Fiat Chrysler nervous, knowing if they don’t give their employees more in pay and benefits, they may face the same strike result. No one wins in a strike; both sides lose. Negotiations are not about getting everything you want; they are about finding a way to get something both sides can live with. Both sides walk away feeling as though they should have done better but can live with it and try again in four years.

“UAW and GM are facing a work stoppage. The UAW went out on strike to get wage increases and pay equity for the temporary and new hires in the GM facilities. General Motors took the unusual step of outlining the proposals made to the UAW at the last minute. Waiting until the last minute and broadcasting it to the public has further divided the sides and gotten the attention of elected officials from both political parties. UAW members will immediately see their incomes hit and if it lasts more than 15 days, they may start receiving $250 per week in strike pay. That is much less than they earn working and it will impact their ability to pay their bills.

“GM is also being hurt immediately. GM makes their revenue building cars, not selling cars. The public will not be impacted too much unless the strike lasts more than a couple weeks. GM has built up some excess inventory in preparing for a potential strike. After a few weeks it may be more difficult getting a vehicle in the color or engine type you prefer but there will be vehicles for purchase.”

 


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